The Baby Bulls didn't spend too much time sucking their thumbs.
After a 107-86 drudging at the hands of the Boston Celtics in the United Center last Thursday, the Chicago Bulls responded with thrilling 121-118 double-OT victory to tie the series 2-2 and guarantee a Game Six and a trip back to Chicago.
The point guards, Rajon Rando and Derrick Rose, did their best to steal the show in this game yet again. Rondo grabbed his second triple-double this series (25 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists), and Rose nearly countered that effort with one of his own (23 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists).
The young, blooming rivals were not the center-point in Game Four, however. Standing in the spotlight, just as they did in Game Two, were shooters Ray Allen and Ben Gordon.
Allen sent the game into its first overtime with another clutch three, and Ben Gordon responded in that period with a dagger to send it to a second extra session.
Down by three with only a few ticks remaining on the clock, Celtics' guard Paul Pierce had a chance to do his rendition, only to have it blocked by Chicago's John Salmons.
The game was in instant classic, and will actually be airing on ESPN Classic this week if you missed it. Rather than recap the game, looking into the details of the game reveals a much better story.
Why Chicago Won
The Bulls seemed to be doing everything they could to drop this game. Free throws, the easiest shot in the game of basketball, nearly did the Bulls in.
After a clear-path foul called on Brain Scalabrine, Kirk Heinrich made only 1-2 of those free throws. This was after Heinrich already made only 1-3 free throws after being fouled on a long range jumper.
The Bulls missed a total of nine free throws (74 percent), and seemed poised to drop a heartbreaker. Ironically, Salmons' four free throws in the second OT proved to be their saving grace.
The only thing that kept Chicago in this game in the final quarter was ROY Derrick Rose. Rose decided to utilize his best skill, driving to the basket, in the final session, posting 13 of his 23 points during that time. His keen vision, finding Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas down low for easy dunks.
Boston did everything they could, drawing up picture-perfect plays to get their best shooters open, and, most of the time, those shooters made their shots. No doubt, however, that Glen Davis and Scalabrine fouling out hurt their chances in the end.
How Chicago Can Win Game Five
The Bulls have done a poor job on the glass the entire series, although the numbers do not tell the whole story. The Celtics had 14 offensive rebounds compared to 10 for Chicago, but it felt like double that to Bulls fans.
The Bulls are constantly in position to get the rebound, but they tip the ball around and it winds up in the hands of a Celtic (this accounts for at least half of Rondo's rebounds).
One key to winning Game Six is to simply box out Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis. Simply grabbing rebounds would have cut down on at least 10 Boston points in Game Five.
The next key to victory is center Brad Miller...but not in a good way. Miller has been nothing but a liability for the Bulls at this point. Thus far, his biggest hit in this game has been the "smack" he gave Glen Davis in Game Four.
He is constantly on the floor due to his awful body control, and cannot seem to hit a shot from the key. Limit his time, let Tyrus Thomas continue to improve, and the Bulls should see a marked improvement.
There are always calls for Rose to control the game, but when he passes the ball to Gordon, that control can become lost. Gordon loves to break down his defender and hoist up a shot, but more than half the time it is completely out of control and with 15 seconds on the shot clock.
Rose needs to grab control of his team, because when he does, they have shown to be completely capable of taking this series.
If Gordon lets his late game heroics go to his head (see: Game Three), the Bulls will be trouble. Feel fortunate, Bulls fans, that he decline his contract and isn't a $59 million Steve Kerr.
Will the Bulls Win Game Five?
I could have rambled for pages about plays, lineups, and drills I would love to see the Bulls do. If they do what is listed above, it should be 3-2 Bulls come Game Six.
However, they have had four games to realize this and take control, and going back to Boston and facing a desperate Celtic fan-dome, the Bulls have a tough challenge ahead of them.
It will be another close, down-to-the-wire game, and unless they figured out a way to defend Allen in the fourth quarter, they should end just short.
I like to be optimistic though, and after seeing how they responded from having their hearts ripped out, I believe the Bulls will go into Boston with tons of emotion, and leave Boston with a chance to advance.
Chicago Bulls 108—Boston Celtics 103