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NBA News: Hawks take it in Chicago

Are the Chicago Bulls in trouble? You have to consider they didn't play that great in their first round series against the Indiana Pacers. You can see the Bulls had to dig a little deeper to knock them off in five games. You would think 5 days of rest would bring out a fresh Bulls team in their Eastern Conference semi-final opener with the Atlanta Hawks. Nope, all you saw was sloppy play and obvious rust in their 103-95 loss to the Hawks. Defense?? what defense?? Bulls forward Carlos Boozer who was suffering from turf toe gave it a go. Obviously he was very out of sync because he basically didn't participate in any of the practices in preparation for this series due to his toe. Something like that can really try your patience.......You can read into that statement anyway you like......Boozer finished with respectable 14 points and eight assists but more is needed from him, a lot more. Derrick Rose was very rusty going 0-7 from the field in the first quarter. He eventually recovered to finish with 24 points and 10 assists, but limped off the floor in the final moments of the game when he sprained his ankle. This was the same left ankle he sprained in the previous series against the Pacers. X-Rays were taken last night and an MRI is probable today, so he is listed as day-to-day. Oh by the way, Rose didn't attempt a free throw all game.

The Hawks however were relentless, going on a 9-0 run from the out set. The Hawks seemingly are still carrying that chip on their shoulder from their first round series shocker, where they eliminated the Orlando Magic. It was reported for last nights game that they reserved two tickets for Orlando guard Jameer Nelson in the United Center. This was in response to an exchange between Nelson and Derrick Rose in the final meeting between the Magic and the Bulls toward the end of the regular season, where Nelson was overheard saying to Rose "see you in the second round". So the Hawks figured since they eliminated Nelson and the Magic, they wanted to make sure Nelson didn't reneged on his promise to see Rose in the second round........All I can say is wow.....

There was this notion that Rose would rip the Hawks defense apart because former Bull Kirk Hinrich is out due to a hamstring strain. Hinrich regarded for his defense and once played alongside Rose would of been a valued weapon against the Bulls. Instead they went ahead with Jeff Teague, who played all but a total of 9-minutes in the previous series against Orlando. You got to be kidding right? A total of nine minutes??? Yet whatever koo-laid they are serving in the ATL was obviously working. Hey look Teague dealt with Rose back in their AAU days, so Rose is not an enigma to this guy. Teague came into this game focused and played about 44-minutes of harassing defense finishing with 10 points and five assists. Another former Bull who has been tearing it up in the playoffs is Jamal Crawford. Crawford scorched the Bulls with 22 points coming off the bench. Hawks superstar Joe Johnson pounded the Bulls with 34 points going 5-5 from the 3-point stripe. Luol Deng was the lone bright spot for the Bulls, finishing with 21 points.

What was disturbing was how all the shots seemed to be dropping for the Hawks and this eerily looked like how the Bulls performed against the Indiana Pacers in the first round. This is not good for the number one ranked defensive team in the league. It makes you wonder if the Bulls success has gone to their heads. You can tell from the beginning of the playoffs that the Bulls defensive schemes are poorly executed, something that must be driving Head Coach Tom Thibodeau up the wall. You see flashes but their lack of consistency puts the Bulls at huge risks. Teams like the Pacers and the Hawks are playing inspired ball and they are very annoyed that they are considered easy outs in the playoffs. True reality set in for the Pacers and eventually will for the Hawks but the Bulls have to play better. Defense is this teams strength and the Bulls really need to go back to that if they plan on being successful in the playoffs . Game 2 is in Chicago Wednesday night......nuff said

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