Most of the players on this roster haven’t seen a playoff game, let alone a playoff elimination game.
That’s exactly what’s at stake in Game 6 on Friday at the United Center: Win or go home.
Sounds like a perfect Dwyane Wade moment.
The kind of moment that prompted the Wade signing last offseason. Sure, the second-option scoring is nice, but at 35 years old and the bearer of three championship rings, Wade is that voice of reason, that teacher of experience.
School is in session.
“You can’t think about one game from elimination,’’ Wade said. “You have to focus on what you can control. You go and watch the film and control how to play your minutes better, how to be better in your minutes, how to help your team, how to give your all the next outing.’’
There was a lot Wade liked in the Game 5 loss Wednesday in Boston.
Isaiah Canaan held Boston’s most lethal offensive weapon, Isaiah Thomas, to 1-for-8 from three-point range, Robin Lopez was again productive in the middle, and more importantly, the Bulls were in control of the game for three-and-a-half quarters.
A 20-4 Boston run that included two technical fouls handed out to Wade and Lopez stained the game at the end, but Wade made sure his teammates knew that the game was there for the taking.
“I’m just letting these guys know, and it’s a lot of these guys’ first time in it, that we’re not going to get a call on the road, to our liking,’’ Wade said. “Not saying we don’t get any calls, but to our liking, the home team is going to get a little more cooking than you, and the emotions run high in the game. Unfortunately we got a few techs at the end, but emotions run high. I’ll take that. I’d rather see that than see nothing. It shows that people care. I’m fine with everything that happened.’’
In particular, he should be fine with his performance.
Wade finally had his breakout game in the playoffs, totaling 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
“D-Wade had it going,’’ Jimmy Butler said. “We just tried to ride him down the stretch.’’
But Friday is a game in which the Bulls will need to ride both Wade and Butler.
The lingering concern? As the Sun-Times reported Wednesday, Butler is playing through knee soreness. Coach Fred Hoiberg confirmed that Thursday, saying that Butler would be receiving treatment around the clock.
So what Butler has to give remains to be seen.
For the Bulls to succeed, they must not dwell on the negative.
“We’re going home where we lost the last two,’’ Wade said. “Focus on the game at hand. Don’t focus on it being an elimination game. That does nothing for you.
“We’re in a good place. It’s just weird because we won the first two [in Boston] and then they came and won the next two, but we’re right exactly how it should be, 3-2 going into Game 6 in Chicago, and it’s up to us to win the ballgame and bring it back [to Boston].’’
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