Derrick Rose or no Derrick Rose, the Philadelphia 76ers were supposedly no match for the Chicago Bulls. And then Game 2 happened.
The Bulls, in their first playoff game without the reigning MVP, were handed a 109-92 beat down on their home court. And now, all of a sudden, the series is tied at one game apiece, the Sixers have life and the Bulls are flailing.
But can Philadelphia keep it up?
After trailing by eight at halftime, the Sixers came out scorching in the third quarter, outscoring the Bulls 36-14 and taking a 14 point lead into the fourth. And that was it, there would be no miraculous comeback from Chicago.
Though the Bulls were without their best player, they are no stranger to playing a man, or more, down. Rose missed 27 games during the regular season, and Chicago posted an 18-9 record without him. And to be fair, the Bulls weren’t exactly horrid during this game either.
Chicago lost by 17, but shot over 45 percent from the field. The Bulls held their own on the glass, kept the turnovers to a minimum and blocked more than their fair share of shots.
So, what happened?
The Sixers shot nearly 60 percent from the field and over 41 percent from beyond the arc, that’s what happened. Merely days after hitting just one three-pointer all game and getting manhandled on the glass, Philadelphia came out firing and executing on cylinders.
While their most recent win has likely sparked a wealth of optimism within the locker room and entire Sixers fanbase, extreme caution must be exercised before continuing to ride this postseason high.
Philadelphia undeniably torched Chicago, but only for one half. The Sixers had to convert on nearly 60 percent of their field goal attempts and watch the Bulls shoot 55 percent from the foul line to come away with the victory. That’s not likely to become a nightly reality, especially for a Sixers team that shot under 45 percent for the season.
Philadelphia is not a team that typically dominates the stat lines, runs up the score, thrives in transition or pushes the tempo in any way, shape or form, yet that’s what happened Monday night. It took an out of character performance by the Sixers to steal one game—albeit an impressive game—from a battered Bulls team.
As point guard Jrue Holiday put it, “This game we caught fire and it was pretty hard to put it out.”
In order for the Sixers to pull off the upset, their going to have to hope Holiday’s words hold true for the rest of the series, as a string of out of character performances are their only hope at advancing past the Bulls.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His basketball musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.