The Chicago Bulls lead the Indiana Pacers 2-0 in their first-round series. Although the Bulls are the No. 1 seed in the East, they have been played extremely tough by the Pacers. Indiana led for the entire Game 1 until Kyle Korver hit a go ahead three-pointer with under a minute to play. The Pacers then were very competitive in Game 2.
There have been a couple factors for why the Bulls have struggled in the first two games. Part of it has to do with them and part has to do with the Pacers.
In Game 1 the Pacers got 22 points from Tyler Hansbrough, most of them in the second half. Danny Granger also played extremely well in the second half. Hansbrough was the difference though, continually hitting 15- to 17-foot jump shots. Carlos Boozer had a difficult time guarding him. The Pacers also shot 10-of-20 on three-pointers.
The Bulls kept the game close and eventually won because of Derrick Rose's 39 points. Rose also shot 21 free throws, making 19.
Game 2 saw the Bulls start off extremely unfocused. In the first few minutes the Bulls were turning over the ball and missing open jump shots. That set the tone for the rest of the game. Throughout the game the Bulls were very sloppy with the ball and had poor decision making.
The Bulls are shooting 41 percent through the first two games. They know the shots they are not hitting will eventually start to go in and they have a couple days to re-focus and tighten things up defensively.
The good thing in Game 2 that carried over from Game 1 was the outstanding play of Rose. He was aggressive, shooting 13 more free throws.
Boozer also established himself early and often. Roy Hibbert found himself in early foul trouble thanks in part to the aggressive play of Boozer and Joakim Noah. The Bulls really made an effort to get both involved early on offense.
The early involvement was a key in getting Boozer and Noah active for the rest of the game. Boozer finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds while Noah finished with 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
The Pacers have found themselves in position to win both games this series and have failed to do so mainly because they do not have a player they can go to late in games and get a basket for them. The Bulls do not have that problem. Rose has established himself as one of the best closers in the league.
The series heads to Indiana for Games 3 and 4 and the Pacers may find themselves in a bit of trouble. They played about as good as they can in the first two games and still lost. The Bulls should be a lot more focused knowing they did not play anywhere near the level they are capable of.
The Bulls should have an easy time finishing off the Pacers in four games.