Bulls and Blackhawks can both close it out tonight


The Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks each have opportunities to close out their first-round series tonight in Milwaukee and Chicago respectively.

The Chicago Bulls survived a close call in double-overtime on Thursday night to take a commanding 3-0 series against the Milwaukee Bucks in their best-of-seven series.

More from Da Windy City

Despite a 5-2 loss on Thursday to the Nashville Predators, the Chicago Blackhawks hold a 3-2 series lead in their best-of-seven series.

The question for both teams on Saturday is, will tonight be the night they move on to Round 2?


In the three victories over the Bucks, the Bulls have clearly been the more talented team.

With Derrick Rose playing at a high level and under control, the Bulls have followed his lead and taken control of the series.

Along with Rose’s comeback to the playoff spotlight, Jimmy Butler has emerged as one of the best options in the game offensively. Butler provides versatility on both ends of the floor, but his ability to attack, get to the line and be a reliable option from beyond the arc.

For the Bulls to close Milwaukee out on Saturday: The Bulls haven’t swept a team in the playoffs since the 2007 postseason, when they swept the defending champion Miami Heat in the first round.

On Thursday night, the Bulls came out a little lackadaisical and found themselves down 18 points in the second quarter. But, then the talent of the Bulls roster took over and cut the lead all the way down to one possession in less than four minutes.

Simply put, the Bulls just have to play their game on Saturday.

Rose and Butler have averaged 50.7 points combined per game in the first three games, Pau Gasol is averaging 12.7 points and 14.3 rebounds per game and Mike Dunleavy is shooting 55 percent from long range in the series.

The Bulls are clearly the better team in this series and they’ve shown it. If they do it again on Saturday, Bulls fans can take the drive up I-94 with brooms in hand.


The first-round series between the Blackhawks and Predators has been arguably the most interesting series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs so far.

Nashville took a 3-0 lead in the first period of the first game, which led to Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville inserting Scott Darling in goal.

Darling stopped 42 shots after starting the second period and the Blackhawks came all the way back from three goals down to win 4-3 in double-overtime.

After that amazing relief appearance from Darling and starter Corey Crawford struggling again in Game 2, Darling was given the starting role and sparked the Blackhawks to a 3-1 series lead with two stellar performances at home.

Now, with an opportunity to close out the series back on home ice, the ‘Hawks know it’s time to finish the Preds off.

How the Blackhawks can close out Nashville on Saturday: Since 2007, better known as the year the Blackhawks drafted Patrick Kane, the ‘Hawks are 12-4 in “closeout games”.

More from Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are the most talented team in the playoffs and are the most experienced bunch. They know what it takes to get the job done when it’s time.

For the ‘Hawks to finish this, one thing that has to happen is improvement on the power play.

When the Blackhawks came back from a 3-0 deficit in Game 1, it was the power play that sparked the comeback.

Both power play goals that the Blackhawks have scored in the series came in the first game. It’ll be interesting to see if Quenneville sticks with the “four-forward” first unit on the power play.

Along with the power play, Scott Darling has to be sharp. When he’s been on, he’s been quite a nuisance for Nashville in the series. In the three wins for the Blackhawks, Darling has stopped 127 of 131 shots on goal.

More from Da Windy City

Next: After four long years, Derrick Rose is (finally) back