You could almost dub the song "One Is The Loneliest Number," to the last two games the Chicago Bulls (2-0,) have played against the Indiana Pacers (0-2). It looks like a one man show, with Derrick Rose starring, producing, and scoring (aptly,) in another close game with the Bulls winning 96-90 over the Pacers. Once again Rose was the only significant, dominant factor in the No. 1 seed's attempt at making it to the 2nd round for the first time in over a decade.
The shoe-in league favorite and "As I See It" vote getter (See: Is Derrick Rose MVP?) Derrick Rose has played like no one else is on court, going for 36 points, 8 rebs, and 6 assists. Problem is that there are other players on the court. The rest of the Bulls, with exceptions to Luol Deng and the Bulls bench, have played as if they are waiting for the second round.
Bulls starters not including Rose went an embarrassing 12 for 40, scoring 38 points spread around 4 players. NBA title contender is not the first thought that comes to mind when I see those numbers. It seems as if nothing else much matters after hearing statistics such as that. But it gets worse, much worse "As I See It"
Defense was missing....again
- The Bulls prided themselves all season long stopping teams by playing shut down defense. Usually ending up shooting a higher percentage because of that. They ended the season 1st in opponent shooting percentage (.430,) and middle of the road (13) in their own shooting percentage (.462,) this is how they became the leagues best team. The Pacers have shot at a much higher percentage than the Bulls throughout the series thus far. In last night's game they out shot the Bulls 42% to 39%.
If the Bulls are going to get any wins in Indianapolis, this has to at least reverse. I do not see it applicable for Chicago to shoot that poorly at Conseco Fieldhouse and pull away with the win. Players are going to have to step up and take higher percentage shots, and keep Indiana away from making them. This shouldn't be a hard task, seeing as this is something they have practiced every day since training camp.
Turnovers are a recurring issue
- Chicago looks like they are experiencing what it feels like to be on the other end of being played with aggressive defense. A dose of their own medicine in ways, Indiana has stifled Chicago into making more mistakes in the halfcourt game. Chicago committed 21 turnovers, 6 by Derrick Rose and 10 from the other starters. It seems as if the length and athleticism is giving Rose & Co. the fits and making them play outside their game. Unfortunately, they wont be the only "long" team the Bulls play throughout these playoffs. If Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert, and Darren Collison are a problem to score against, than I can only imagine the battles vs. Dwight Howard, LeBron James, and Amare Stoudemire (maybe).
Not to mention the Los Angeles Lakers are the "longest" team in the NBA..
I believe that the Bulls need a dominant, convincing win over the Pacers in Indianapolis. This is the kind of confidence booster teams need late in the postseason. Especially for teams that pundits and analysts say have no "playoff experience" like Chicago. Miami beat Philadelphia 94-73 convincingly in Game 2, likely wrapping up the series in sweep fashion in Philly. A Miami sweep would mean significant rest for its stars and reserves. Something that would put the East at a disadvantage if any teams go more games than a four game sweep. This season unlike any other, is the most wide open for team to take. There are no favorites outside of Los Angeles.
Danny Granger may be right. They might just have a chance if they shut down Derrick Rose....
That's only if they can shut down Derrick Rose.
If they build on the disruption they have been giving Derrick through the first couple games, then sombody else must step up. Rose is capable of scoring a third of Chicago's points every night. But it is not realistic for him to have to.
"As I See It," here is the order of accountability
- Carlos Boozer : Carlos stepped up a great deal from his performance in Game 1, scoring 17 points on 6-12 shooting. But it wasn't his scoring that made his improvement that much to talk about. Carlos pulled down 17 rebounds and gave Tyler Hansbrough fits. Holding him to 2-12 shooting and looking like the dominant player Chicago signed a max contract over the summer. Five of his 17 rebounds came on the offensive end, creating second chance opportunities for Chicago gave the Bulls the upper hand in the long run. Chicago still however, needs to see significant improvement from Carlos on both ends of the court on a more consistent basis. 20 and 10 should be status quo for a max contract Power Forward.
- Keith Bogans : Keith has been the most consistent player on the Bulls roster this season. Unfortunately, it has been for consistently mediocre play for a starting shooting guard on the leagues best team. Bogans averaged 4.4ppg shooting 40% from the field. He also averaged 1.8 rebounds and 0.4 steals, despite logging an average of only 17 minutes per game, Keith was a glaring weak link for the starting unit. Being outperformed consistently by reserve Ronnie Brewer (6.6ppg, 3rpg, 1.3stlpg,) it appears unclear why coach Tom Thibideau remains loyal to Keith in the starters rotation. Brewer does give the second unit an added spark, but the starting unit could use an extra weapon and not just an extra player.
- Joakim Noah : Joakim was one the most integral pieces in various trade rumors throughout the season, not to mention in the courtship of this summers top free agents. Until injuries and flat out coveting from front office took him off the hypothetical table. His intangibles outwieghed his talents. His gaudy rebounding number and energy on the court was missed during his time out and wanted for the playoffs. So far neither the intangibles
or the numbers have showed up. Joakim scored a mere four points on 2 of 10 shooting. His 10 rebounds, 6 of which were on the offensive end keep him on the up, but consistent subpar performances in the playoffs and the Bulls are sure to meet their doom before making it to the promise land. If Joakim Noah is the Bulls heartbeat, than they have been experiencing Tachycardia in the past two games.
"As I See It," Derrick Rose can't do it alone. Although he is capable. The Bulls are going to have to give him assistance.