Banged-up Bulls try to force a Game 7 vs. Sixers
(Sports Network) - Even after losing perhaps his two best players due to injury Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau has been steadfast in saying his club still has enough to win.
On Tuesday his charges finally proved it and now the Bulls will try to force a deciding Game 7 in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals set against the upstart Philadelphia 76ers in the City of Brotherly Love.
With its back against the wall in Game 5 Chicago dominated defensively in a 77-69 win in the Windy City.
The Bulls, playing without star point guard Derrick Rose and starting center Joakim Noah, limited Philadelphia to just 32.1 percent shooting. Luol Deng made four three-pointers and led Chicago with 24 points while Carlos Boozer added 19 points and 13 rebounds.
The 76ers had won three straight in the series since a Game 1 loss, which saw Rose go down for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. They still lead the series 3-2 and can become just the fifth No. 8 seed in NBA history to knock off a No. 1 seed with a win in Game 6 on Thursday in Philadelphia.
The Bulls, meanwhile, will be looking for force a Game 7 back home.
"We need everybody," said Thibodeau. "You never know where it's going to come from. ... We have to concentrate on what's next and be ready to go."
Jrue Holiday scored a team-high 16 points on 5-of-17 shooting in the Game 5 loss for the 76ers.
The second quarter proved particularly challenging for the Sixers . They trailed 17-16 after one, but managed just 10 points in the second on 4-of-23 shooting. The Bulls held a 35-26 lead at the half and never trailed in the third quarter.
"The second quarter was a disaster for us offensively," remarked Philadelphia coach Doug Collins.
Philadelphia could win its first playoff series since 2003 and join the 1994 Nuggets (over Seattle), 1999 Knicks (over Miami also in a lockout shortened season), 2007 Warriors (over Dallas) and last year's Grizzlies (over the Spurs) in the rare one-eight upset club if they top the Bulls tonight.
Noah suffered a badly sprained left ankle in Game 3 and was listed a game-time decision on Tuesday. The big man will also be a game-time decision for Game 6 but he certainly doesn't look healthy enough to play.
Meanwhile, Bulls super-sub Taj Gibson, who has rendered one of the Sixers' best bench players, Thaddeus Young, ineffective in this series with his length and defensive acumen, was forced to leave Game 5 with a right ankle injury but has vowed to play on Thursday.
Collins made the surprising decision to give his team the option of watching the disastrous first half game film from Tuesday's setback and it came away understanding they get bogged down in the half-court and need to pick up the pace and play more transition basketball.
"We tried to make it as positive as possible because tape can be very, very negative," Collins said. "I want our guys to be incredibly positive about what we have to do. I don't want them to have negative feelings at all. But I wanted them to see how they could be better."
These two rivals have met in postseason twice before, in the East semifinals in back-to-back years (1990 and '91) during the Michael Jordan-era with Chicago taking both sets 4-1.
Game 7, if necessary, is set for Saturday back in Chicago.
05/10 10:33:14 ET