While it might be hard to lay the blame on any one person for the way the Indiana Pacers collapsed at the end of Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, it is pretty easy to start by looking at Darren Collison.
Collison had a fairly decent game, finishing the day with 17 points, six rebounds, nine assists and two steals in 34 minutes on the floor. However, he was thoroughly outplayed in every aspect by MVP candidate Derrick Rose.
Rose finished the game with 39 points, six rebounds, six assists, one steal and three blocks in 39 minutes on the court.
The Bulls ended the game on a 16-1 run over the final 3:38 of the matchup, largely due to the leadership and clutch play of Rose, who had seven points during the crucial final run.
By comparison, Collison missed at least two shots (possibly three; however, I have only been able to confirm the pair to this point) during that same stretch, and wasted four critical seconds off the clock after the Bulls grabbed an offensive rebound with 18 seconds remaining in the game.
He also only contributed two of his 17 points in the second half of the contest, seemingly cracking under the pressure of the situation, although his team was in control until the final minutes of the game.
Rose also managed to find his way to the free throw line 21 times during the game, while hitting 19 of his attempts.
His 19 made free throws were the most by any player in a playoff game since Allen Iverson made the number back in 2002 while he was still with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Comparatively, Collison only went to the line three times and managed to hit only one of his attempts.
Collison wasn't the only player involved in the Pacers massive collapse at the end of the game, as no one on Indiana's team seemed to be able to hit a shot.
While Collison is a pretty good player, I think the Pacers would have been much better off having the ball in the hands of Tyler Hansbrough or Danny Granger, both of whom seemed to have the "hot hand" during the second half of the game.
However, with Collison leading the way, the Pacers failed to score during the final 3:28 of the game.
Although the collapse was pretty surprising to watch unfold at first, finding this stat made the ending make a lot more sense: The Indiana Pacers were minus-126 in scoring during the fourth quarter during the regular season.
Indiana was outscored by 13 in the closing quarter of Game 1.
When I further investigated Collison's performance against the Bulls I learned a few more interesting notes and stats*:
In six career games against the Chicago Bulls, two with the New Orleans Hornets and four with the Pacers, Collison averages only 9.3 points and 4.0 assists in an average of 27 minutes per game.
Rose had an usage percentage (an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor) of 39.8 in Game 1. Comparatively, Collison's usage percentage was a mere 22.2.
When comparing the offensive and defensive ratings of the two players from Game 1, Rose came out ahead with ratings of 141 (offensive) and 115 (defensive) compared to the 126 (offensive) and 116 (defensive) ratings posted by Collison.
After looking at all of the numbers and having watched the game live, I still feel like a large part of the blame for Indiana's failure to close out Game 1 falls on the shoulders of Darren Collison.
Do you feel the same way?
Let me know who you think deserves the most blame and why down below in the comments sections and be sure to tune in for Game 2 on Monday.
*All stats were found or came from working with numbers provided by Basketball-Reference.com.