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First of all, I want to start off by saying, how cool was Derrick’s MVP press conference yesterday? Talk about a guy that is really easy to root for. The way he thanked his mother was heartfelt. He wasn’t reading from his notes, he was speaking from his heart, and that was real. I love that.

Now on to tonight’s game. I’ve got to be quick today, so we’re going with the lazy bullet point approach to the key’s the game:

  • We have got to get to the foul line more. We didn’t shoot nearly enough free throws in game 1. We settled for way too many jumpers instead of driving to the lane. Got to make a concerted effort to get to the hole. Derrick not shooting a single FT in Game 1 was huge. He’s got to attack more.
  • You can’t let Crawford and Johnson go off again in this one. We have to have a hand in their face on every single shot. They’re confidence is probably at an all time high right now after that Game 1 performance. You can’t give them any breathing space. Make someone else beat you.
  • Start fast. I sound like a broken record because I’ve been saying it all postseason, but we’ve only done it one time in six games, and that was the one comfortable win. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I’m sick of playing catch up. Get it going early.
  • I touched on it with my first point, but we need more out of Derrick. He has a very favorable matchup in this one. He should be able to take Teague to the hoop all night long. It sounds like the ankle is okay. Thibs said there is no swelling and he practiced yesterday. Play like an MVP tonight.

Stat of the Day:

Atlanta made 40 of 78 shots against the league’s best regular season defense is game 1.

Probable Atlanta Starters:

G – Jeff Teague, 5-0 PPG

G – Joe Johnson, 20.3 PPG

F – Marvin Williams, 5.9 PPG

F – Josh Smith, 13.4 PPG

C – Al Horford, 11.6 PPG

Probable Chicago Starters:

G – Derrick Rose, 27.0 PPG

G – Keith Bogans, 5.0 PPG

F – Luol Deng, 19.0 PPG

F – Carlos Boozer, 10.7 PPG

C – Joakim Noah, 11.8 PPG

Prediction:

Current Line: Chicago (-8.5), Over/Under 180

Don’t put a whole lot of stock into my predictions. After being pretty money in the regular season, I haven’t been right a whole lot in the postseason. But I still like the Bulls here. I’m not jumping off the bandwagon after Game 1. The Bulls have some favorable matchups here, particularly at Point Guard. I have to believe that Derrick will make it a point to drive more instead of settling for jumpers. Atlanta was really packing the lane in Game 1 but you still need to drive and either kick or draw the foul. This is a huge game for the Bulls and I expect them to play like it.

Bulls 90 Hawks 84