First Round Game 3: Bulls-Pacers Preview and Open Thread

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.

17 Responses to First Round Game 3: Bulls-Pacers Preview and Open Thread

    BFD April 21, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    Right now Bogans is averaging 18 mpg against the Pacers, which is about 8 minutes too many. C’mon Coach, do as you preach and ROTATE FASTER!

    Drew April 21, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    This is game 3 dude :) (check your title)

    inkybreath April 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    No worries at all. The Pacers have played their way into expectations (without any reward to show for it) and they will suffer for it.

    Meanwhile, the Bulls have gotten the reward (aka wins) and are probably happy to be on the road and shake off some of their expectations – namely playing for the home crowd.

    I see this one playing out more like the games we have watched to finish the year – second half close-out.

    Bulls win: 104-89.

  4. Ryan April 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    Bulls need to limit the turnovers! That is a big reason Indy is able to keep the pace with us. Get out the pinetar, keep the ball moving, and keep the players moving.

    Gorditadogg April 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    The Bulls offensive line-up at the end of games is effectively Rose, Rose, Rose Rose and Rose.

    We need Boozer and Deng to pick up more of the offensive load early, and we need Bogans to hit the open threes. Our turnovers are mostly caused by pressure against Rose- when he gets double-teamed he needs to get rid of it quickly and we need to take it to the basket.

    inkybreath April 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    Yes, get rid of it quickly… The odds are against him surviving so many deep moves to the basket. If we end up playing Orlando in the second round, I will be hiding my face every time he drives on Howard.

    inkybreath April 21, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    Damn offensive foul on Deng in the first of the first was total Bull!

  8. Inception April 22, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    huuuge win! …..nice to see Rose have an off game, while other step up (Deng) – hey Granger – this win’s for you :)

    Matt McHale April 22, 2011 at 1:46 am #

    Man, the Pacers have done everything but win a game. This has been a really bruising series. Derrick is going to have to soak in a hot bath for weeks after the playoffs end.

  10. Inception April 22, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    ice those knees young man!

    inkybreath April 22, 2011 at 3:31 am #

    being wrong is so liberating ..

    BFD April 22, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    Hero of the Game right here –

    Ban! April 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Bogans was great this game. So were Korver and Deng, but I just want to bring up that Bogans, unlike usual, was one of the forces that brought in this third victory. His defense was smothering and he hit the shots he should have.
    I know it’s a bit early to say this, but earlier in the season I predicted that Bogans would be extremely valuable in the playoffs. Hopefully this prediction comes true.

    chitown4life April 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Wow not one mentioning of the hard fouls especially DoAll Deng from foster he should of been decked by some player on the court plain and simple . the way our coach wants us to play is one thing but they way the pacers are playing is another thing. You have the right to protect yrself and the time has come The bulls do that the way they hit Rose over and over no flagrant fouls called they almost had it out last night which I said was gonna happen but now is the time to set the tone not just this series but for future series .Send the msge Bulls show yr horns and make them hurt as you make the pacers pay.

  15. KurtThom'sMomma April 22, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    Son – the Bulls signed you to break Jeff Foster’s face.

    chitown4life April 22, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    Son – the Bulls signed you to break Jeff Foster’s face.

    Comment by KurtThom’sMomma — April 22, 2011 @ 2:03 pm
    Nice to see I am not the only one feeling foot to butt needs to be done here and now to the pacers players they down right got nasty yesturday somebody needs to send the right kind of msge to let them and others know not on our team not in a game your playing against us will this be allowed.

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