This is the matchup Evan Turner and the Philadelphia 76ers wanted—well, at least, Evan Turner.
If you ask the Philadelphia franchise now how they feel about playing either the Chicago Bulls or the Miami Heat, no one will answer for fear of their words coming back to bite them square in the butt.
Turner may not have meant to slight the Bulls, a team that holds the best Eastern Conference record for the second season in a row. Yet, that doesn't matter to Chicago.
They would have played like this even if he hadn't opened his mouth.
The Bulls sole consistency is their hustle. Their scoring may be off at times, and they might even lose the rebounding battle. What never changes, though, is their hustle, and the 76ers received that crushing reality this afternoon in the first matchup of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
Not to say that things may have gone smoother had the Sixers drawn the Miami Heat, but a defeat, whose box score isn't half as telling, is probably not how they were looking to kick off the series.
Philadelphia started alright. However, Chicago becomes much more than just a defensively dangerous squad when their jumpers are falling, and in Game 1, they began to.
Richard Hamilton led the Chicago Bulls for a strong fraction of the game in scoring, and a Rip-to-Luol Deng alley-oop even brought former Chicago champion Scottie Pippen to his feet.
Rose was not always on, but with the depth of the bench, he does not always have to be. Chicago achieved an above-.500 record without Rose on the floor, and it seems it still had not occurred to Philly that Chicago's bench could battle in this series.
Can the Philadelphia 76ers win against Chicago Bulls (w/o Rose)?
Let's not forget to mention the forgotten one CJ Watson.
He did not have his strongest influence over the game offensively, but it did not stop fans from realizing how vital he is to Chicago's strides in this year's playoffs. Watson plays much more traditionally than Rose does and that style has been very effective when he comes off the bench.
Rose is far flashier than Watson, but when it comes to technique and floor facilitation, Watson runs with the best of them. The reserve guard has proven that down the stretch he can be consistently injected into the game.
So, how does Philly battle back? How does Doug Collins rally his troops back in and let them know this is only Game 1 and there are six more to be played?
There may even be less if the Sixers play their cards right — or drastically wrong.
Collins needs to keep his players from making young player mistakes. This game symbolized Philadelphia's season. They started off with a hot hand, and then, they came crashing down when everyone began taking them seriously.
However, Chicago's end of game darkness may serve as the Sixers' light.
The Bulls are good enough to beat the Sixers as they were playing tonight. However, if Philadelphia can find the fire to battle back, they could give the Bulls a run for their money.
Philadelphia is talented enough to go toe-to-toe with some of the best franchises in the league, but their lack of confidence and fleeting offensive efficiency kill their dreams.
Players like Andre Iguodala and Jodie Meeks live and die by the jumper, and when it does not fall, the entire team is affected by the lack of confidence and offense from some key components of the franchise.
Iguodala has to step it up a notch or this series will end as quickly as the Miami Heat series in last year's first round. They could even use a bigger game from Evan Turner.
After all, he did ask for this.