Quantcast 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs: Semifinals - Chicago vs Atlanta

 

NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals - Game 1 Recap

Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 1 - Atlanta 103, Chicago 95 – Hawks lead series, 1-0

 

 

The joke’s not very original, but then again, jokes don’t have to be original in order to be funny or, for that matter, relevant. Plainly put, it was easy to say that before this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series began, the Chicago Bulls were favored to beat the Atlanta Hawks in three games.

Nobody in the Windy City is laughing now. A young team unaccustomed to the grind of playoff basketball is clearly struggling to find its best form, and is continuing to breathe life into the minds and hearts of inferior opponents who refuse to back down.

Forget the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat in a potential East final. The Bulls need to devote their full attention to a team that they were expected to sweep or, at the very least, dismiss in five games. Yes, the Atlanta Hawks, playing without former Bull Kirk Hinrich and thereby losing their most dependable perimeter defender, were still able to stop the Bulls and their superstar player, Derrick Rose. Scoring at an impressive clip against the Bulls’ anemic defense, Atlanta took advantage of Chicago’s decidedly drowsy and desultory play. A series that figured to fly by the in the blink of an eye is now a battle that seems ticketed for a minimum of six games. The sharpness and intensity of the Bulls’ 62-win regular season is a distant memory, and the Hawks – an historically fragile team between the ears – found enough gumption and focus to make Chicago pay the price.

> Browse a great selection of Chicago Bulls Merchandise & Apparel!

For three of their first five playoff games the top-seeded Bulls got behind an inferior opponent by a double-digit margin, only to rally for a come-from-behind victory. On Monday night the Bulls weren’t able to recover. The visiting Hawks jumped out to a 10- point first-quarter lead, withstood a Chicago rally, and closed the fourth quarter with a flurry, stealing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at the United Center.

Joe Johnson hit five 3-pointers, including three during a pivotal 15-2 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters. Trailing by four points, the Hawks began to find an offensive rhythm. Before Chicago knew what hit it, The Hawks had opened an 80-71 lead with 10:27 remaining. As the fourth quarter continued, the Hawks remained aggressive on the offensive end. Chicago got within six on two separate occasions, but could not make an extended push.

 

 

Johnson finished with 34 points on 12-of-18 shooting. Jamal Crawford played 35 minutes off the bench and contributed 22 points.

Chicago’s Derrick Rose had 24 points but struggled from the field, shooting just 11-of-27. Rose, who reportedly will be named the league’s MVP on Wednesday night before Game 2 of this series, tweaked his ankle on the final possession. That injury does not appear to be all that serious; what’s far more alarming is that his first ankle tweak, suffered in Game 4 of the first round against the Indiana Pacers, has seemingly slowed him down to a slight but perceptible degree. If Rose and his teammates don’t start attacking the basket and – for that matter - the game of basketball with newfound vigor, their regular-season awards and accomplishments won’t mean very much at all.

 

Pro Basketball Fans and partner sites feature NBA jerseys, basketball tickets and more for hoops fans of all ages.

 

By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


> Read all of the pro basketball articles online from ProBasketball-fans.com.

 

Advertisement