Tag: Bulls Pacers

Indiana Pacers v Chicago Bulls - Game Five

NBA Playoffs: It took five games, but Bulls play like contenders


This looked like what we all expected this entire series to look like.

The Chicago Bulls dominated Game 5 Tuesday game from the start, were up 11 at the end of one quarter, pulled away in the third quarter and cruised to a 116-89 win. Now they sit around until next Monday (when the NBA says that series will start) and let Stan Van Gundy and Larry Drew fight to get off the hot seat.

The Pacers had kept the games in this series close by playing good defense, trapping Derrick Rose and using Paul George to limit him, and daring any other Bull to step up and beat them.

Finally the Bulls broke through Tuesday. Rose had 25 on 8-of-17 shooting and got a lot of those points against George — ankle problem? what ankle problem? — while Luol Deng had 24 points on 14 shots. The Bulls as a team shot 48.2 percent. More importantly, they shot 45.2 percent from three and hitting a franchise record 14 three pointers. In the end the Bulls averaged 123.4 points per 100 possessions, 19 points better than their season average.

Meanwhile, the Bulls kept on playing the defense that made them the No. 1 overall seed, with the Pacers shooting just 39.2 percent on the night.

You know things are going well for Chicago when Kyle Korver dunks.

The Bulls stretched out to a 10-point lead early on and the lead pretty much it hung around that number through the second quarter. Then in the third quarter the Bulls pulled away again, getting up by about 20, and from there we pretty much all knew it was about to end.

Maybe it got a little bit interesting was right at the start of the fourth quarter when Rose picked up his fifth foul. Of course, the Bulls were up 19, so there wasn’t that big a concern. The Pacers were looking for offense and went with a smaller lineup. Didn’t help.

The Pacers exposed some questions about the Bulls and their ability to score consistently in the playoffs that are going to have to be answered in the next couple rounds. Against better defenses.

For Indiana, there are a lot of big questions. They start with is Larry Bird coming back as president. Then, do you bring back interim head coach Frank Vogel, who certainly had the team playing better in his stint at the end of the season and into the playoffs. The offense opened up and there was a lot more defensive energy. But that is different than saying he’s a head coach.

The bigger question for the Pacers is how to step forward — this is a team stuck in the NBA’s quicksand of a middle ground. They are good enough to make the playoffs some years but never challenge. But they are not bad enough to fall down deep in the standings and try to find salvation in the lottery. A Los Angeles and New York can draw big free agents to get them out of that quicksand, Indiana cannot (not easily anyway).

So how do they move forward? They have some nice role players, but how do they get the stars to go with Danny Granger and make it a winner?

Pacers coach Vogel: Win Game 5 and we win the series

Pacers' head coach Vogel reacts during the first half of Game 1 of their NBA Eastern Conference first round playoff basketball game against the Bulls in Chicago

Because what the Pacers really want to do is give the Bulls some real motivation, we give you Pacers coach Frank Vogel, speaking at Tuesday’s shootaround (as quoted by several members of the media):

“We feel like if we win this game tonight, we’ll win the series.”

It sounds like he took the brown acid against the announcer’s advice, but I suppose you want your coach to feel that way. Confident, not tripping. You want him to think his team has a real chance. To say it out loud is another thing entirely.

Vogel is optimistic and a bit brash. Which is good. He got more out of these Pacers since taking over than Jim O’Brien did in a couple years, and in the playoffs they have defended well and tested the Bulls. They have played the role of plucky underdogs well.

Tuesday night their season is going to end. It was going to before Vogel said this to the media, it doesn’t really change anything. At the end of the day they have played hard and the Bulls have yet to play their best. That is about to change.

But when Larry Bird sits down to think about who should coach the Pacers next season, Vogel should get a long, hard look.

Derrick Rose: “It’s not broken, so I’m definitely playing”

Chicago Bulls v Indiana Pacers - Game Four

As if you thought Derrick Rose was not going to play to close out the first round…

Rose had an X-ray and an MRI, both of which came up negative, so he made it clear to Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago exactly how this was going down, including the needle.

“It’s not broken, so I’m definitely playing,” said Rose. “It’s the playoffs. The only thing you can do is take a shot and see how it feels.

“After I take the shot, I shouldn’t feel anything, so hopefully I can go out there and perform,” he continued. “It’s getting better every day. I’ve been getting treatment on it the last couple of days. Hopefully, it’ll be ready [Tuesday].”

Rose was out of the walking boot and was in flip flops. When the Bulls win Tuesday the Pacers players can spend the rest of the summer in flip-flops.

After the win Chicago should be off until the weekend, when the second round starts. That’s some extra days for therapy and rest so he can be ready to go against Atlanta… wow, Atlanta. Did not see that coming, did we?

Scottie Pippen calls out Carlos Boozer for lack of toughness

Chicago Bulls v Indiana Pacers - Game Four

On the surface, the Chicago Bulls are about to get out of the first round when they win Tuesday against Indiana. And they will point to their star Derrick Rose averaging 28.3 points per game despite all the defensive attention.

But the eight-seed Pacers have exposed some questions about the Bulls. Specifically, just how tough are the Bulls. Because the Pacers are being physical with Derrick Rose and who is stepping up to be a physical enforcer for the Bulls?

Chicago legend Scottie Pippen called out Carlos Boozer in the Chicago Sun Times for not being that man.

‘‘They’ve all got two legs and two arms,’’ the six-time NBA champion said. ‘‘You’ve got Carlos Boozer out there who’s spending fouls and a lot of his fouls are not needed at the time that he’s giving them. Those could be hard fouls. Those could be fouls that you knock a [Darren] Collison to the floor, you knock a [Jeff] Foster to the floor.

‘‘Utilize your fouls and make them more valuable for you and your team.’’

It’s all about timing. There are times that a message foul can work. And the Pacers have nothing to lose doing that. Pippen is right that some of Boozers fouls could be better timed. For sure. But retaliation is not the answer. Not in the playoffs. Pick your spots and this isn’t it.

But the Bulls have to know that things are only going to get more physical going forward — Boston or Miami will just beat on them — and they have got to be ready to answer.

Bulls’ Rose wearing “precautionary” walking boot for ankle; MRI negative

Chicago Bulls v Indiana Pacers - Game Four

UPDATE 9:07 pm: According to Aggrey Sam over at CSN Chicago, Rose’s MRI came back negative. So, it is just a minor sprain. Which means like we say in the rest of this post, you can bet he plays the next game.

7:04 pm: Derrick Rose is go for Game 5. And you can expect the Bulls star point guard and MVP to be to play a lot better than he did in Game 4.

But there might be a little concern as he spent Easter Sunday in a walking boot to protect that sprained ankle he got in the first quarter of Game 4, and he’s going to have an MRI (X-rays were negative), according to the Associated Press.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said trainer Fred Tedeschi told him Rose is sore, but the swelling is “not bad.” The walking boot is more precautionary…

“Every time somebody goes down, somebody’s always ready to step up, but knowing Derrick, he’s going to be able to play,” forward Taj Gibson said. “I know he’s not going to sit out and miss a big-time game like this.”

No, he won’t. But it would be nice for somebody else to step up. Luol Deng is averaging 17.3 points per game but shooting just 39 percent. Boozer is 12 points a game (and 11.5 rebounds) but is hitting just 37.5 percent. (To be fair, Rose is only shooting 35.2 percent overall and 17.2 percent from three, which will haunt them against better teams if things do not improve.)

Expect the Bulls to play their best defensive game, take control of a low-scoring game and get some rest before taking on Atlanta or Orlando. Rose and his ankle wouldn’t mind that stretching out.