Sixers vs. Bulls, 7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center CSN
Sixers lead series, 3-2
Sixers 3 over Bulls
It was a hide-your-women-and-children shooting effort by the Sixers in a 77-69 loss in Game 5 at the United Center, where the team hit shots at a 32 percent clip. In doing so, the Sixers shot under 40 percent for the third straight game. Since 1986, only two teams have won a playoff series when shooting 39.2 percent or worse in three games of a series (Indiana vs. New York in 2000 and New York vs. Miami in 2000).
For the Sixers, Andre Iguodala shot 4 for 19 and Jrue Holiday started the game 1 for 9 before turning in a 5-for-17 performance. Only rookie Lavoy Allen (4 for 7) shot better than 50 percent in the game for the Sixers.
Meanwhile, the Bulls didnt exactly scorch the nets, either. The team got 43 of their points from Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer, but the duo needed 49 shots to get them. Where the Bulls stood out was with energy and aggression, particularly from Taj Gibson. During one possession in the second quarter, Gibson scuffled with Elton Brand in front of the Bulls bench while battling for a loose ball. Gibson threw an elbow that caught Brand on the face.
Nevertheless, the Bulls shot 41 percent and won despite committing more turnovers and making 13 fewer foul shots.
For the Sixers, hot is a relative term. However, following back-to-back games where he scored season and playoff-highs in points, Spencer Hawes snagged 14 rebounds in Game 5.
For the Bulls, Boozer has notched double doubles in the three straight games, going for 19 points and 13 rebounds in Game 5. Gibson had been the Bulls instant energy, coming off the bench to get 22 points and 19 rebounds in the two games without Joakim Noah. Moreover, the 6-foot-9 Gibson has done a number on the Sixers top reserve, Thad Young, holding him to just seven shots and five rebounds over the last two games.
Lately, Young has struggled the most for the Sixers. Not only has he been blanketed by Gibson, but all three of the shots he attempted in Game 5 were blocked.
Generally speaking, though, whoever has shot the ball from the perimeter has not been hot for the Sixers. In shooting 32 percent in the loss of Game 5, the team went 4 for 23 in the second quarter.
For the Bulls, Richard Hamilton has been on the bench during the final quarter of games in the series. In Game 5, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau kept Hamilton seated for the final 17 minutes, clocking just 10 total minutes in the five fourth quarters of the series.
Its quite simple, actually if the Sixers win they advance to the second round for the first time since 2003 and will play the winner of the Atlanta-Boston series. A loss sends the series back to Chicago for Game 7 on Saturday night.
I don't want to come to Game 7, Sixers coach Doug Collins said after the loss in Game 5.
In the meantime, the Sixers are very much looking forward to a possible series clincher on their home floor.
This is what we fought all season for, Brand said. We will be on our home court, in front of our fans with a closeout game.
Meanwhile, the Bulls could have center Noah back for Game 6 after he missed the last two games with a sprained ankle. In his first interview since his injury in Game 3, Noah told Bulls TV he was feeling better and hoping to be ready for Thursdays game.
Andre Iguodala, F
Elton Brand, F
Lavoy Allen, C
Jrue Holiday, G
Evan Turner, G
Carlos Boozer, F
Richard Hamilton, F
Omer AsikJoakim Noah, C
Luol Deng, G
C.J. Watson, G
Andre Iguodala has Achilles tendonitis but will play in Game 6.
Hawes was scratched on the left side of his face in Game 5 and has a series of cuts, but hell play.
Derrick Rose (ACL) is out.
Noah (ankle) remains a game-time decision. One Chicago paper reported him doubtful for Game 6, but its too early to call it.
Gibson sprained his ankle in Game 5 when he stepped on Allens foot. Gibson says he will play Thursday.
E-mail John R. Finger at email@example.com