The Bulls have looked pretty good so far in the pre-season, not because they are 2-0 but mostly because Derrick Rose looks healthy. That was the #1 question of the offseason for Bulls fans, whether or not Rose would be 110% when training camp opened- well he is, so no worries there.
But how they beat the Pacers in the preseason opener- in Indianapolis, no less- well, it was bizarre.
Most preseason games, especially the first 4 or 5, see the starters play the first 7-10 minutes or so of the first quarter, then the subs play 5-6 minutes, and the starters finish the half. The second half is basically the same, except the starters play a few less minutes sometimes, and the 4th quarter is a mish-mash of 8th-12th men and guys who won't make the roster.
Saturday, October 5th in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis seemed like any other night for a preseason opener. Derrick Rose came back, Danny Granger came back, and the Pacers led 64-60 after 3 quarters. Folks settled in for what looked to be 12 minutes of garbage time.
Bulls- Hinrich, Snell, Dunleavy, Gibson, Murphy
Pacers- Scola, S Hill, Granger, Watson, Mahinmi
The first 4 1/2 minutes of garbage time, the Bulls go on an 8-1 run to take a 68-65 lead. Vogel sends starter George Hill back into the game for Watson, which seemed a little odd but nothing too major at the time.
Hinrich hits a layup to put the Bulls up by 5, and after a Hill miss and a Hinrich turnover, Thibs sends in Marquis Teague for Hinrich, clearing the end of the bench. Vogel doesn't go 3rd string, he puts Hibbert back in the game for Mahinmi. What? Now you're putting your All-Star, maximum salary big man back in the first preseason game with 5 minutes to go in the 4th quarter?
Then (yes, there's still another "then"), with 5:16 left, Vogel puts All-Star Paul George and starter Lance Stephenson back in the game. He's trying to win, the most meaningless game he'll play all year, he's trying to win.
He left George in until he fouled out, and the end of the Bulls' bench led by as much as 10 late in the game and Vogel finally pulled his starters with under 3 minutes left when the Bulls' lead was eight points.
What point was Vogel trying to make by trying to win that game? That he could beat Gibson and Dunleavy with Teague, Snell and Murphy, 3 guys who will barely get off the bench this season?
At least he gave Murphy and Teague the chance to shine in the clutch on the road- after Indy cut the lead to 2 and brought back all the starters, Murphy hit a big 3 and after a pair of free throws were split by Scola, Teague hit a huge 3 to push the lead back to six points.
Murphy then rebounded Hibbert's miss, and a pair of jumpers by Gibson iced this one.
You certainly have to wonder where all this Pacer love is coming from, they had one nice playoff run and people want to crown them? I'd say our bench, full of it's "lack of depth", showed their starters a thing or two in round one.