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NBA Playoffs: Pacers manage to win a game as Rose struggles

Apr 23, 2011, 6:32 PM EDT

Chicago Bulls v Indiana Pacers - Game Four Getty Images

It wasn’t easy, but the Indiana Pacers finally managed to beat the Bulls after losing three consecutive heart-breakers. While the Pacers controlled the game most of the way, they did manage to make things interesting by allowing the Bulls to end the game on a 22-11 run, and the Bulls were one Carlos Boozer three-pointer away from tying the game with two seconds to go.

Still, the Pacers were able to hold on, and here’s the bad news for Bulls fans: The Pacers have defended Derrick Rose and the Bulls better in each game of the series than they did in the one before it.

Game 1: Rose 39 points on 10-23 shooting, Bulls score 104 poitnts

Game 2: Rose 36 points on 11-25 shooting, Bulls score 96 points

Game 3: Rose 23 points on 4-18 shooting, Bulls score 88 points

Game 4: Rose 15 points on 6-22 shooting, Bulls score 84 points

While the sprained ankle Rose suffered near the end of the first quarter was likely responsible for much of his ineffectiveness on Saturday, the fact is that the Pacers have defended Rose well ever since game one, and the Bulls’ other options have not stepped up.

Carlos Boozer was more aggressive in Game 3, but he still rushed most of his shots in the paint and failed to work effectively in the post, and ended up shooting 6-15. Luol Deng‘s normally reliable jumper abandoned him, and he only made one of his six shots from outside the paint. Joakim Noah was fantastic on both ends of the floor, but he doesn’t get his points by being a primary offensive option. Chicago’s vaunted bench was outscored 17-30 by the Pacer subs, and C.J. Watson, Omer Asik, and Ronnie Brewer barely saw the court. Even though the Pacers only shot 39% in Game 3, they did enough to overcome the Bulls’ anemic offensive effort.

Assuming the Bulls will win one of the next three games and advance to the second round, the question that will define their playoff success is whether other teams will be able to defend Derrick Rose as well as the Pacers have. The Pacers have done a wonderful job on Rose, but not every team can trap and recover and mix up their coverages as well as the Pacers have; more importantly, not every team has a defensive player with Paul George‘s combination of size, speed, and defensive instincts. And while credit is due to the Pacers for keeping Rose out of the paint for the most part, Rose’s improved jump shot has completely abandoned him in the playoffs — over the course of the series, Rose is only 13-50 on shots outside of the paint.

The Pacers have shown that if Rose is slowed down successfully, the Bulls don’t have the offensive firepower to compensate, and that should be a concern for the Bulls going forward. Barring a miracle, the Bulls won’t lose this series, and every matchup in the playoffs is different. But the Pacers seem to have drawn up a blueprint for how to beat the team that had the NBA’s best record in the regular season.

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  1. chitownbulls - Apr 23, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    One thing that is not showing up in the stat line is that the Bulls have been shooting HORRIBLY in the 1st Quarter of each game… This is before Indiana’s ball pressure… Derrick was missing wide open shots, they weren’t even coming out to defend him, so I don’t know if I give them ALL the credit for the poor shooting. I will say that they have caused t/o’s and have been making a living off fastbreak points. They also benefitted from the Refs allowing them to play some pretty physical ball in Indiana. The Bulls, not so much. I couldn’t believe they called a reach in on Noah and an offensive on Booz in the post after allowing Indy to throw our bigs around down low on the other end. McRoberts also got away with elbowing Derrick after the dunk he made a back cut for. I don’t know what the refs are looking at, but McRoberts, Foster and Dahntay Jones are some pretty dirty players in my opinion. I have respect for Granger, Collison, Hibbert and Hansbrough, at least they seem like they want to play basketball.

  2. footballcoach17 - Apr 23, 2011 at 11:12 PM

    See what happens when the refs call the game fair. Period. NBA refs make the NBA so unbearable to watch. Pacers are better team if they didn’t have to play 6 or 7 player/refs on the court.

    • philtration - Apr 24, 2011 at 12:25 AM

      Text book delusional comment.

  3. chitownbulls - Apr 24, 2011 at 12:27 AM

    They got all of the calls, so I don’t see how they were not doing well. Let ’em play on one end and then call touch fouls on the big bad 1 seed team… Dahntay and McRoberts are still some bums. Here is a link to a slo mo of that bum McRoberts elbowing Derrick in the face after his slam. I’m so sick of them, they are not good enough to step on our floor. If they are such a better team, then why do they have to issue cheap shots in order to gain some sort of perceived advantage?

    • gilgameth - Apr 24, 2011 at 2:04 PM

      Speaking of delusional…I say you Bulls fans have that “best record in the league” myopia working here. First off, they were playing out of the central, so with the “talent” on that roster they already started with a 10 game lead on every other team in the conference. YOUR TEAM IS BEING OUTPLAYED BY A TEAM WITH THAT FINISHED SEVEN GAMES UNDER .500! The Pacers have had the lead at least 75% of the time in the series, and if they weren’t so gutless, the series would be tied (at least!) As for calls going the wrong way, I am seeing “no calls” pretty equally distributed, as refs are seeing some super sloppy basketball being played by both teams so they have to swallow the whistle otherwise the game would last for four hours. And as for dirty play, you must only watch highlights of playoff games for the last 30 years, because this is pretty tame. Hell, even Noah admitted that hard fouls are about all those “dirty” players can commit as they are in no way as athletic as the posers with the red jerseys.

      • philtration - Apr 24, 2011 at 9:28 PM

        The lead at least 75% of the time?
        How great is it to lead in a game and lose
        Can we just give the series to the Pacers for having a lead?

        Sounds like you have a fine collection of little league trophies for finishing in 8th place all polished and sitting in your bedroom dresser.

  4. chitownbulls - Apr 24, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    Oh whatever… So what they are being outplayed. At least we didn’t drop our home opener like both the Lakers and the Spurs did, and they are in the mighty, mighty West Conference. Memphis is leading the Spurs 2-1, Lakers are 2-1, Boston only swept because the Knicks play zero defense and the self annointed new “Beasts of the East” Miami Heat just got pushed to a game 5. So the Bulls leading this series 3-1 is nothing out of the ordinary, we are right up there with everyone else. Offensive production has been a problem this whole season for the Bulls, so these types of games from them should surprise no one. Their FG% is under what they shot in the regular so they are playing below average, while the Pacers are playing (with the help of the refs) above average. So what? You have been intoxicated by the media’s predictions for the Bulls to get to the Finals, but I am a reasonable fan who just wants them to accomplish more than what they did last season, get out of the first round and be competitive in the second. Its the Playoffs and anything can happen.

    As far as watching bball, I am not new to watching it, just calling out dirty play when I see it. Those fouls from Foster should have been called flagrant one’s at the TIME THEY WERE HANDED OUT. We would have gotten 2 FT’s and could have kept the ball. McRoberts is a bum and a dirty player and so is Dahntay Jones. They have reputations for this already so save the whole “pretty tame” tagline, I don’t care. I don’t want to see D. Rose taken out because the bums in the blue and yellow are not ready to go fishing yet.

  5. gilgameth - Apr 25, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    I guess only Bulls fans read this board. You don’t have to be a fan of either team to realize that if the Pacers weren’t settling for contested jumpers with a six to ten point lead at the end of games, they would not be just one game from elimination and might even have the series lead. Luol Deng should be averaging 20 points a game, as Danny Granger might as well sit on his donkey at the baseline and let them play 4 on 5 because his defense does not exist. Good teams, not great, realize that and exploit it and sweep teams like the Pacers out of the playoffs. As near as I can tell, Foster/McRoberts/Jones/Hansborough are the only players on the team that act like they don’t want to go on vacation yet. Obviously it’s working, as that is all you homers talk about with their “dirty” play. (Jones makes stupid fouls, but I wouldn’t consider that dirty) Good physical play is what it is called, and the Bulls are not responding well to it. Despite all that, they are still up 3-1, but it’s not their fault as the Pacers will find a way to implode at the end of games. That and for some reason they start guarding Rose around the three point line. Dood is 5 for 29 from back there! MVP! CAN’T HIT THREES! That’s why the Pacers are not going to win, and it won’t have a lot to do with the Bulls. You don’t think the next team they play won’t be watching tape of your team getting pushed around by the Pacers? The Pacers?!!??

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