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

 

2011 NBA Playoff Preview – Eastern Conference First Round

Eastern Conference First Round Game 5 - Chicago 116, Indiana 89 – Bulls win series, 4-1

 

The wall of resistance finally crumbled. The show of resilience finally gave way to resignation and acceptance. The tougher-than-expected quality of a 1-versus-8 first-round playoff series, at long last, turned into the kind of coronation that most basketball pundits originally anticipated when the NBA playoff bracket emerged roughly two weeks ago.

For four straight games the eighth-seeded Indiana Pacers fought the top-seeded Chicago Bulls for an entire 48 minutes. Despite losing three of the first four games of the series, the Pacers had proven their mettle against a Bulls squad sporting the best record in the NBA. Game 5 provided a cold splash of water, a sobering dose of reality and perspective, to the upset-minded Pacers. The Bulls dominated every facet of competition on Tuesday night at the United Center and secured a spot in the second round.

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The Bulls jumped out to an 11-point first-quarter lead and never looked back. By the time the third quarter came around, the Bulls were ready to deliver the knockout punch. Indiana had closed the Bulls’ lead to 61-57 on a Tyler Hansbrough basket and foul at the 6:16 mark of the third quarter, but that turned out to be the eighth seed’s last hurrah in the entire series. Chicago responded with a blistering 14-3 run over the next three and half minutes. Derrick Rose’s three-pointer with 2:47 left gave Chicago a 75-60 lead. It was all downhill from there for Indiana, which could not sustain the effort it produced in each of the first four editions of this surprisingly competitive clash.

 

 

Six Bulls scored in double figures, led by Rose’s 25 points. Naturally, Rose showed few adverse effects from the ankle roll he endured in Saturday’s Game 4 in Indianapolis. Luol Deng had a breakout game, scoring 26 points, dishing out 7 assists, and grabbing 6 rebounds. Chicago made 14 three-pointers on the evening and forced 20 Indiana turnovers.

Danny Granger was again the top scorer for the Pacers with 20 points. Indiana shot just 39 percent, not nearly good enough to force a Game 6. The Pacers ended their year with 38 wins and 49 losses when this five-game series is added to the team’s 82-game regular-season record. Interim coach Frank Vogel did a far better job than those numbers will ever indicate. It would be hard to think that Vogel won’t be the coach of this team next season. If this is the Indiana squad that shows up for 82 games next year, it’s safe to say that a 37-45 year will probably be flipped around to 45-37, if not an even better record.

 

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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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