Bulls vs Pacers noon on CSN / ESPN

They're here.   The playoffs are finally here, and for the first time in a long time, the first round shouldn't be a massive battle.   The Bulls aren't fighting for respectability or to show well.  They're fighting for a championship.

Step one is this game against the Indiana Pacers.

Slow down Danny Granger

The Indiana Pacers have fairly balanced scoring, but the one guy who really stands out as a threat is Danny Granger.  Luol Deng might be on the defensive first or second team this year, and he'll get to prove his worth right away in this series.   Granger can drive, he can shoot, and he keys the Pacers offense.

We'll need Luol Deng to run him off the three point line and force him into the help defense while driving.   I expect Deng to take care of business and force Granger into tough shots all series.

Deng can also do some damage to Granger with his constant movement on the offensive end, running him through screens and forcing him to work on defense.

Don't be afraid to go to Asik/Thomas if Hibbert is bullying Noah

I love Joakim Noah, but he tends to get bullied in the low post.  Noah's strengths are help defense.  He's not a great man to man post defender.   The Pacers are playing much more inside out since firing Jim O'Brien, and Roy Hibbert is becoming a greater key to the Pacers success.

The Bulls should first try and make the Pacers adjust to them by having Joakim run Hibbert off the floor, but if his wheels aren't good enough and it's not working, don't be afraid to make the switch.

Tape up the quote about how Danny Granger thinks it's easier to beat Chicago than Miami or Boston

"Boston's a different monster," he said. "They don't have
the best record in the East, but they won championships; they know how
to do it. They have four, five guys you have to worry about.

"Chicago, they go as Derrick Rose goes. If you make a concerted
effort to stop Derrick Rose, you have a better chance to beat them."

Why would you ever say that when you're about to play the Bulls even if you believe it?    Also, how could you ever believe that?   It's an insane thought.  Especially since you just blew up the Celtics a couple weeks before saying it. 

It's playoff time, bring the energy

The Bulls have frequently come out flat and then made up for it later.   It's playoff time, they need to get out of that habit and play for 48 minutes.   They might get through the Pacers without 100% effort, but they need to set the tone to be ready for the future rounds, because each series after this one can go either way.

Final thoughts

I expect a relatively easy win.   Thibs will have the Bulls ready to go.   Rose will be ready to go.   The game is at home.    The Bulls are a much better team.   If Chicago stays focused it should be able to sweep the Pacers or win in five in a worst case scenario.   I expect them to come up with a big win today to kick off the playoffs.

Comments

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  • Doug, you plan on going to any games?

  • In reply to dldjr:

    I'm going to game 3 in Indiana.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    making that drive down there huh. I guess miss you I'll make it to 2 home games though

  • In reply to dldjr:

    I have tickets to Game 3 of the 2nd round, ECF, and Finals, along with tickets to game 4 of the 2nd round. So if you are in for any of those games I could probably stop and say hi pregame or at half time.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Wonderful game break down. Totally agree about Deng & Noah being pivotal this series. Please Bulls, come out hot in the 1st quarter. I'm confident they'd still come back to win if they don't, but let's make a statement instead.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Has anybody heard about Ronnie Brewer's status? If he's still dealing with an injury, I wouldn't mind seeing Rasual Butler out there. I'm intrigued by his spot up 3 pt shot ability.

  • In reply to driversafety:

    I think that Brewer will play, he practiced with the thumb sprain, so if they didn't even hold him out of practice I can't imagine them holding him out of a game.

  • In reply to driversafety:

    we need 48 minutes of intensity, if the bulls give that,the pacers can't beat them.

  • In reply to driversafety:

    This is a game we will win. What I want to see is our players to dictate line-ups.

    Run Hibbert onto the bench so they lose their low post threat
    Bully McRoberts onto the bench so they lose their stretch 4
    Box Hansborough out so he can't get his Tommy points
    Make Collison shoot the long ball
    Make Granger drive into Jo's Taj's and Asik's blocks

    DICTATE! Then we win easy.

    We are the better team but the team that reacts to cover their weaknesses first will lose.

  • In reply to driversafety:

    Question for you Doug. WHO HAS ROY HIBBERT EVER BULLIED IN HIS COLLEGE OR PRO CAREER?

  • In reply to driversafety:

    Boozer doesn't have his beard...which makes him look a bobble-head after his shot.

  • In reply to driversafety:

    here we go, bad start.. weight of expectations?

  • In reply to driversafety:

    And they are not even taking 3 pt shots...they seem to be very nervous

  • In reply to driversafety:

    dengs sucks !

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Yeah, I would bench him for the rest of the series.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Nah, trade him ;-)

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Rose and Bulls giving up wide open 3s

  • In reply to deewaves:

    that's why i've been always criticizing Deng. He is so inconstant. He play when he wants. Right now he is letting D-Rose do all the job. He'll get on fire in the third and then disappears the fourth quarter. Or maybe he will play bad all this game and play well the next one. irregularity !

    We can't win a championship with only Rose. !!!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    he had a bad offensive half, get over it

    he also held their star, Granger, in check

    why no comments about how rose had let collison go off?

    they win and lose as a team and so far they haven't played as well as they need to, but thats why they play 2 halves.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    This is looking bad.. Hopefully Rose doesn't try to do everything by himself because that's not going to work in the long term or maybe he has to do that today.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Rose taking over is not going to work even today. He needs help from his teammates. The entire team needs to defend better, they are giving up open jumpers with regularity.

    Pacers are simply ready to play, more so then Bulls.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    No wonder Rose was asking Obama to replace Bogans.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I think Bogans should replace Obama. Maybe then the deficit would come down.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    As I said before... this will not be an easy series. Anyone that thought other wise, think again.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Eh... Even if we lose this game, I would bet my house on the Bulls winning the series. I think it's silly to discuss whether the series is easy or hard when you have absolutely no doubt in the outcome.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    My god, could Carlos Boozer do more to lose this game for Chicago than he has right now?

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Maybe this is just me being frustrated...but i seriously want carlos boozer off this team. HIS DEFENSE IS TERRIBLE. Are you kidding me with Hansbrough killing him like this. Kudos to Tyler hansbrough for doing what your supposed to do to a BUM like boozer. Now the steal. Boozer is a joke

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Thomas looks to have eaten into Taj's minutes....why? Taj is out best defender against shooting bigs like Hansbrough.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Hope Boozer doesn't come back and start forcing it since he has been sitting so much. Hard to win when you cant hit shots and your opponents arent missing many.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Late to the party after having to do kids party with my daughter. Hopefully the Bulls can get their crap together.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Deng with the three, thought the Pacers might tighten up, but Granger knocked down a tough shot then Luol Deng comes in and draws a technical.

    Luol firing up the crowd now. This is getting more intense than you'd expect from a Bulls / Pacers playoff game.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    That was a pretty weak tech on Deng for a pretty pansy shove there too. Pacers keep knocking down shots.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Thibs has to put Taj instead of Boozer. Boozer is not able to handle the screens and reach out to Hansborough. Man....That Jim O'Brien must have been really bad not to play him.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Hansbrough knocking down consecutive jumpers, and the Bulls margin of error for winning this game is amazingly slim at this point.

    Carlos Boozer needs to stop just standing there and giving Hansbrough the jumper. Second game in row Hansbrough has destroyed the Bulls with mid range jumpers.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Boozer is literally getting destroyed..

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Bulls are showing why no one has no respect for them. Not looking good. I'm sorry but Boozer is not the answer.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    This gets back to my previous theory from a month back, at the end of a game, I'd rather have Gibson play than Boozer.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    COMPLETELY AGREE

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Formula 1 (the MVP) .... Well I'm out of superlatives for the man, what else can you say that hasn't already be said?

    Bulls need to tighten up on D and balance their offense and I believe Thibs will make it so.

    It was nice to see Lou and Korver hit some big shots in the second half, but Boozer's performance was certainly disappointing - especially considering his advantage in the "experience" department.

    Also, have to give the Pacers credit for their gutty effort, but the end result HAS to be demoralizing. As the analysts mentioned, their head coach came up with a good game plan, but in the end the MVP was just... TOO GOOD.

  • In reply to Shady:

    The advantage with the Bulls is if even if someone has a bad game (e.g. Boozer), there have other players who will step up, such as Lu and Korver, as you said.

    The Pacers pretty much got their "A-game" from everyone, and they STILL lost. They won't be able to sustain that level of play, and as the series progresses, the Pacers' play and confidence will fade.

  • In reply to Shady:

    PREDICTIONS:

    Game 2: Bulls will get better play and production from those not name DRose (e.g. Boozer, Watson), perhaps in the 1st half, and will win by at least double digits.

    Game 3: Pacers are re-energized with a return to IN, and this game will determine if the series goes 4 or 5. If the Bulls can weather the storm in a tight, hard-fought game, then it's time to bring out the brooms. I'll give the Pacers the benefit of the doubt, though, and they'll pull off a win.

    Game 4: Thibs and DRose won't let them lose this game. Big numbers will come from a bench player (e.g. Korver, Gibson), and DRose will make the plays to crush the Pacers' confidence.

    Game 5: Last desperate attempt by the Pacers to make it a series. The 1st half will tell the tale of how the game goes, either close or a blowout. Either way, it's DRose to the rescue again when it's crunch time, and Lu, Noah, Boozer, or Korver play Robin to his Batman. No celebration on the home court, just a business-like approach as they immediately start to think about preparing for round 2.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Wow great pass by Rose to Noah for the dunk. The Bulls score six point in about 45 seconds with a free throw coming to close a 10 point lead down to four, possibly three and put themselves right back in this game.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    You are right Doug Taj needs to be in for Boozer.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Please keep boozer on the bench for this last push.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Urgh, that foul hurts, Hibbert would have gotten the shot off.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    OH MY that was SICK!!!! DROSE AND1!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    lead down to 2. Pacers have responded when the Bulls have made big shots, but Collison misses there, and Derrick Rose comes back and MVPS THEIR ASS!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    omg

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Derrick Rose just went MVP on them.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    WOW

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    OOOOH YEAHHHHH !!!!!!!!!! THE MVP IS IN THE PLACE !!!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    This Pacer team can not be taken lightly, that's all needs to be said, not a good win but the Bulls up 1-0...

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Wow ... that was heart-stopping ... but amazing.
    Not the way I would have wanted it, but this is the playoffs after all.
    Good win Bulls ...
    Let's make the next one a little easier please! :-)

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    Agreed. I expect a more dominant performance Monday.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    For the "experts" that still don't get it, THAT is why Derrick Rose is your MVP! He was just unbelievable down the stretch.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    AMAZING

    The perfect start to the playoofs, just what we needed, and we got the win. Any doubts about Rose for MVP now haters (Skip Bayless, looking at you)?

    Totally has to demoralize the Pacers, stole their hearts, I see a sweep now. If you're Vogel, what do you tell your team? (Besides bitching about all the foul calls like he has already begun.)

    Go Bulls!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Agreed. I see a sweep or 5 games at worst now.

    Pacers gave it everything they had this game but couldn't get it done. It'll totally deflate their confidence and just watch what happens when they go down 2-0.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    Tough gritty game. Listen, ANY win is a good win.

    Hopefully they got the jitters out, and I expect them to play much better Monday. Some of the guys seemed tight (Boozer and Watson especially), but they should be better as the playoffs progress.

    Oh, and the Heat are down big to the Sixers in the 1st. Don't think that higher seeds can't struggle at times. Do you really think the Heat or the Bulls are going to lose these opening series? Get real.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    I agree. It is always the first game which gives home teams all kinds of problems. Boozer looked too tight on offense but I think he was assuming that Hansborough will not make those jumpers and cannot go too close to him as he will take him off the dribble. That is the issue with Boozer's defense.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    DERRICK ROSE WINS. FATaLITY!

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    Wow. The bulls need to play boozer with bench more often. We might be able to lessen's deng's minutes with bench. More importantly, we could see taj play with noah. Boozer isn't very inefficient, and his defense is just terrible. Wow. On defense, he's just bad, BAD. If we want to get past this pacers team w/o a bruised and broken derrick rose, we need to limit our exposure of defense(boozer) and better our offense(bogans)

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Always nice when you can win a wake-up call game. Nice to see someone from Utah step up... way to go Korver.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Yes, this is a cold-water wakeup.

    It's probably a good thing, and they'll play better next game.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Let me be real for a second. Bulls will win the series... But carlos boozer is KILLING us. Absolutely killing us, Like serioulsy i know we've mentioned this before but how is he so bad on D?? Forget the numbers..forget the stats. I dont care about those. Why cant he put a fuc#%^$ hand up on anyone? What happens next round when brandon Bass not only throws his body into him but knocks down jumpers?? Or the next round when Bosh knocks down jumpers?? All i need for this clown to do is play defense for a month and a half help us get a Championship and get the HELL out of here.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    I'm gonna have to start referring to D-Rose as Mola Ram after he ripped out the Pacers' heart like it was the Temple of Doom.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    No good for the old ticker but if thats what the playoffs are going to be like...................

  • In reply to deewaves:

    someone needs to remind the Bulls...IT'S GAME ONE OF THE PLAYOFFS... PLAY LIKE IT!!!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    WOW! check out jalen rose's suit. he's doing his best impression of an olive green 'jack from the nightmare before christmas'.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    This year's Bulls remind me of last year's Cavs.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Besides Rose, everyone else on the Bulls look uncomfortable and they are letting the Pacers get their hands on too many rebounds and too many wide open shots for the Pacers. Bulls need to focus more on defense and limit the Pacers on both ends of the floor... one shot, keep them off the offensive and defensive boards.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    i'm disapointed. Rose need help !

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Collison is playing very well....and we can't make open shots.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    So eh, why is kurt thomas playing instead of taj gibson?

  • In reply to driversafety:

    Pacer's came to play - Collison and Hibbert. Bulls sluggish to start. Lots of time left.
    That was a cheap flop for Boozer's 2nd foul.
    Now its the Bench Mob's turn.

  • In reply to driversafety:

    Korver needs to just take his shot. Rose is not going to get easy shots. Foster is the most dangerous guy...he is just looking to hurt.

  • I guess Thibs wants to use Noah on the offensive end. Is that the reason he is working him out separately yesterday?

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I don't think they'll use Noah in the post much. I think Thibs was just trying to help build Noah's confidence up.

  • Bulls 101, Pacers 84.

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