Bulls hope for comeback at home
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Tom Thibodeau isn't concerned with winning three games in a row, or even winning one game. For now, the Chicago Bulls coach said he is only focusing on the first quarter of Thursday's Game 5 in the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat.
Thibodeau's Bulls, down 3-1 in the series, face long odds in a comeback against the Heat. Of the 201 teams that have been down 3-1 in a best-of-seven series, only eight have come back to win the series. The Oklahoma City Thunder joined the wrong end of that list when they lost to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals Wednesday night.
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For Thibodeau, the road back begins with small steps.
"You can't look ahead or what's happened or the history of being down 3-1 or look into Game 6 or 7," Thibodeau said after shootaround Thursday morning. "All you can think about is this game. That's it. First quarter, that's all we're thinking about. Be ready to play. And then the next step will be the second quarter. That's all I want our guys thinking about."
If there is good news for the Bulls, it's that Game 5 -- and Game 7, if needed -- is in Chicago at United Center. Of the eight teams to come back from 3-1 to win the series, six hosted Games 5 and 7.
"It's either now or never," Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer said. "We've got to put it all on the line. You don't ever want to be down 3-1 because it's a lot of pressure on you but we've been fighting the entire year. We have to show true character and go out there and fight to the end of the game."
The Bulls were 36-5 at home during the regular season and 6-1 in the playoffs, but Thibodeau said it will take more than home-court advantage to beat the Heat.
"We've had great support at home all year but the most important thing is we've got to play well," Thibodeau said. "You've got to give your fans something to cheer about. We can't count on them to get it done for us. We have to get it done. We have to play better."
A Game 5 victory likely will fall on MVP Derrick Rose's shoulders. Rose is averaging 42.5 minutes per game -- including all 29 minutes of the second half and overtime in Game 4 -- and the workload appears to be taking a toll on his outside shot. After shooting a series-high 45 percent on shots from 5 feet and beyond in Game 1, Rose's shooting percentage has decreased every game to a low of 17.6 percent in Game 4, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
But Rose still has a staunch supporter in Thibodeau.
"He's gotten some good shots that he hasn't made but this guy has made big shots for us all year long," Thibodeau said. "He's made a lot of shots for us so I have a lot of confidence in his ability. The important thing is him making the right play, so when the second defender comes, hit the open man. Trust your teammates, just make the right play. That's all you can do."
ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell contributed to this report.