Blog Entry

Series Reset: Bulls have hands full with Pacers

Posted on: April 18, 2011 1:17 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 1:23 pm
Posted by Royce Young

The result was what we all expected. The Bulls beat the Pacers in Game 1. But how we got there was the surprising part.

Most everyone saw this as a four-game sweep or maybe the Bulls in five (as our Matt Moore once dubbed that, a "gentleman's sweep"). That could very well remain true as Chicago leads 1-0 and the Pacers may have missed their best opportunity to take a game from the Bulls.

But here's the thing about the Pacers: When they shoot well, they're very good. Frank Vogel has a list of shooters -- Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, Brandon Rush, A.J. Price, James Posey, Darren Collison -- that can fill it up in stretches. And that's what they did against the Bulls in Game 1, shooting over 50 percent for most of the game. During the regular season, the Bulls only allowed that in 10 games. (Now of course, Indiana finished up under 50 percent in the game, but the message was sent.)

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What might make Bulls' fans a bit anxious is that Chicago had to beat Indiana with two things: Derrick Rose and the free throw line. Rose went 19-21 on his own from the stripe while the Pacers went 11-17. (Chicago went 26-32 overall.) Take away Rose's transcendent performance (39 points, six assists, six rebounds) and the Bulls are left with their hat in their hands.

Chicago got little to nothing from Carlos Boozer who finished with 12. Luol Deng hit some big second half shots but faded in and out a bit. Other than Kyle Korver, the Bulls bench contributed little offensively. It's a concern for Chicago moving ahead not just in this series with the Pacers, but if they have any plans to go deep into the postseason.

So what can we watch for moving on in this series? Three things:

Chicago's perimeter defense. The Pacers shot 10-18 from 3 for the game and really their outside shooting is almost what did in the Bulls. Across the board, the Pacers were great from 3. Danny Granger was 4-8. Darren Collison, A.J. Price and Brandon Rush combined to go 6-7. Like I said above, the Pacers are a dangerous shooting team (remember that 20-21 third quarter from earlier in the season?).

Rebounding. The Bulls absolutely dominated on the glass, grabbing 21 offensive rebounds. The biggest came with under a minute left as Kurt Thomas tracked down a rebound that forced Indiana to start foul. The Pacers have decent size inside with Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Foster, but the Bulls are a superior rebounding team with Joakim Noah and Boozer.

The Bulls struggled offensively for a lot of the day, but all those second opportunities piled up. If Indiana cuts that number by three or four, the Pacers probably win.

How the officials handle Rose. Rose's 21 free throw attempts were the most from the opening weekend and is up there in terms of most all-time. The Pacers weren't thrilled with the free throw differential but it's hard to see how they have a ton of room to complain. Rose attacked the rim constantly and while yes, he did get the benefit of some calls, his aggressiveness is what forced the officials' hands.

Without the free throws, Chicago would've been in big trouble. If the next crew of officials lets the game get a bit more physical, it could have an impact. If Rose gets the whistle, you aren't guarding him.

Since: Mar 17, 2009
Posted on: April 19, 2011 3:13 pm

Series Reset: Bulls have hands full with Pacers

"Then we learned that it doesn't hurt when your reliance is on the best player in the NBA" @ SuperAnthonyP--It doesn't hurt, but it will not win you championships. Yes Derrick Rose has lead the Bulls to where they are at now, but with the exception of the last two games, he has not done it alone. I have been singing the praises of Rose's supporting cast and Thibs all year and feel they are greatly underrated. However, they have been nowhere to be found two games into the playoffs. Deng did keep them in the game with Rose on the bench during the second half of game one, but other than that its been all Rose. The size (height)and depth of the Bulls' roster has been one of the main reasons they have the best record in the NBA. Don't get me wrong, Rose has been phenominal, but no one player can carry a team this far. The Bulls are showing there inexperience (experience being one of the biggest factors in the playoffs) with their play thus far. The bright side is that, thanks to Rose, their lackluster play hasn't hurt them. Thibs has been great all year and I don't see why he cannot turn things around and get the rest of the team to start playing like they have all year. I was worried about this first series because of the Bulls inexperience yet with each playoff game they survive I think they will start to build momentum. Indiana is no slouch having finished the season the season strong (10-7) and they were a team that a lot of people, myself included, thought were a lot better on paper to start the season thean they performed this year. I am not going to take any credit away from the Pacers for having the Bulls on the ropes for these first two games. The Pacers are playing extremely well and are a big reason why the Bulls are struggling. I think its a combination of Indiana's good play and the Bull's tenative play that have brought these two teams closer than what they finished in the standings. This is the NBA playoffs so there are no easy games. I feel that the Pacer's are going to give the Bulls all they can handle these next two games in Indy, but I feel that having survived these first two, the rest of the team will step up and be able to put away the pesky Pacers. Playing these Pacers may turn out to be the best thing that happened to these young Bulls.

Since: Feb 2, 2009
Posted on: April 19, 2011 3:23 am

Series Reset: Bulls have hands full with Pacers

By your "predetermined" I understand that you feel the Pacers were hosed by the refs.  You must not have watched the whole game or watched it from a biased standpoint.  Case in point - Rose gets called for not one, but two fouls of Price shooting three-point shots.  In both instances, Price grabs Rose's arm to create contact and the refs fell for it.  Seriously, one timeis a missed call, twice is an effort to keep the Pacers in the game in the fourth quarter.  Honestly tell me that the three free throws awarded to Price didn't help the Pacers in the fourth - three points instead of an offensive foul called on Price. 

The officiating was bad - but for both teams.  You did not, and I believe could not, make a case that the refs prevented the Pacers from winning the game.  The reality is that the Bulls were able to overcome it, but the Pacers were not.  At the very least, the refs didn't blatently decide the game.

BTW - Your post seems more to show your bias against Chicago.  St. Louis, right?  Or are you really a Pacers fan that is just upset with the outcomes thus far?

Since: Jan 10, 2010
Posted on: April 19, 2011 12:39 am

Series Reset: Bulls have hands full with Pacers

another great nba playoff game ruined by terrible officiating. its almost like watching pro wresting....predetermined

Since: Mar 22, 2011
Posted on: April 18, 2011 7:18 pm

Series Reset: Bulls have hands full with Pacers

For three and a half quarters this game was shaping up to be an upset which highlighted the Bulls glaring weakness - their heavy reliance on star PG Derrick Rose. The Pacers, though led by Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Granger, played as a solid unit, particularly on defense. Then we learned that it doesn't hurt when your reliance is on the best player in the NBA. And after a dagger three by Kyle Korver we saw flashbacks of Jordan to a much lesser Steve Kerr. One thing's for certain though, the Pacers are not scared of this team; look for a continued tough series.

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