Game 4 Stats
Joakim Noah: 21 points (8-13), 14 rebounds, -14 plus/minus
Derrick Rose: 15 points (6-22, 1-9 from three), 10 assists, 4 steals
Danny Granger: 24 points (9-19), 10 rebounds, 4 assists
Roy Hibbert: 16 points (6-12), 10 rebounds, 3 blocks
First things first; according to K.J Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Derrick Rose says his ankle is getting better and “if it’s not broken I’m playing.” The Bulls do have him listed as questionable for tonight’s game, but unless it falls off; I assume he’s going to play. Now to the court.
If the first three games of the series weren’t a wake-up call, maybe game four was. The Bulls lost for the first time since March 28, when they fell to Philadelphia at home.
The defense still hasn’t allowed Indiana to reach 100 points (Indiana scored 99 in game 1), but Chicago has failed to score themselves. Part of this can be attributed to Indy’s good defense. They are playing extremely hard (the same way the Bulls played hard on defense throughout the year) and have a solid game plan to slow Chicago’s offense.
But Indy’s solid defense is only part of the problem; there are still no excuses for Chicago’s offense. The Bulls are the second worst shooting team thus far in the playoffs, and only a few players are shooting well. Kurt Thomas and Kyle Korver are both shooting above 50 percent. The rest of the team…not so much. Maybe the most glaring problem is Rose.
Derrick Rose shot nine or more three pointers three times all year (in 81 regular season games). Rose went 11-29 from three in those games, or 37.9 percent. He has shot nine three-pointers twice in the playoffs already. In those two playoff games, Rose went 1-18, or 5 percent.
“Shooters shoot.” That’s a quote people like to use. But there needs to be a point where “shooters realize they are off today, and maybe should move closer to the basket before they shoot.” I know some of these threes were at the end of quarters, but Rose has no place taking that many threes (and T.J. Ford makes them from half-court so why can’t Rose?). He is much improved from behind the arc, but no one can stop him going to the rim. He can get there at will, so he needs to keep driving.
I will give him somewhat of a pass in the most recent game, when he injured his ankle and didn’t have the same quickness or tenacity going towards the hoop (after the injury in the first quarter, Rose scored just eight points). But even Rose didn’t use that as an excuse.
“There’s no excuses when you’re still playing,” Rose said. “That’s the way I think about it. If I was out there, I should’ve changed. But I’m going to change some things that I didn’t. If anything, I just missed shots. All my shots were short. I twisted my ankle but there are no excuses.”
I find it hard to believe that some these three pointers couldn’t be turned into mid-range jumpers. And Thibodeau doesn’t know the injury really affected Rose very much.
“It’s hard to tell with him,” Thibodeau said Sunday. “He’s so fast. The way he was attacking … now he didn’t finish as well as he normally does. And he didn’t get to the line. I thought as a team, we settled for the three too much.”
Rose is averaging 7.3 three pointers per game in this series. That’s too many, he isn’t Ray Allen. And actually Allen is averaging just 4.7 three point attempts in the playoffs. During the regular season Rose averaged six three-point attempts per game against the Pacers, making 2.3 (37.5 percent).
But this postseason, Rose is only converting on 17 percent of his threes. Forget Allen, he isn’t even Spencer Hawes or Luke Walton with those numbers (Hawes shot 24.3 and Walton shot 23.5 percent during the regular season).
Rose has carried the Bulls in crunch time, when they’ve been at their best; but perhaps if his shot selection was better earlier in games the Bulls wouldn’t have to make such epic comebacks in each game.
The blame can’t be placed on just one person, and it’s definitely not all on Rose, but when he isn’t hitting from three he shouldn’t keep launching them up. It’s like he is trying to prove he can make them, when really he should be proving he can get to the hoop at will and score.
More than 30 percent of Rose’s shots are coming from behind the arc. That number is skewed because he has been fouled on a lot of drives and those shot attempts don’t count, but that number is still too high. During the regular season Rose shot 23.6 percent of his shots from three. Why the increase?
He is shooting 44 percent from two-point range, and 87 percent from the line. Those are solid numbers, especially when he is averaging 13.3 free throw attempts per game.
Again, this isn’t to take anything away from the Pacers, as they’ve played above expectations. And with their play, and a little better luck and finishing, they could be leading the Bulls in this series. Also, this doesn’t put all the blame on Rose, but the Bulls go as he goes, and if Rose isn’t getting his points it will be hard for Chicago to win. This is only amplified with Rose’s ankle injury. If he isn’t scoring, who will step up?
There are a lot of things the Bulls need to work on, Boozer needs to show up, Deng needs to be as consistent on both ends of the ball as he was all season and the bench needs to outplay Indy’s bench (when or if they get the chance).
The Bulls learned a lot from their first try at a close-out game, and have tons to improve on. But losing game five may leave the Bulls questioning how they can make their much needed improvements; and may just give Indiana the confidence and momentum they need to even the series. Let’s hope the Bulls don’t let it get that far.
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.