Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew confirmed that Jason Collins, who was scoreless in Game 5, will start at center against the Bulls in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series tonight at Philips Arena.
Drew had started Marvin Williams in Games 1-3, but opted for the 7-0 Collins after the Bulls outrebounded the Hawks 58-39 in Game 2 and 47-34 in Game 3. Collins had four points and no rebounds in 12 minutes in Game 4 and no points and two rebounds in 15 minutes in Game 5, but the Hawks minimized the Bulls' advantage on the boards -- 37-36 in Game 4 and 37-33 in Game 5.
The Bulls lead the series 3-2 and can clinch with a victory tonight. But the Hawks, who have played well in the series overall, will be tough to beat with their postseason lives on the line.
''I thought the walk-through went very well [earlier Thursday],'' Drew said prior to the game. ''Watching body language, facial expressions ... they were very focused. Whether that's a good sign or not -- they're tough to read at times. But I do sense that they are quite aware of the urgency.''
The Bulls still have Game 7 at the United Center if they lose tonight. But they're trying to play Game 6 as if it were their Game 7.
''This is the biggest game of our life right here,'' guard Derrick Rose said. ''That's the way we have to go into it. This is our championship game. It's important to us. We're going to try hard seal the deal.
''We know it's going to be hard, but we have to go out and do our job. It's big game because it's our next game. If anything, we have to be in attack mode. We have to live in the moment. I know I want this game ... I know we want this game really bad.''