Del Negro says Bulls playing with a sense of urgency


Apr 22

By Adam Fluck

This season marks the 29th appearance by the Bulls in the NBA Playoffs, their fifth appearance in the last six years. But is just getting there enough? It isn’t for Head Coach Vinny Del Negro.

Down 2-0 to the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in their first round series and back home for Games 3 and 4, Del Negro and the Bulls face a must-win situation to keep this a competitive series.

“The guys know we need to win this game,” said Del Negro. “We played well enough in Game 2 to steal a game and we didn’t get it done. Here’s an opportunity. I don’t care if we’re at home or not, you still have to go out and play well. You have to execute. They’re the number one seed for a reason; they’re very difficult to beat, home or away. We’ll have to play really well. The guys know that and they’re excited. Hopefully we can control our emotions and use that energy wisely.”

No team in NBA history has ever bounced back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. In fact, only eight teams have been able to wipe out 3-1 deficits and only 14 have come back to win after being behind 2-0.

Thus, the odds are stacked against the Bulls should they fall in Game 3, but Del Negro stressed his group is well aware of the importance of the game and will come ready to play.

“For our guys, there seems like there has always been a sense of urgency just because of the last few weeks of the regular season,” he said. “They got us back on our heels the first game and then we made some adjustments and the guys really responded.

“We have to be sharper tonight and that sense of urgency is going to have to kick in somewhere,” Del Negro added. “Obviously we can’t go down 0-3. This is a huge game for us to get back in the series and the guys know that. It comes down to executing. We know where the ball is going to be in the fourth quarter and we’re going to have to be sharp. We can help our defense by putting pressure on them offensively by making shots and not turning it over. If you can take some of their easy baskets away, sometimes you can live with some of the difficult shots they make, especially LeBron.”

Meanwhile, Cavaliers Head Coach Mike Brown said he and his team are not taking the Bulls lightly.

“Chicago has given us fits the entire year,” said Brown. “Not only that, they were all in tune the last ten games of the regular season. Watching Toronto and watching Chicago, Chicago went 10-4 down the stretch. Everybody saw that and everybody felt it. Our guys are speaking the right language right now, so there’s no reason to put extra emphasis on it.”

For the Bulls to get back into the series, they’ll likely need more stellar play from their leaders, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

Over his first two games of this series, Rose has averaged 25.5 ppg, 9.0 apg, 4.5 rpg and 1.50 spg in 43.0 mpg. In nine career playoff games, Rose has tallied three double-doubles, five games with 20 or more points, two games with 10 or more assists and one game with 10 or more boards.

In Game 2 on Monday, Noah posted his first double-double of the series (fourth career playoff double-double) with a playoff career-high 25 points and a team-high 13 rebounds. In nine career playoff games, Noah has tallied 10 or more rebounds in seven games and 10 or more points five times.

“This is a good team,” said Brown, who believes the Bulls are better than what their record shows. “Noah is a very good player and Rose is on his way to being a great player. Everybody would love to have a guy as tough-minded and versatile as Hinrich is; Deng too. It’s a really good team that’s had some misfortunes with their injuries, but they stuck together through a lot of stuff and ended up making the playoffs.”

Audio—Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro on the pace of the series so far, as well as Flip Murray and Kirk Hinrich’s contributions in the postseason (04.22.10):

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