On paper, the Chicago Bulls won easily 4-1 versus the Indiana Pacers in the first round of this year’s playoffs. For those who watched the series, it was anything but easy. Four of the five games came down to the final minutes of the game, and the Bulls had to rely on MVPDerrick Rose to save the day.
In their first three games, the Bulls won by an average of 5.0 PPG against a team that won 25 fewer games than them. Yes, the Pacers were playing better basketball under coach Frank Vogel, but they were still just two games above .500 with Vogel at the helm.
Only in the final game of the series did the Bulls show their true colors by controlling the entire game. This 27 point win was just what the Bulls needed heading into the next round versus the Atlanta Hawks.
The Bulls showed good and bad versus the Pacers, but the Pacers showed the NBA a way to beat the Chicago Bulls. Get the ball out of Derrick Rose’s hands, and make other players beat you.
Luol Deng showed his veteran skills, averaging 18.6 PPG and making clutch baskets throughout the series, but more Bulls will need to step up, as it is evident that Rose has just seen the beginning of the double teams.
If the Bulls want a chance to take home the Larry O’Brien trophy, they will have to have consistent play from their stars and improve in a few areas.