While unsure of Gasol’s availability, Bulls are confident in ability to bounce back
CHICAGO – Turnabout might be fair play but the swings of emotion were pushing it a bit.
There was the elation of Derrick Rose’s game winner on Wednesday night in Game 3. It was their first postseason buzzer-beating win since 1997 and brought the United Center to a Jordan-era pitch.
Under 48 hours later there was almost equal deflation when LeBron James’ rose over Jimmy Butler to sink a shot to beat the clock and bring an entertaining series to even after four games.
It’s the ebb and flow of playoff basketball. If anything it might be a familiar pattern for this squad.
In 2014-2015 this Bulls team has experienced injury, winning streaks, losing periods and occasional strife between front office and coaching.
They should be used to these crazy mood swings, right? Tom Thibodeau thinks so.
“In a playoff series you’re going to be tested in every way imaginable,” said the Bulls coach on Monday. “You have to be able to handle the ups, the downs, getting through it, walking through the fire together. We’ve got to have a resolve and a toughness that we can respond to anything.”
We’ll here they go again. Not only do the Bulls have to steal a game in Cleveland to win the series but they may enter Game 5 on Tuesday without Pau Gasol.
The forward sat out Game 4 with a bad hamstring and his scoring was sorely missed late when the Bulls watched a double-digit lead evaporate in an 86-84 loss at the United Center. Thibodeau said Gasol only worked on his rehab exercises on Monday following the team's film session and would only say he's "Day-to-Day" when asked about his Game 5 status.
"We need to be tougher offensively," said forward Nikola Mirotic of replacing Gasol, who was averaging 15.1 points per game in the playoffs for the injury.
While fans won't know till tipoff if the Bulls will be able to do that in Game 5 there might be a notion the team can emotionally rebound from a difficult loss. A number of times during the season the team dealt with significant injuries-including a month-and-a-half without Derrick Rose-along with other things to still win 50 games.
In the playoffs the Bulls lost two-straight to Milwaukee the got it together on the road and hammered the Bucks by 54 points in a closeout win. They were unfazed after being blown out in Game 2 of this series and won on Rose's buzzer-beater in Game 4.
"Were disappointed that we lost the game yesterday, we had our opportunities, LeBron hit a great shot at the end of the game," said Joakim Noah. "But we're right where we want to be and we're excited for Game 5."
History says the Bulls have a fighting chance to defeat a James-led team when the series is even after four games. Its happened ten times in his career in Cleveland and Miami with a 6-4 record in those series.
Only one time in the Thibodeau era have the Bulls opened a series with a 2-2 split and they beat the Hawks in the 2011 Eastern Conference Semfinals in six games.
Of course the Bulls have insisted that all history-recent or distant-is irrelevant to whats in the immediate present.
"You need to get a short memory," said Mirotic of the last game. "You need to think about your game."
That might not be too much to ask from this team.