There are a lot of reasons the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Chicago Bulls in Game 2. But the play of Sixers guard Jrue Holiday was the biggest reason the series is tied 1-1 heading into tomorrow night's game at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia.
Holiday scorched the Bulls for 26 points on 11-for-15 shooting from the field. He shot 3-for-3 from 3-point range. He handed out six assists. He also played 41 minutes. Holiday did a better job of knocking down the open shots in the second game despite scoring 17 points in Game 1.
"I think the shots are pretty much the same," Holiday said. "The shots fell in the second game. The first game they kind of went in and out. I look more to set people up. It comes down to: I need to be aggressive. If I'm aggressive, scoring, that's going to open things up for everyone else."
Holiday did open things up in the backcourt, particularly for shooting guard Lou Williams and second-year guard Evan Turner. Williams tallied 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field. Turner notched 19 points on connecting on 8-of-15 shots.
Although Holiday played a splendid game offensively, Sixers coach Doug Collins was very impressed with his defense on 6-foot-7 shooting guard Richard Hamilton, who moves extremely well without the basketball.
"We didn't want Evan chasing Rip," Collins said. "We thought Jrue would be a better guy chasing Rip. We wanted to obviously keep Dre [Andre Iguodala] on Luol [Deng]. Evan does a good job of guarding the ball. Evan, at this stage of his career, to me, does a better job on the ball than he does chasing. That's something he didn't do in college. Also, that puts him in a position so when that ball does go up, he can go back and rebound it.
"When you're guarding a guy like Rip Hamilton, it's such a team effort. The guy is so smart. This guy is a champion. When he uses those screens, he knows where he wants to go. He knows who he wants to get involved with having to play him. So for us to get him to go where we want him to go, it sort of becomes a battle of wills."
The playoffs are a game of adjustments. In the first game, Hamilton had 19 points and shot 6-for-7 from the field, 6-for-6 from the free throw line and 1-for-1 from 3-point range in 27 minutes. In the second contest, he was limited to 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting from the field.
"As this series goes on, the X's and O's, all those things you talk about, the adjustments and the tape you watch and everything," Collins said, "it comes down to the will to get the ball where you're supposed to get it. The will to go get that rebound. The will to go and get that 50-50 ball. It's just the little things along those lines."
The Bulls are playing without their star guard, Derrick Rose, who is lost for the postseason with a torn ACL. Rose is the reigning MVP. He's one of the elite players in the NBA. The Sixers were able to take advantage of his absence in Game 2.
The next two games are huge for the Sixers. They're both at home. Rose generated a lot of excitement when he came out to half court at the beginning of the second at the United Center. Holiday anticipates an enthusiastic crowd in Philly.
"I'm pretty sure it's going to be just like it was for Chicago," Holiday said. "Like that first game, and even when Derrick Rose came out that second game. You see how crazy it was. You have great fans. That's what we like."