What's this?! On a hallowed strip of paint inside the fortress known to all Chicago citizens as United Center, home of our heroes, the Chicago Bulls, villainy looms. A gleaming blue, 7'2 form hovers ominously near 'the rim of sanctity.' It is none other then Roy Hibbert, towering member of the dread Blue Marauders(heretofore known as the Indiana Pacers).
Two steps behind, young Derrick Rose looks an unassuming observer as the biggest of the nefarious blue blackguards gathers himself up for a fiendish baseline assaut on the gleaming rim, our heroes turf. But, when trouble calls, the mild mannered south side kid Rose is able to transform into.. the Red Rocket! Out of knowhere the red and white uniformed wonderboy soars above the rim stratosphere to blast the 7'2 dunking menace Hibbert out of the sky toppling him to the earthy hardwood like a heap of bricks. And with him the Indiana Marauder's(Pacers) forlorn attempts to block the playoff path of the No.1 seed Chicago Bulls
Melodramatic as it sounds, seeing their leader, and yes, our hero, crashing down Mt. Hibbert most certainly gave the Bulls a feeling of invincibility and domination over their opponents much like the three 3-pointers Rose rained down just when it looked as if Indiana was going to worm their way back into the game. But the Red Rocket, Derrick Rose's superhuman leap and stuff of a 7'2 big man and deadly three point missle barrage, determined it was not to be.
Band of Brothers
You gotta love the comraderie and character of this team. There they were on the TNT national stage, fresh from the demolishment of a too often punkish foe, Rose and Noah tucked into the creases of Big Dad(Sexy) Kurt Thomas. Pointing fingers first Noah and then Rose laughter and smiles growing apparently trying to decide who was more responsible for the swatting of that devlish gnat known as the Indiana Pacers with a bemused Thomas looking down at his guys like any proud old vet/dad(of his team)., All fingers ended up pointing towards a sheepish Bogans. But don't let his at times social timidity(interviews etc.) fool you. Bogans is Thibodeau's guy not because of some biased favoritism(OK maybe a little), but moreso for a tough guy who brings character and some swag to an often to unassuming Bulls squad.
Maybe it was that unassuming nature that led the Pacers to think they could bully the Bulls right out of the playoffs. Fat chance with the likes of Rose, Noah, and yes Bogans around. Though a non-factor at times(and entire games) Keith has hit threes more times then not when fired/called upon. As in this critical contest where Bogans could have been the MVP of this game if not for the fact that he plays beside the MVP of all MVP's in this league, Derrick Rose. The much maligned Bogans was not just streaky, but hit daggers throughout the decisive contest for 15 big points against a thorn in the side of the Bulls ready to be removed. The 6'5 former Kentucky standout also had two steals in a spirited defensive effort that helped set the agressive tone. But what stood out clearly was a sharpshooting assault that drove home one three point nail after another into what would be the Pacers coffin.
In their final game of the season, after all the huffing and puffing, all that was left of the big bad wolf(Danny Granger and a bunch of nobodies) was a flustered McRoberts throwing elbows all the way to the sidelines while the mentally superior player and person Joakim Noah laughed him out of existence, and away to the losers lockeroom went his sorry, flailing dandelion yellow uni'd butt. All with Jo's proud former professional soccer playing grandfather watching in admiration of his unflatering kindred. No wonder you have three generations of professionals. Guys who can just plain put the B.S. aside, and maintain the focus to get their jobs done against elite competition in the heat of battle.
Delusions of Grandeur
Joining McRobert's frustrated frenzy after the game was Granger who had gone batty with the delusion that he along with Hansbrough, Foster, and Co. aka Rent A Goon could really take down a potential contender like the Bulls. And so it was Granger excusing all their rough play as exceptable or 'part of the game' while Joakim's ability to defend himself virtuously and rise above it laughing in the end was to much for Danny and the Cricketts not to chirp madly about enviously and impotently after the fact, as bullies and their associates usually find themselves doing.
But the Bulls aren't fooling themselves either into thinking the kind of overall effort in this series is going to take them where they want to go. Boozer will have to find a way to overcome his accutely painful (non)performances along with his sudden bout of turf toe if the Bulls are to advance to the ECF, and possibly beyond. They simply have to have an instant offense down low option to take pressure off of the offense when the system struggles as it did against a well game planned Pacers. Only difference being against better competition failure to overcome those prolonged struggles will spell doom.
Though Vogel made nice adjustments in this series they must have included the size of his head as he thought he could 'proclaim' his way to winning the series. Understandable to a certain extent to embolden his players and feed on the uncertainty of a tottering enemy, but after a point it was just silly and bush. As were the Pacers who were hardly of the Bulls ilk, and despite their game effort, surely a new team's 62 win, first playoff together jitters maybe as much as anything stifled them. They certainly didn't play up their capabilities in this scrum.
What lies ahead? Joakim's offensiveexpanding hopefully. November Jo's game with the driving bankers/hooks, spins, and reemerging tornado jumper has not fully re-surfaced by any means. His game will have to raise another notch offensively especially if Booz continues to struggle. Likewise the Bulls red and white (Uni)bomber Kyle Korver. And is it just me, or was Omer Asik becoming a significant/very productive contributor before dissapearing in Kurt Thomas' wake? He was even starting to take advantage of straight line drives/openings to the basket. Though it looks like his free throws have gone south again. But something tells me the Turkish Hammer is going to have to get some minutes/contribute for us to succeed down the road, which the minutes part is not hard to do as Jo guards PF's like Boah anyhow leaving most center stiffs for Boozer. And let's not forget C.J. To me, he is just too valuable as a pressure release(including playing with Derrick) with his points and assist outbursts not be seeing more then 9 minutes per game.
Granted if it's Orlando in Chapter(Round) II, Big Sexy is going to see some time against Howard, but so will Omer if we are going to play Dwight one on one so as not to get broken down with double teaming which is what the Magic/Van Gundy want. Playing Physically/fouling will require multiple covers/defenders/bodies. If it's Atlanta I have a hunch Jamal Crawford will be revenge bombing his old team. One or more of the Bulls guards including Bogans, Brewer, and even Derrick will have to be ready. And certainly the offense as a unit will have to upgrade in a major way from the .415 we shot in Round 1.