Game 2 Stats:
Luol Deng: 21 points (8-19 shooting), 6 rebounds, 6 assists
Derrick Rose: 23 points (4-18 shooting, 13-15 from the line), 5 TOs
Danny Granger: 21 points (10-21 shooting), 4 rebounds, 2 steals
Looking to close out the Pacers, Chicago will try to finally put a complete game together in this series. In games one and two, it was Derrick Rose who carried the Bulls. He averaged 37.5 points on 21-48 shooting (31-34 free throws), seven rebounds and six assists.
But in game three, Rose had a poor showing, shooting just 4-18 (22 percent) from the field, while recording just three rebounds, two assists and five turnovers. If there was a bright spot it would be his four steals (he had only three steals in the first two games combined). Oh, and his game-winning layup with under twenty seconds left, that was a good thing too. Even in his poor games, Rose comes up big and his confidence shows.
“We’ve been winning games and we didn’t even play our best basketball yet,” Rose said. “We’ve been finding ways to win. I think these games are going to help us in the long run.”
And this new path to victory answered the question of whether the Bulls could win if Rose had an off game and who else could step up when needed. Luol Deng answered that call. Deng scored 21 points on 8-19 shooting and tied for a game-best plus/minus of +9 (tied with Josh McRoberts). Joakim Noah came up big as well. Jo scored eleven points, grabbed ten rebounds and blocked four shots. Keith Bogans even hit all of his threes to add nine points.
The Bulls still only shot 38.9 percent from the field though. And after dominating the boards the first two games, Chicago tied Indy with 42 boards. There’s always going to be something to work on, but this time the “something” happens to be a “someone”.
Carlos Boozer missed the call for filling in for Rose’s poor game. His phone must be on vibrate and maybe he forgot to set his alarm as well, because that would explain his relative no-show thus far in the playoffs. Boozer is averaging just 11 points per game so far on 36 percent shooting. He had one good game, game two, where he scored 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. His offensive rating has fallen from 107.4 during the regular season, to 100.2 during this series.
There are a few positives for Boozington. His defensive rating has dropped as well, from 100.94 to 96.5. And he is leading the team in rebounding during the series (11). But the Bulls didn’t sign him for his defense, obviously (because that would be like signing Darko Milicic to play basketball and pay him $20-million. Wait, someone did that. Nevermind, bad example). Boozer is on the floor for his offense, and, for the most part, it hasn’t been there. He shot 51 percent in the regular season, and he’s now shooting 15 percent worse in the first three games of the playoffs. Maybe the Bulls won’t need Boozer’s offense this series, but they will need an inside presence in the next rounds if they advance and want to keep advancing.
First-things-first, the Bulls need to close out the Pacers. And Indiana will throw everything they have at the Bulls (including elbows apparently) in what could be their last game of the season (and with a lock-out looming, who knows how long they could be done for). Or, maybe the Pacers spirit will be broken after losing a fourth-quarter lead in each of the last three games. I wouldn’t bet on a professional team that has played the number one seed close in all three games to end the series by giving up. No matter what happens, the Pacers deserve a lot of respect for the fight they have shown thus far. They have drastically disrupted the Bulls offense and made what many believed to be a lop-sided series very interesting (Chicago has won the three games by a combined 15 points).
It would be nice for the Bulls to get some rest. Especially Rose before round two, and before he gets beaten up again.
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.