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One Down, Three to Go

April 27, 2011

Definitely not going to miss the sight of this (Photo credit: The State)

The Bulls finally put away those pesky Pacers, with a game that finally displayed some of their wonderful potential.  Some parting thoughts as we put this series to bed:

Growing pains

  • The Bulls were a little nervous.  Hopefully they’ve shaken the tightness that hounded them for the first four games.  Not sure if it was the pressure of being the #1 seed but last night, the Bulls finally looked good on both ends.  The passing was crisper, the defensive close-outs were sharper, and the team put away the Pacers early in the game.
  • They really needed to lose game 4.  I’ll never really be glad for a Bulls loss but they were on a 12-game winning streak heading into game 4.  I think they’re still getting used to the fact that you can’t “get by” during the playoffs.  It’s ok though – better to lose a relatively inconsequential game 4 during the first round than in a latter round.  The Bulls have yet to lose more than 2 games in a row all year long so the ability of a loss to snap them back into focus will help them rebound after future losses.
  • Thibs is still a rookie coach.  Yes, he’s done a phenomenal job this year but he’s not perfect.  He fiddled with the lineups throughout the first four games but finally figured out that his bench could buy some time for the starters.  Going back to Taj Gibson was a smart move, as it gave the Pacers some match-up problems because they couldn’t bang under the basket.  Trust me, in the grand scheme of things, I’ll take this over Vinny any day.

Physical play

  •  “Not one bone on him [JoNo] that’s dirty”  [Luol Deng at last night’s post-game press conference] Gee Danny Granger, that medicine tastes kind of bitter, doesn’t it?  Color me amused that Danny complained about JoNo’s “cowardly” sharp and stray elbows – he should know by now that while D.Rose is the undisputed leader of this team, he’s also the little brother.  If you pick on the little brother, and the Pacers did that in a big way all series long, big brother is going to let you know that he noticed.  Granger should be glad that Kurt Thomas was a DNP – an errant elbow or a hard screen from Big Sexy would’ve hurt a lot more.
  • Omer Asik kind of gets mauled under the basket.  Playing time for Omer Asik (yay!) – now can we get the man a foul call?  Refs, I understand that the man looks like he should be in a cartoon instead of a back-up center for the Chicago Bulls.  That doesn’t mean that you should swallow your whistle when his defender wraps his arm around him in a bear hug.  Good freakin’ grief.  Last night, there were two REALLY obvious fouls, so obvious that I could see them through my grainy computer feed.  However, this isn’t a new trend – sometimes Omer absolutely gets pounded when taking a shot or grabbing a rebound. If Thibs is planning on using him ahead of Kurt Thomas, especially if we face Orlando in the next round, this is something to keep an eye on.  Omer has learned how to foul on the defensive end but gets absolutely no love on the offensive end.  (Then again, hopefully he will also work on his free throw percentage in the off season – barely making half of your free throws = not so helpful)
  • Teams’ defense will only get tougher on D.Rose.  Even to the casual basketball viewer, it’s obvious that D.Rose draws a lot of attention from the opposing team’s defenders.    Since the Pacers demonstrated that you could put a bigger wing defender on him and force him into some turnovers, you can bet that future opponents will continue to try and trap him at half court or smother him as he barrels down the lane.  Which leads me to…

Things to be mildly concerned about

  • Boozer.  Yeah, not a great series for Boozer.  He’s getting all the Bulls hate-mail right now so I won’t add much here except to say that there’s room for improvement, as the Bulls need him to be mildly useful to take some of the pressure off of D.Rose.
  • Injuries. Everyone’s a little banged up right now, which is why some rest couldn’t have come at a better time.  Let’s cross our fingers that no one pulls an Amar’e and injures themselves in practice/warmups.  On the plus side, JoNo looks like he has some hop back in his legs.
  • D.Rose shooting too many 3s.   Aside from his 3rd-quarter daggers last night, D.Rose’s 3-point % was unspectacular, if not outright miserable.  Hopefully the time off will help him get his legs under him but there’s no reason why he needs to be shooting more than 3-5 attempts per game.  It makes it too easy for the other team to grab a long rebound and push the ball up the court for a quick basket.

Despite all this….this is D.Rose’s first playoff series win so while there’s room for improvement, I’m very excited that I’ll get a chance to use those second round tickets!

-Jocelyn

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