Game 2 Stats:
Derrick Rose: 36 points (12-13 FTs), eight rebounds, six assists, six turnovers
Danny Granger: 19 points (7-14 FGs), four assists, three steals
The Bulls left Chicago with a 2-0 lead, but those wins weren’t as convincing as you may expect to see from a number one seed against the lowest seed in the playoffs. Regardless of how the Bulls did though, experts would be picking their games apart and finding flaws. The Bulls know and expect this.
The Bulls have played well when they needed to; which, in the postseason, is a great sign. They haven’t blown people away for the first forty minutes, but they have outplayed Indiana in the last eight. That’s a great sign for not only this series, but the rest of the playoffs. A lot of that is Rose. He has stepped it up to another level (how many levels does he have?) when Chicago has needed him to do so in the fourth. That includes scoring and dishing, specifically to Kyle Korver.
Which brings up the next point; Chicago’s “finishing lineup” (Rose, Deng, Korver, Boozer and Noah), which seems to be playing (at least on offense) during crunch time, has been amazing. They have a 143.44 offensive rating compared to a 107.59 rating. That offensive rating is absurdly high. They don’t play many minutes together (16) but when they are on the floor, they dominate.
That lineup is shooting 53.1 percent from the field, 50 percent from three and averages six turnovers per 48 minutes. Obviously this squad can’t keep this up for 48 minutes, these numbers are just “per 48 minutes” extrapolations, but it’s a great sign for the ends of games.
The 107 defensive rating is pretty bad, especially for Chicago, but not when you compare it to their 143 offensive rating. And remember Boozer and Korver are in on that lineup, so that brings down the defense. And when the Bulls need stops, those two guys probably won’t be in.
Chicago’s starting lineup (Rose, Bogans, Deng, Boozer, Noah) has been much stingier on defense, but their offensive rating falls even further. The starters’ o-rating is 88.63 and their defensive rating is 90.43. They are shooting 31.5 percent from the field and 15.4 percent from three. Yuck. That partly explains the poor starts that the Bulls have been experiencing.
But with all that, the Bulls are still up 2-0, and that’s really all that counts. That’s not to say there isn’t much to work on though.
“We just don’t want to relax,” Bulls forward Luol Deng said. “Whether we go out and win by 20 or win by one or whatever, I think there’s always going to be something that we’re going to talk about that we want to get better at. That’s just been us all year, where we’re never too high and never too low. We just know what we want to get to.”
And to get to that goal, Chicago will have to pass a new test: playing on the road in the playoffs. The Bulls and Pacers split the games at Canseco Fieldhouse this season 1-1, with Indiana taking the most recent. That loss was also Chicago’s only division loss of the season.
Indiana has gotten out to early leads in the first two games, but the pro-Bulls crowd hasn’t quieted or gotten behind them, obviously. That will change when the stadium is dominated by Indiana fans, if in fact Pacers fans outnumber Bulls fans. Chicago fans have traveled well all year long (they rank first in home attendance), while Indiana ranked last in attendance this year. Crowds are often overblown, but it wouldn’t hurt to see some red in Indy for tonight’s game.
Another question mark is whether Darren Collison will be able to play. Indiana coach Frank Vogel said the Indiana “is preparing not to have him.” Collison is listed as a game-time decision, but he expects to play. Indiana’s backups are A.J. Price (13 points in 24 minutes) and T.J. Ford (5 points in 9 minutes). Collison has done well on both the offensive (18.4 points per 36 minutes) and defensive ends (slowing Rose) in this series. When he went down in game two, it changed the momentum somewhat. Whether he can go in game three, and how healthy he is, could have a big meaning for the outcome.
About the Author:
Braedan Ritter was born and raised in Pennsylvania but was swayed by gifts from his aunt to follow the Chicago sports teams. It didn’t hurt that the Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan playing for them, and the Sixers had…Derrick Coleman. Braedan has stuck with Chicago through thick and thin, and really thin (see: Chicago Cubs). And speaking of Coleman, Braedan is currently a student at Syracuse University.