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Can The Bulls Close It Out?
With Kirk Hinrich likely out, Taj Gibson and Luol Deng game-time decisions, and no miracle signs pointing to a Derrick Rose return tonight, the Bulls will be shorthanded in their second effort to wrap up their first round series against Brooklyn.
Game 6 will be Chicago’s last chance to close out the Nets at home, and avoid going back to Brooklyn for Game 7 in which they’d have no momentum. Injuries have been part of the Bulls struggles so far this series, so the possibility of missing three rotation players for a series clinching game is worrisome. We saw Joakim Noah at his most hobbled in the Game 1 blowout loss and we saw how Hinrich’s absence left the Bulls with no one to stop Deron Williams in the Game 5 loss.
Hinrich missing a second straight game will again leave Williams to be guarded by the undersized and offense-minded Nate Robinson. Deng has done a nice job guarding the hobbled Joe Johnson, but the Bulls will miss his offense just as much. Even though he hasn’t shot great this series, no Deng would mean only reliable scoring from Robinson and Carlos Boozer, with occasional offensive contribution from Noah. As for Gibson, he’s missed time this year already, but he provides a solid defensive presence off the bench.
The Bulls can win a game in Brooklyn, but they don’t want the series to head back there. This game tonight is essentially a must-win for both teams. They will have to grind it out like they’ve done all year and hope that Robinson continues his hot shooting, otherwise the points may be scarce. If the Bulls can play their signature tight defense with whoever they have on the court tonight, they will have a chance to close this series out and avoid a Game 7 in front of a raucous Brooklyn crowd.
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