Bulls-Celtics Game Five: Can Chicago Win Without Ben Gordon?

Jacob NitzbergAnalyst IApril 28, 2009

The Chicago Bulls take on the Boston Celtics in Game Five of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Series tonight in Boston.  The series is tied at two games apiece, thanks in large part to Chicago's backcourt play.

The Bulls won Game Four in double overtime on Sunday, but may have paid a large price as Ben Gordon strained his left hamstring during the game.  When asked how the injury felt, Gordon said: "Not good, it didn't get worse, but it doesn't feel any better."

Gordon missed the team shoot around this morning and is questionable to play in tonight's game.  Not having Gordon would be a huge loss for the Bulls.  Do they even have a chance without him?

Watching this series, it is evident that Gordon is good at one thing on offense: scoring.  In four postseason games he has averaged 24.8 points on 46.1 percent shooting, but has put up an average of just 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

The thing is, it doesn't matter.  The Bulls need him to score and that's what he does.  He has created scoring opportunities out of nothing and made some unbelievably clutch shots this series.  The Celtics' defense has had no choice but to double team him a great deal of the time.

With Gordon out, the Celtics can focus their defensive energy on Derrick Rose and make it tough for him to create those slashing drives to the lane that he has nearly perfected.  Kirk Hinrich would likely start in place of Gordon, and while he is a solid guard with playoff experience, he doesn't create on his own, and will need to get feeds from Rose in order to score.

Under the direction of rookie head coach Vinny del Negro, the Bulls defense has been non-existent throughout the series (see Ray Allen's shots in Game Two and Four).  The Bulls have remained competitive in this series because they have been able to go shot-for-shot with the defending champs (with the exception of Game Three).  

Without Gordon to help the Bulls match the Celtics offensive output, it doesn't appear the Bulls will have much of a chance without him.  But this series is coming back to Chicago regardless, and it's more for the Bulls to have a healthy Gordon in Game Six rather than risk further injury with a hobbled Gordon in Game Five.


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