If the top-seeded Bulls are to even their series against the Hawks on Wednesday night they'll need more production from Derrick Rose, this year's MVP, who struggled in Monday's Game 1 defeat. Rose led the team with 24 points and 10 assists, but he shot just 11-of-27 from the floor; Atlanta will gladly let Rose take 27 shots if it means no one else gets more than 12, as was the case Monday. But why did Rose have such a rough night?
Rose's night got off to an inauspicious start, as he shot 0-of-7 in the first period and failed to score. Of those misses, three were layups, two more were medium-range jumpers, and two were three-point tries. His final three periods, in which he tallied 24 points on 11-of-20 shooting, actually went okay. But there's still room for improvement.
For one, Rose didn't manage even one free-throw attempt despite taking 11 shots in the immediate basket area. The Bulls' star must do a better job of drawing contact. In addition to getting free throws out of the bargain, he also saddles Hawks players with fouls and puts Chicago closer to the bonus. In other words, it helps his scoring, hurts the opponent's personnel, and can help his teammates earn more cheap points down the line.
The second point ties in with the first, in a way: Rose can't miss so many open shots. During one third-quarter stretch Monday night, Rose got five straight fast-break opportunities, but he made just two of the shots; he missed a layup and two jumpers. Atlanta's among the league's worst teams when it comes to getting back in transition, so Rose ought to be able to exploit it. That he had eight transition possessions in Game 1 bodes well going forward, as it's hard to imagine his continuing to squander so many fast-break chances in the future.
If Rose merely draws more contact and makes more of his shots inside, Chicago stands an excellent chance of regaining control against the Hawks, who needed a sterling, 34-point effort from Joe Johnson on Monday (he shot 5-of-5 on threes and on free throws!) to get the eight-point win. Johnson can't possibly sustain that level of efficiency against the Bulls' league-best defense over a seven-game series.
Catch Game 2 between the Bulls and Hawks Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Central. TNT has the national telecast.