A short-handed Chicago Bulls squad fell at home to the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday to set up Saturday’s Game 7 at the Barclays Center. With the status of two starters still up in the air, the Bulls face an uphill battle on the road if they hope to advance to the Eastern Conference semis.
For Chicago to pull out the win, Tom Thibodeau will need his team to follow these four steps:
1. Let Nate be Nate
Nate Robinson can be an immensely frustrating player for a coach. He’s so emotion-driven that bad shots and bad fouls are just part of the package when he’s put in a significant role.
However, Robinson’s scoring has saved the Bulls throughout this series, and Chicago can’t hope to get enough offense to win without another big game from the little point guard. Thibodeau will need to show patience with Robinson’s antics in order to reap the benefits of his explosive three-point shooting.
2. Get as much as possible from Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich
The 2013 NFL Draft is in the books, and the Chicago Bears’ choices over the weekend raised a lot of eyebrows. GM Phil Emery didn’t add the pass-catching tight end many analysts expected, and the first player he did bring in was one of the most unlikely choices of the first round.
Here’s a look at every pick the Bears made and how successful each move is likely to be (corrected for lower expectations in the later rounds):
Round 1 (Pick 20): OG Kyle Long, Oregon
The second son of former Raider Howie Long to wind up in the NFL, Kyle Long may wind up blocking older brother Chris when the Bears play the Rams in November.
Kyle is a phenomenal athlete at 6’6”, 313 lbs, and he can play multiple positions on the line (a major need for Chicago). However, he’s also immensely raw, with just one season of college experience, and the Bears had plenty of chances to address other needs with more proven players here.
Round 2 (Pick 50): LB Jon Bostic, Florida
The Chicago Bulls have a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series as they host the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. After an ugly defensive win in Game 3, Tom Thibodeau’s team would be happy with more of the same as they try to outslug Brook Lopez and company.
These four players will have huge roles in determining which team comes out on top at the United Center in Game 4:
MarShon Brooks, Nets
Jerry Stackhouse was useless off the bench on Thursday, and P.J. Carlesimo absolutely must have some offensive weapons to throw out there when Lopez or Deron Williams sits. Brooks is a pure scorer, and while he didn’t cover himself with glory in Game 3, he didn’t look as lost as Stackhouse, either.
At 6’5”, Brooks has the size and athleticism to make Chicago’s Jimmy Butler work on defense. The less Butler can drift around double-teaming and jumping into passing lanes, the better off Brooklyn will be.
Nazr Mohammed, Bulls
As the Chicago Bears look to rebuild their offense under new coach Marc Trestman, one obvious area of concern is depth at wide receiver. Brandon Marshall is a superstar and second-year man Alshon Jeffery shows great promise, but the pass-catching corps gets thin very quickly after those two.
Now, one of the biggest names (and loudest mouths) in NFL receiving history is expressing interest in joining Jay Cutler’s list of targets. As reported by CSN Chicago, Terrell Owens wants to get back into the NFL, and he wants to do it in a Bear uniform.
Owens’ affinity for the Bears (for whom he’s never played) stems from his past association with Trestman, who served as offensive coordinator and QB coach in San Francisco when T.O. was getting his start as a 49er. Additionally, the fact that the Bears have an obvious need at his position probably isn’t lost on a player who knows just how slim the market is for 39-year-old wideouts.
Among many problems in the Chicago Cubs’ rough start, the closer situation has been one of the most obvious. Carlos Marmol allowed at least one earned run in each of his first three appearances before losing the job, and newcomer Kyuji Fujikawa got injured almost immediately upon taking Marmol’s place.
Now, with the Cubs still scrambling for a solution, the Chicago Tribune reports that Marmol is likely back in the mix. Manager Dale Sveum is going with the dreaded “committee” approach, and his pool of candidates includes the mercurial righthander.
Although it’s understandable that Sveum wants to keep his options open during Fujikawa’s injury, the worst thing Chicago can do with Marmol is keep yo-yoing him in and out of the closer’s spot. It won’t help him, and it won’t help the team.