Facing potential elimination against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bulls’ sense of humor is still intact, at the very least.
When asked about the Bulls’ pulse, opening the door for a predictable cliché, the witty Mike Dunleavy had a catchy response.
“We got a good pulse, we're alive, we have one,” Dunleavy said to laughs. “We know what we gotta do. We gotta come out and get off to a good start and play a full 48 minutes.”
Putting together a full 48 suitable for framing is a rarity at this stage. Teams are too studied on what the other wants to do, too accustomed to set plays for any one team to dominate the other.
As for emotion, it usually dissipates at this stage, as long as you discount the Taj Gibson-Matthew Dellavedova incident as two teams tired of dealing with each other.
“It usually does. Just gotta stay focused,” said center Joakim Noah, perhaps the most emotional of the Bulls. “It’s an emotional game. We gotta keep our composure and not get frustrated. There’s going to be frustration in the game always and just focus on the next play.
The Bulls, feeling a bit sour after coming up short on the last two games, know the difference between being up 3-2 or in this position is quite minute.
“It's tough. Both teams have great players,” Dunleavy said. “LeBron (James) is a load down the stretch of the game. It's a play here, play there. Last game, it was an offensive rebound.
“Maybe it's a steal, loose ball, it can be anything but it's really, we can be up 4-1 and the series could be over and vice versa. They could be moving on as well. That's the way this thing has gone. It could come down to the last possession.”
Being back home to the United Center certainly helps, as this could not only the last game of the season but the last of an era. Having Pau Gasol back is a confidence boost, even though he’s clearly not 100 percent.
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They hope the scoring droughts of the last two games will come to an end with Gasol's reappearance, and for what he brings they’ll make sure he’s not exploited on the other end.
“Pau doesn't move around like a gazelle, so him at not 100 percent is OK with us,” Dunleavy said. “His size is still huge, he can still knock down shots. If he's a little slow getting up and down the court we can cover for him.”