Easy to put one loss in rearview mirror
Q. You've been through this scenario. The Bulls dropped Game 2 of a playoff series in 1997 (Atlanta) and '98 (Charlotte) on the way to the title. What's does it take to win playoff games on the road?
A. The thing about the playoffs is it is a seven-game series, so no matter how well or how bad you play in one particular game, it is over and done with. Most of the time the best team wins. There is nothing good about losing, but it does give you the opportunity to go over your mistakes and try to correct them for the next game. The Bulls have now traveled to Philadelphia and will have to deal with all that entails: airplanes, buses to and from games and practice, not sleeping in your own bed or home, and the stress from of opposing teams. The players and coaches need to block all of that out of their minds and focus on the task at hand — winning Game 3. Worry about Game 4 after Game 3 and so on down the line. All they have to do is win the next game.
Q. What's the biggest correction the Bulls need to make from that miserable second half in Game 2?
A. In Game 2, the Bulls did not rebound well. They were out rebounded for the 16th time this season and are now 7-9 in those games. Their interior defense left much to be desired as well. These are two things that they can look at and correct for the rest of this series. They have prided themselves on rebounding and defense all season, so this was certainly out of character.
Looking at the energy in the second half of Game 2 you can see they can play with much more. Offensive penetration into the paint did not happen in the second half. The guards need to be more aggressive on driving to the basket.
Q. Joakim Noah hit 10 of 11 shots for 21 points in Game 2. Should we start expecting more from him on offense?
A. Joakim Noah played well; he took the shots that were given to him and shot the ball well. He aggressively drove to the basket and made good basketball plays. If the 76ers play him the same way and dare him to shoot the 16-foot jump shot, then Jo should continue to take it or drive to the basket as he did.
If they play him honest and the shot is not there, he has proven to be a very good passer. Should we expect Jo to have numbers like that always? Why not, if the shots are there for him, and he continues to rebound like he always has. Remember, most of the Bulls' offense is not designed for him he, has to pick his spots.
Q. As usual, the Bulls left for Philadelphia via the team charter. What is that experience like?
A. As I said, Game 3 is here in Philadelphia. The Bulls travel on a very nice charter airplane where the seats are all the size of first-class seats on a commercial flight.
Sounds great, right? Well remember, most basketball players are oversized as well, so the seats are like coach seats for the average person. It is very comforting to be on the plane with the same people all the time. You become like family.
The flight attendants are superb and know what you like and bring you your favorite drink just after you get settled in your seat. Mine is club soda and a splash of cranberry. The Bull's Chef Steve Jackson caters the plane flights out so we are always guaranteed a good meal when we depart Chicago. Meals are catered from different restaurants on the road, so we always get a taste of the local cuisine of the city we were just in. Everybody loves Memphis for the barbecue.
Most flights day or night the guys try to get some rest. A few will watch movies on their laptops or talk. It is normally pretty quiet and usually uneventful, unless there is turbulence ... much like in Game 2. But it always smoothes out and we land safely, as I'm sure this series will.
• Bill Wennington provides color commentary for all Chicago Bulls broadcasts on WMVP 1000-AM. Wennington is in his ninth year as a Bulls broadcaster, partnered with Chuck Swirsky. Before that he played in the NBA for 13 years and with the Bulls for six years. He owns three championship rings from his Bulls' playing time. He has been inducted into the Quebec and Canadian basketball halls of fame.
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