The Chicago Bulls haven't played their best game in the playoffs thus far, but they've still managed to put a stranglehold on their first round playoff series with Indiana. 94% of the time the home team wins the first two games of a series, they go on to win the entire series, and I doubt they'll have any trouble finishing off the Pacers in this game.
However, if the Pacers are to win a game in this series, this is the game.
Thoughts on the game
The keys to winning haven't really changed all that much. Derrick Rose should dominate the game, especially with Collison limited or out. So instead of reprinting similar matchups, here are some loose thoughts on the game.
Even if you can't take a lead, just keep it close the first half
The Bulls haven't played well in the first half, and while I'd love to say the key is to come out and dominate from the beginning, the Bulls have proven that they don't need to do that.
First, the Pacers aren't going to go away. They've shown that they're going to play tough no matter the score in the game or the series. As such, sucking the energy out of them isn't likely possible anyway.
While we'd love the Bulls to blow the Pacers out to restore our confidence in them, and it's certainly a possibility, on the road especially, you just need to remain in striking distance at the end when Derrick Rose time happens.
Work on solving the trap
The Pacers have no hope to defend Derrick Rose one on one. They're going to go with hard double team traps 30 feet from the basket frequently. These traps have occasionally forced the Bulls into high turnover play. While the Bulls can fight through that against the Pacers, they're going to see this defense over and over again in the playoffs.
As such, work on solving the trap by finding your exit angles to get the ball in the open floor. The play in which Rose got the ball to Noah who kicked it to Korver to end game two is the type of outlet option the Bulls are going to need to consistently find and exploit to stop these trap defense in the long run.
If possible give the bench some love
The Bulls bench hasn't played with the same energy or ability that it did in the regular season, and if the Thibs can find a way to get these guys some minutes together to develop continuity and go back to his previous bench rotation of Watson, Brewer, Korver, Gibson, and Asik more I think that might help.
Thomas has been needed in this series due to his toughness, and he might be needed next series for the same reason against Dwight, but the Bulls bench plays at a lower tempo while he's in the game which might be hurting their jib a bit.
I'll be at the game, so won't be commenting live during it, but I will try to tweet about it if I get cell reception in Conseco Fieldhouse. I think the Bulls should win this game, but I won't be panicked over a loss, this is the toughest game of the series for Chicago, down 0-3, the Pacers are going to have a much harder time getting up for the game.
I expect the Bulls to have plenty of home town support for the game and a crowd consisting of at least 30% Bulls fans.