The Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers have played a physical, grimy style of basketball for four games. Despite, Frank Vogel's insistence that the Pacers deserve to have swept the series, the Bulls find themselves with a 3-1 lead despite playing a very low level of basketball through the series so far.
Derrick Rose is going to be given a shot of pain killers for his ankle and give it a go tonight in an effort to close out Indiana and get some rest before round 2.
This thing shouldn't come down to Derrick Rose's ankle
The short of it is that the Bulls haven't played their game yet. We haven't seen Carlos Boozer have a quality game. We haven't seen Luol Deng play up to his level. Ronnie Brewer's been completely missing in action, and Keith Bogans has shot far beneath the level he has the past 60 games or so.
Quite simply the bulls are due. I've been saying it for three games now, and credit the Pacers defense for making it tough on the Bulls, but Chicago is still due to eventually breakout of this slump of poor play.
Will we see any lineup changes?
Through three games, we didn't see any major adjustments or shifts in personnel. That was understandable, because despite playing far beneath their potential, the Bulls won all three games.
Will Thibodeau make some adjustments in scheme or personnel tonight? Don't count on it.
Though it was interesting listening to Nick Friedell discuss how Thibodeau was too stubborn to pull Bogans from the starting lineup because he was going to go with what got him there while at the same time he's drastically mixed up the minutes and linupes with the bench.
He's clearly not going with what got him there outside of the 1st/3rd quarter lineups, which happen to be the Bulls most underperforming units in the series. From the outside looking in, you wonder how coaches get this attached to something which clearly does not work while being extraordinarily willing to shake up what actually is working.
Will we see any play calling changes?
The one change I could see happening tonight is to outlet the ball quicker in the trap to Joakim Noah and having him immediately attack the basket while looking to pass if a defender slides over. The Bulls had tremendous success with that play at the end of game four.
They may also look to get Boozer involved in the same play as he has more finesse than Noah to finish those situations consistently as well.
Especially if Rose's ankle is an issue, they may look to get him involved more as a threat than as the primary option. It will be interesting to see if the Pacers continue to load up on Rose knowing he has the bad ankle or if they make him prove himself by driving to the rack first?
Can we get some shooting in here?
Outside of Kyle Korver 8 of 10 from beyond the arc, the Bulls are shooting the ball horrendously. They're 23/74 as a team, but guys not named Kyle Korver are combining for a blistering 23% from beyond the arc.
Derrick Rose (5/29 17%) is the biggest culprit. However, Bogans and Watson have combined for a total of 4/14 to hurt the team as well. The Pacers are jamming the paint, and the Bulls perimeter shooters need to start knocking down their shots to bust up the Pacers defense.
Outside of Granger, the Pacers lack talent on the perimeter offensively. The Bulls should get Korver on the floor more because they can easily hide him on defense or get some minutes for C.J. Watson along side Rose to space the floor. The Bulls could probably run a Rose, Watson, Korver, Deng, Noah lineup without getting killed defensively due to the lack of offensive options on Indiana and then completely bust the Pacers defensive scheme.
I wouldn't want to run it for a long time, but giving something like that a shot in bursts would make the Pacers rethink what they're doing on defense.
The Bulls should win this game. They'd better win this game. They need to win this game.
So far, the Pacers have come out every game with extreme urgency, an urgency the Bulls have not matched until the final few minutes. The Bulls need to match level of energy and take this one.
Derrick Rose needs the rest.
I expect this to happen, but I've expected Chicago to wake up and smell the playoffs for four straight games and it hasn't happened yet.