Quantcast 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs: Round One - Chicago vs Indiana

 

2011 NBA Playoff Preview – Eastern Conference First Round

Eastern Conference First Round Game 1 - Chicago 104, Indiana 99 – Bulls lead series, 1-0

 

For 46 minutes of action on Saturday afternoon at the United Center in Chicago, it looked as if the eighth-seeded Indian Pacers just might escape with a surprising Game 1 upset of the top-seeded Chicago Bulls. Then, as if a 32-point performance up to that point wasn’t enough to solidify his place at the top of the NBA MVP discussion, Derrick Rose took over.

Chicago’s brilliant guard scored seven points in the final two minutes and found teammate Kyle Korver alone for the go-ahead three-pointer with 48 seconds left to give the Bulls a pulse-pounding come-from-behind victory. The Bulls, who trailed by 10 points with 3:38 left in regulation, rattled off 16 of the next 17 points to take a 1-0 series lead and, in effect, win the series. Let’s be honest: If Indiana, a 37-45 team during the regular season, had been able to win on Saturday, the complexion of the playoffs would have changed dramatically. The Bulls’ aura of confidence and swagger would have been dented, and panic would have entered the Chicago locker room. However, the Bulls’ ability to come back and erase what was a horrible game on their part will almost certainly ensure that no letdowns will occur in the next few games of this series. Indiana failed to beat Chicago on the Bulls’ worst day, and that means the chances of this series being appreciably competitive have likely gone out the window.

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Indiana never trailed for 47 minutes and 12 seconds in front of a hostile Chicago crowd. Unfortunately for the young Pacers, pro basketball is a 48-minute competition. Danny Granger had 8 fourth quarter points for the Pacers and Tyler Hansbrough had seven straight points in the fourth quarter to give Indiana a double-digit lead of 98-88 with 3:29 left. Hansbrough’s complete domination of Chicago forward Carlos Boozer served notice that the Bulls might not be the complete team they thought they were, but in the final three and a half minutes of regulation, Rose reminded the NBA why the Bulls will be a force to be reckoned with: Chicago has Rose on its roster, and no one else does.

 

 

 

The likely MVP finished with 39 points. More impressive than his gaudy box score was the ease with which the third-year pro from Memphis was able to create at the offensive end of the floor. Teammates Luol Deng and Joakim Noah each had double-doubles, largely because of Rose’s ability to draw multiple defenders and make timely passes in traffic. While Indiana failed to hit a single field goal down the stretch, Rose consistently created high-quality looks for the Bulls, often hitting them himself. The result was a 16-1 Chicago surge, as a 10-point deficit – and a lot of stress – turned into the exhilaration of a five-point escape job.

It’s all because Derrick Rose was able to mask the deficiencies of Carlos Boozer and all the other Bulls who played far below their capabilities. Chicago’s ability to pull out this victory will make it nearly impossible for the Pacers to climb the mountain that’s in front of them.

 

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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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