NBA News

10 Observations: Bulls advance in play-in, Coby White leads dominant victory over Hawks

The Bulls hosted the Hawks for the NBA's No. 9/10 seeded play-in game. Here are 10 observations

NBC Universal, Inc.

It was win-or-go-home time at the United Center on Wednesday. The No. 9 seed Bulls hosted the No. 10 seed Hawks at the United Center for a postseason play-in game.

And they came away victorious, 131-116.

Here are 10 observations from the game.

---- Remember, this is a play-in game between the No. 9 and No. 10 seed. The winner advances and the loser goes home. Should the Bulls defeat the Hawks on Wednesday, they will play the Heat --- who lost to the 76ers before the game --- in Miami to try and capture the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

---- The Bulls came in with two key injuries from Ayo Dosunmu (thigh bruise) and Andre Drummond (ankle). Billy Donovan said pregame Dosunmu had been cleared to play without a minutes restriction. Drummond was initially a game-time decision but was made available just before tipoff.

Here he is before the game, in what looked like an uncomfortable warmup.

---- The first quarter proved to be physical, defensive and LOUD. That jolted the Bulls into a 40-point first frame, giving them an early 18-point lead. DeRozan went into halftime with 18 points, 17 for Coby White, 12 for Dosunmu and 11 for Vucevic.

---- It became evident early on that Quin Snyder wanted to put pressure on DeMar DeRozan defensively. De'Andre Hunter did his studying on DeRozan, not biting on the early pump fakes. The Hawks blitzed him heavily on screens. However, that turned out to be a strong point for the Bulls, as DeRozan assisted six baskets in the first half and the Bulls shot 60.4% from the field and 53.8% from 3-point range.

---- The Hawks' defensive strategy felt similar to that of the Bulls' on their end, as they looked to put pressure on Trae Young. That went well, forcing him to make five turnovers in the first quarter. He finished the first half with 10 points on 1-of-5 shooting.

---- Alex Caruso went down early in the second quarter after getting tied up with Drummond at half-court. He struggled to put much, if any, weight on his foot. He went back to the locker room. Caruso returned during the end of the second quarter but left the game again just after halftime. You can tell he wasn't moving right. He didn't play for the rest of the game.

---- The energy in the United Center was exuberant, but it deflated as the Hawks brought the game back within six points, 73-67, by halftime. DeJounte Murray lit the fire for the Hawks, scoring 23 points in the first half on 8-of-14 shooting. Clint Capela was active under the basket, too, scoring 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting.

---- One of the keys to this game was limiting the Hawks from 3-point range and they did that. The Hawks shot 27.8% from downtown (11-of-37). Young (3-of-8), Hunter (0-of-7) and Bogdanovic (3-of-10) all owned a fair share of struggles from deep.

---- Billy Donovan can't have many notes on the Bulls' offense. They scored 131 points (110 through three quarters) while shooting 56.8% from the field and 42.3% from downtown. They attacked the rim aggressively, hustled in transition frequently and shot phenomenally from outside, which hasn't always been consistent for the Bulls this season.

---- Coby White came to play. He posted a team-high 40 points on 15-of-21 shooting from the field. He made 10 straight field goals in the paint before missing his first in the fourth quarter. White also added eight rebounds and six assists. Maybe most impressive? He didn't turn the ball over once. A game for White's memoir, certainly.

Side note: White's stats, unfortunately, don't count, as no stats do from the play-in games. It would've been a career-high point mark for White.

After defeating the Hawks, the Bulls will face the Heat on Friday in Miami. If they win, they'll be back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2021-22 season as the No. 8 seed.

Click here to follow the Bulls Talk Podcast.

Contact Us