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NBA Playoffs: Bulls will improve in Game 2, can Pacers?

Apr 18, 2011, 8:45 PM EST

Bulls' Rose passes the ball around Pacers' Hibbert during the first half of Game 1 of their NBA Eastern Conference first round playoff basketball game in Chicago Reuters

The Indiana Pacers came out of Game 1 — where they led until the final minute and almost pulled the upset — thinking that they can play with the Chicago Bulls.

But can they? The Bulls can play much better than they did in game one — look for them to focus on tightening the pick-and-roll defense (especially when Tyler Hansbrough is setting the pick) and for Derrick Rose to be in attack mode early.

The Bulls took the Pacers best shot — literally, the Pacers shot lights out all game (10-of-17 from three, for example) and put up 113.7 points per 100 possessions, 13 more than the Bulls gave up on average — and one has to wonder if the Pacers can play any better. And if that was their best and they lost, what hope do they have?

The Pacers hinted they are going to start aggressively doing what the Bulls will see from here on out in the playoffs — trapping and doubling Derrick Rose to get the ball out of his hands.

We’ll see what kind of success they have — it’s easier said than done to trap Rose. But if they do the Bulls are going to need other players to step up in a way they did not in Game 1. Carlos Boozer had a quiet 12 points and he has to step up, as does Luol Deng who had a couple big baskets late but not much else. The Bulls bench also needs to contribute more.

Put simply, the Derrick Rose show is one of the best going in the NBA, but ask Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant — or just about anyone else — if you can do it all on your own or if you need a real team effort.

Another key will be how this game is called — both teams want to be physical on defense, but Rose’s ability to attack and draw contact and get to the line could swing this game. Like it did the first one, where Rose alone got to the line more than the entire Pacers team.

The Bulls are going to defend hard

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