It's not that Dunleavy is a serious threat to do this again; hell, he'd never done it before in the postseason. He won the one game in this series the Bulls had to have to maintain any hope of winning. He, at the very least, is a threat the Wizards' defense has to respect. And it's up to the Wizards not to react to Dunleavy being open and running off screens and double-screens. One of the things the Bulls figured out, in going down 0-2, is that Bradley Beal had way too much energy in the fourth quarter of Game 2, particularly. Butler had to run Beal ragged defensively. And while Beal did score 25 points Friday, at least the Bulls made him shoot 4-for-11 in the second half after he went 4-for-7 in the first half. And if Dunleavy can occupy Trevor Ariza, it takes the 6-foot-8 swingman off of 6-foot D.J. Augustin and some of the pressure to score off teammate
Kirk Hinrich, who was so much better in Game 3, taking only four shots (hitting two) and recording five assists and five rebounds to just one turnover.
The Bulls had talked on the days off about creating "more catch-and-shoot situations" for Dunleavy, he explained afterward. "I got a couple of layups early and that got me going. I just had one of those nights. The ball felt good coming off my hand. ... They were screaming for me, passing it to me." And Dunleavy did what shooters do when they're feeling they can't miss: he kept firing away, just as his coaches and teammates screamed for him to do.
And who knows what's possible now that the availability of Nene is uncertain. It's Rod Thorn's call in New York as to whether Nene's grab of Butler's head was closer to a punch, and whether his two-handed grab of Butler's neck warrants a suspension in addition to the fourth-quarter ejection. Certainly, an ejection would have been the only thing coming from the commissioner's office 10, 15 years ago. But there were former players in attendance Friday night who feel that the NBA's decreased tolerance of this kind of physical confrontation is going to lead the league to sit Nene for Game 4. There was also some question immediately after the game as to whether Marcin Gortat left the bench during the skirmish, which by the book would call for a suspension. But a television timeout was called as the scrum developed, which makes it pretty cloudy as to where Gortat (or any others) are allowed to wander and when, once the action has been officially stopped by a timeout. Again, a study of the coach's videotape and interpretation will be the order of the morning in Thorn's office.
There's nothing the Bulls would like more than to play the Wizards without Nene, and nothing the Wizards would like more than another crack at home at the Bulls now that Wall (23 points, seven assists, four steals, one turnover but two big missed foul shots) and Beal (25 points, five assists, no turnovers) seem to be moving toward playoff mastery.
Where, in the case of the offense-challenged Bulls, will points come from Sunday, and can they find enough of them without Dunleavy having a second fantasy night?