Wennington: Pressure's on Sixers now
Q. What are you expecting for Game 6? Is this the Sixers' game to win or could they end up playing tight knowing the pressure is on to win at home?
A. Game 6 now puts the pressure on the 76ers. They do not want to have to come back to Chicago for a Game 7. The Bulls got their confidence back and found that there is life after injury if they believe in themselves and play like we have seen all season. The defensive adjustments in Game 5 stopped Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen, who both came out and started to get hot.
Again, Elton Brand was slowed offensively and defense was a priority to all the Bulls, who held the Sixers to 26 first-half points, a franchise playoff low. If the Bulls come out and play the same way tonight, they will be returning to Chicago for Game 7.
Q. Did the Bulls find a winning rotation in Game 5 -- more Ronnie Brewer, less Rip Hamilton and Kyle Korver -- or was that a strategy that may not work in the next game?
A. Ronnie Brewer played with energy and passion, and many feel his play and defense turned the game the Bulls' way. Yes, this was a winning rotation for Game 5 and very well could be for Game 6.
As regards to playing time for Rip Hamilton and Kyle Korver, that remains to be seen. In Games 1 and 2, when Hamilton scored 10 and 17 points, respectively, we were talking about how great it is to have him on this Bulls team. In Game 1, Korver hit a couple of 3s to help secure the victory.
The playoffs are a series of adjustments by coaches and players. As Phil Jackson used to tell us all the time, "Basketball is a series of actions and reactions, the winner is the one who is acting the quickest."
You can sacrifice offense for defense and vice versa depending on the situation in each game.
Q. What about the Bulls' shot distribution? With 24 points in Game 5, did Luol Deng make a case that the Bulls should be going to him more often?
A. The thing we get caught up in is statistics -- and Luol's stats (10 of 19 from the field) were great in Game 5. In Game 1, he shot 8-for-14 and had 17 points. In Games 2, 3 and 4, he shot a combined 10-for-30 -- not so good. So to come out and say give Luol 20 shots every game is mistake. Every game is going to be different and on days like Games 1 and 5, get him the ball more.
As I have said, the Bulls are really the definition of team so they must ride the hot hand, whether it be Deng, Boozer, Hamilton, Korver, Gibson, Watson or whomever. Now with the injury to Derrick Rose there is not going to be just one player that can take over a game at will.
Q. Any favorite memories of playing in Philadelphia, either in the NBA or during college?
A. I have been coming to Philadelphia as a player since 1981 when I was in college at St. John's University in New York.
As a sophomore in 1983, I remember playing at the old Spectrum against Villanova. Bulls Assistant coach Ed Pickney, also a sophomore, was on that Villanova team. They had a senior center named John Pinone who was first-team all-Big East. The game went into overtime and Villanova won by 1 point. I fouled out in overtime, but I had a good game and played well against John.
That game gave me the confidence to keep improving and becoming the player that I did -- much like Game 5 may have given the Bulls the confidence to beat the Sixers tonight.
• 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.