First Round Game 5: Preview and Open Thread

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.

12 Responses to First Round Game 5: Preview and Open Thread

    BULL4EVER April 26, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Well I already know it’s zero problem for Chicago even if D’Rose doesn’t even play because Chicago can win no matter what, not to mention we are winning tonight no matter who’s missing in action, especially when we have totally proved it all season.This Bulls team has tallied off 62 wins with all these injuries, they would have tallied off just about all 82 wins if it wasn’t for injuries playing a role all season.GO BULLS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    JML April 26, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Every game, the Bulls are down with 8-9 minutes to go. They put in, for the first and only time in the game, their “Good O” lineup of Rose, Korver, Deng, Boozer, and Noah, then proceed to demolish the Pacers. Seems like that lineup has got to be +40-60 against the Pacers over the course of the series, all other lineups are negative. Korver’s presence with the four starters totally changes that offense. He’s making every shot, and it makes things easier on the others too. Question: why not play this lineup more, and at least SOME in the first half?? Is Thibodeau afraid the 2nd unit would score zero points without Korver? Does he think the effect would “wear off” if the Pacers built up some immunity to this offense?? Does he think the initial defensive “tone” would suffer if Bogans isn’t in there? Watching these games, I cannot for the life of me figure out why this lineup only gets the last few minutes.

    inkybreath April 26, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Honestly, the way that Bogans has been shooting, he can support the 2 unit well enough, even to draw a defender …

    ScottA April 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    Definitely agree with the need for more Korver – he isn’t even getting killed on defense against Indiana. Any possession they give to George or Rush is a positive. It’s actually kind of strategic; it baits Vogel into isolating mediocre offensive players on a below-average defender. He’s gotten into that at several points so far – it’s tempting, but it hasn’t really worked for them.

    Gorditadogg April 26, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    I think the concept is that you can get away with playing a poor defender at the end of the game, because teams will just rely on their go-to guy at the end of the games. Early in the game, on the other hand, coaches will use strategy to try to take advantage of an opponent’s weaknesses.

    Korver played very strong last game, he has been stepping up. He has rebounded well, and he made a nice steal too.

    Rose however cannot make his shots, and it seems that HE MISSED EVERY ONE SHORT. I bet he had 10 consecutive shots hit off the front of the rim last game. Did he not notice that? Or his teammates?Couldn’t one of them say “Hey Derrick, go for the back of the rim next time.”?

  6. Inception April 26, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    so Vogel says indy will win the series if they win tonight….interesting.

    Rose – do your thing.

  7. Tae April 27, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    I want an apology for tonight, Matt.

    inkybreath April 27, 2011 at 2:27 am #

    Ahh, our team is back.

    It was really refreshing to see Asik & Gibson get some minutes.

    (I like the fire and firepower that Granger has shown. He hasn’t every really stood out (for me) in his career.)

    Scottie Pimpin April 27, 2011 at 2:41 am #

    great just when we’re winning by 20 my net connection is molassis. thats how you spell it right ?

    did i read correctly ? bogans in double digit scoring ?

    Scottie Pimpin April 27, 2011 at 3:33 am #

    just seen the highlight of dee rose block on hibbert….wow. (didnt like how noah gave up inside position like that though)

    Matt McHale April 27, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Tae — I don’t necessarily disagree, but what am I apologizing for?

  12. Inception April 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    vintage Boozer in game 5…suffered an injury and got into foul trouble….the future looks bright for our starting PF

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