Against all odds, Bulls must make this personal

Against all odds, Bulls must make this personal
May 8, 2012, 4:24 am
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Carlos Boozer brought it up after Sunday's Game 4 loss. Richard Hamilton was asked about it at Bulls practice Monday. The time Rip's Detroit Pistons rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the 2003 playoffs to beat the Orlando Magic in the first round. It's worth mentioning. It gives you hope. It can be done.

But then you look a little closer and you realize it's not done very often. Only eight teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a NBA playoff series. The last team to do it was the Phoenix Suns, who beat the Los Angels Lakers in a Western Conference first-round series in 2006. In case you're wondering, only three of those teams went on to win it all. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. We just need to concentrate on the Bulls fighting off elimination in Game 5 Tuesday.

I have no idea if the Bulls are going to win this game and live to play another. For the first time all season, I truly have no feel for this game. As soon as I think we can stick a fork in this tattered bunch, another part of me thinks they're going to come out guns-a-blazing in front of the home crowd and reclaim their faded glory.

In franchise history, the Bulls have never rallied from a 3-1 deficit in a playoff series, failing in all five previous attempts. Let's face it, the odds are against them.

Call me crazy, but I still believe if the Bulls can just make a few adjustments and play like their lives depend on it, they may be able to not only win Game 5 but win the necessary three straight and advance.

The most encouraging thing I heard at Bulls practice Monday was when Rip Hamilton said, "Right now, it's personal. We can't just go out there as professional basketball players, we have to make it personal."

Yes, take it personally. Bulls players should be personally offended that a No. 8 seed is about to knock off a No. 1 seed for only the fifth time since 1984. Not in our house!

It's time to pull out all the stops. Use Mike James if you have to -- he's bigger, more physical (to help counter Evan Turner) and plays better defense than C.J. Watson and John Lucas III. He'll be more proficient at running the offense since he's not a scoring point guard and he might distribute the ball better to get Luol Deng and Hamilton more shot opportunities. And, for Pete's sake, maybe he can stop Jrue Holiday during the critical 4th quarter?

I'm not saying James is the answer by any means, I'm simply suggesting that coach Tom Thibodeau needs to throw out the playbook at this point because whatever the Bulls have been doing hasn't been working. They've been sticking to a failed plan and it's time to make adjustments.

Play with a sense of urgency, make it personal and the Bulls can win this thing. Of those eight previous teams I mentioned that came back down 3-1 to win the series, six of them played Game 5 at home. The Bulls have as good a shot as any to make history here.

Even if it is against all odds.