The Bulls played their first playoff game of the year yesterday in the much too close for comfort win over the Pacers. With the next game scheduled for tomorrow night, the coaches for both teams are going over the film to learn what mistakes were made so they can be fixed in time for Monday. That being said, some things did stick out, 10 of which are listed in this article.
It might be somewhat obvious but yesterday's game showed the importance of Kyle Korver, as his clutch shooting in the fourth really helped to turn the tides of the game. Although a defensive liability, Korver was extremely important yesterday and without him the Bulls don't win. The Bulls will probably win at least one game because of a last second three by Korver.
Derrick practically lived at the free throw line yesterday. Let's face it, no team will be able to stop Derrick Rose, not the Pacers, Lakers, Celtics or Heat. The Pacers playoff strategy was revealed yesterday as they repeatedly hacked Rose, sending him to the line.Guess they didn't get the memo he's a pretty good free throw shooter too.
The rookie center from Turkey has made it clear why he was not traded for an SG and has had a pretty solid year. That being said, it is clear that Tom Thibodeau does not trust rookies, including Omer, the slightest bit. And with a solid backup in Kurt Thomas, don't expect Asik to see meaningful minutes.
Keith Bogans starts the game and the second half, but does not do more than that as he does not play significant minutes. On the other hand, CJ Watson, the back up point guard, will receive more minutes than Bogans. Watson will get very few at point because there is this guy ahead of him named Derrick Rose. But as one of the Bulls top three point threats and because of his ability to play off ball, if Thibodeau decides to play "small" and run the court, Watson will play shooting guard. If Thibodeau continues to use this lineup, Watson will play more shooting guard than Bogans.
Noah has recently been bothered by a lingering ankle injury and it still does not seem to be 100 percent. On the other hand, I use the word fine because Noah obviously can still play with it and play at a high defensive level as he usually does. A couple more blocks throughout the playoffs, especially in the last ten seconds, would be perfect for the Bulls.
Derrick Rose had a phenomenal game scoring left and right and finished with clutch three point plays. Rose also seems to rise to the occasion and will play his best basketball these next few months. Remember, Rose almost scored 40 last game, yet he missed every single shot he took from beyond the arc. If he begins to hit those shots, continues to make his free throws and layups, Rose will score in heaps.
Let's just be straight about it: Hansbrough is a dirty player. I think I've had enough of his great celebrations, (arms raised up, chest forward), very impressed with himself attitude, especially his repeated attempts to take out Derrick Rose. In one game he tried many times. Once, he managed to bring him down to the ground, which lead to a technical for Deng standing up for Rose.
Thomas is, and was, signed as a "banger" because he is a physical player. Thomas will repeatedly take out Hansbrough and beat him to the ground if he attempts to take Rose out again. And let me be on record saying that I can't wait to see it.
Taj Gibson is a fan favorite and is a great player, but Bulls fans got a view of what would happen without Carlos Boozer on the court as he got into early foul trouble yesterday and had to sit much longer than what was planned. The Bulls desperately missed his scoring, which led to a Pacers lead for most of the game. If Boozer had played the entire time, the game wouldn't have been close.
Derrick Rose is such a phenomenal player and person. The likely MVP can score left and right, but as seen by his terrible defensive performance in which he let both point guards for the Pacers score at will, he is not yet the lock-down defender he could be.
Thibodeau has worked wonders for the Bulls and Derrick Rose in terms of defense. Derrick has made improvements, but he is not yet at the level he could be. The great thing about Derrick is that he won't let the Pacers points score at all Monday to make up for his performance on defense.
Yes, the most important thing to take away from the last game is that the Bulls will win in four. Yes, the Bulls almost lost. Yes, Derrick had to have a career night to get the win. Yet, the Bulls will still sweep the Pacers.
Even though Derrick scored plenty, he will miss all of his shots from down town. If he begins to make those in the next few games he will put the games out of reach early.
Carlos Boozer did not play for most of the game because of foul trouble, and the Bulls have his scoring the games will be won easily.
The defense last game was not as good as it could have been, and knowing Tom Thibodeau and Derrick Rose, it will be outstanding next game.
Due to all of these combined factors, the Bulls will win the series in four.