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.
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?
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.
Three games decided by a total of 15 points.
The Indiana Pacers have been close in this series. Very close. But when it came to end-of-game execution — and players who can execute under that kind of pressure — Chicago has it and Orlando struggles.
The Bulls are up 3-0 and the only question that remains is if they close out in Game 4 or go back to Chicago for Game 5.
Can the Pacers win one game?
The Pacers have done a good job keeping the Bulls offense in check this series. Paul George has done a respectable job on the Herculean task of guarding Derrick Rose, and they have thrown a variety of traps and different looks at him. Other Bulls players have not really stepped up, Carlos Boozer has been unimpressive and Luol Deng inefficient (Kyle Korver when he gets a look from three, is the exception as he is 7-of-8 from deep in the series). On that side of the ball, the Pacers have done what they set out to do.
But offense wasn’t why the Bulls had the best record in the NBA.
It’s defense, and Indiana has not been able to get its offense going against the stingy Bulls. Tyler Hansborough had a good first game draining midrange jumpers but as those got contested he has not hit them much. Pretty much every jumper Danny Granger takes is contested but he can hit some and has. Darren Collison has been taking contested floaters in the lane all series.
Maybe for a game some of those contested shots will start to fall. Maybe the Pacers will get enough points off these shots to get one win. It only seems fair after three hard losses in this series.
We all know how this movie is going to end. The only question is how much longer until the credits.
The Indiana Pacers put up a much tougher fight against the Bulls than anybody thought they would in the first two games of their playoff series, even though they lost both games. Like the old Simpsons quote goes: in a way, both teams were winners; but in a more accurate way, the Bulls were the winners. Now the Pacers will have to win on Thursday or face a 3-0 series deficit, which no NBA team has ever come back from.
In order to avoid that scenario, the Pacers will have to shoot the ball the way they did in game one and contain Derrick Rose the way they did in Game 2. In Game 1, the Pacers gave the Bulls a scare by shooting a blistering 23-48 (48%) on their long two-point jumpers and three-point shots, while the Bulls only shot 10-33 from those areas. In Game 2, the Bulls’ outside shooting didn’t turn around, but the Pacers went cold as well, only shooting 16-43 on threes and deep twos. It’s not easy to make outside shots against the league’s best defense, but it’s something the Pacers will need to do if they want to have a chance in Game 3. If Darren Collison, who is currently listed as a “game-time decision” plays, it will make things much easier for the Pacers, as his combination of blinding quickness and a quality three-point stroke makes it easy for him to harass teams from the perimeter.
The Pacers did manage to contain Derrick Rose much better in Game 2 than they did in Game 1 — Rose still got his points, but he had to work much harder for them than he did in the first game, when he couldn’t buy a jump shot but was able to get into the paint whenever he wanted to. The Bulls’ supporting cast has yet to really show up offensively in this series, so if the Pacers can make their shots and keep Rose from getting whatever he wants whenever he wants it, they can take this game. If the Pacers stay cold from the outside, let Rose go off, or allow the Bulls’ supporting cast get into a groove, they will be in major trouble. It won’t be easy for the Pacers to even up this series, but that’s what a 37-win team should expect when facing off against the team with the best record in the NBA.