Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bulls Destroy the Pacers, Win Series 4-1!

By Sean Mackey
The Bulls were able to win their first playoff series since 2007 on Tuesday night, defeating the Indiana Pacers 116-89. Derrick Rose shook off a sprained ankle to score 25 points. Luol Deng had a fantastic game with 24 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and 1 block. Danny Granger lead the Pacers with 20 points. With this win, the Bulls win the series 4-1 and advance to the 2nd round to take on the winner of the Atlanta Hawks/Orlando Magic series.

First of all, it was great to see the Bulls shake off the funk they were in and dominate an average NBA squad like they've done all season. The Pacers definitely turned it up and were just a few points away from having a 3-0 advantage but the Bulls have the NBA's best closer in Derrick Rose right now. I definitely think the Pacers are back but I don't think they have a shot of luring any big time free agents anytime soon. The only way they're going to improve that team is by the draft or some savvy trades. Frank Vogel was caught boasting that they're an "attractive" franchise but they're not.
Anyways, last night's game was pretty awesome. The Bulls lead the entire game and started the game off with a 10-2 lead. The Pacers tried to get back in the game several times during the 2nd and 3rd quarters cutting it to a 5 point lead. By the time the Bulls came out of halftime they pretty much decided they needed this series to be over so they could get some rest.
With the exception of Carlos Boozer, the Bulls frontline was absolutely abusing the Pacers. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson did a great job of contesting almost everything. It should be noted that this was the first game of the series in which Kurt Thomas didn't play. In return, the Bulls put Omer Asik in the rotation with great success. The real story of the game was the defense of Joakim Noah. Noah was simply outgritting the Pacers on rebounds and getting into their heads. After a swift elbow (behind the ref's back) to Josh McRoberts throat, McRoberts retaliated and got caught. The act was considered a flagrant 2 and McRoberts was thrown out of the game. On a play several minutes later, Derrick Rose flew through the air to block a Roy Hibbert dunk and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the game. After a few three pointers made by Rose, the lead was pushing 20.

By the beginning of the 4th quarter, Rose was hit with his 5th foul and he was removed from the game. The bench mob picked up the slack and CJ Watson & Kyle Korver continued to bury the Pacers with 3 pointers the rest of the evening. After the game, Danny Granger complained that Noah was a dirty player but don't try to tell me that Jeff Foster wasn't playing the role of the dirty enforcer on his team. Suck it up man! With the exception of the Cavs, Granger would be a 2nd scoring option on any other NBA team. Danny Granger is a second rate star, he's essentially a Mo Williams who plays SF.

While getting the win was awesome and completely satisfying for those Bulls fans who made the long drive last Saturday only to see the Bulls lose (I was one of them), you have to be worried about Carlos Boozer. His game was completely off the entire series and for a guy who's ALWAYS performed at a super high level during the playoffs, he was less than impressive against the Pacers. Hopefully with 6 days of rest, the Bulls can turn their attention to resting and practicing, while thinking of a way to get Boozer more involved.

Game 1 of the Bulls second round series against the Atlanta Hawks or the Orlando Magic tips off at 8:00 p.m. Monday night. Go Bulls!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bulls Post 61st Win of the Season, Defeat the Knicks 103-90!

By Sean Mackey

The Bulls posted their 61st win of the season Tuesday night in front of a nationally televised audience, defeating the New York Knicks 103-90. The Knicks were previously the only team the Bulls hadn't defeated at least once in the regular season.
Derrick Rose lead the way, solidifying his MVP campaign by scoring 26 points including a reverse slam and a breathtaking alley oop off a lob from Ronnie Brewer. Carlos Boozer had a monster double-double with 10 points and 22 rebounds with Amar'e Stoudemire sitting this game out. Luol Deng was also solid in posting his own double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony led the way for the Knicks with 21 points. Bill Walker came of the bench to add 18 as well.

This was a great win for the Bulls against a team they couldn't seem to get a victory against earlier in the year. Of course, half of the Knicks roster from the first two meetings of these teams are now playing for the Denver Nuggets. It's amazing how much the Knicks organization had to give up for Carmelo Anthony who just seems disinterested in any game he plays. Don't get me wrong, he's a great clutch scorer (or scorer in general) but they gave up a lot of solid players to get him and he hasn't won a damn thing since college.
Not to get overly worried or anything but Joakim Noah and Ronnie Brewer left last night's game with injuries. Brewer injured his thumb while scrambling for a ball. I imagine he'll be okay but Noah's a different story. Joakim re-tweaked his ankle going for a rebound and came out of the game late in the 4th quarter. There was no medical attention given to Noah so hopefully he won't have any swelling today. I think it's likely he'll miss tonight's final game of the season against the New Jersey Nets. The Bulls don't need to chance his health going into what will probably be a scrappy playoff series against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

With the win against the Knicks last night, the Bulls are now tied for the best record in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs (who lost to the Lakers last night by resting their starters). If the Spurs and Bulls win tonight and they happen to meet in the NBA Finals, home court advantage will be determined by a random draw. However, I don't think the Spurs will make it to the Finals this year and for television ratings sake, I doubt the NBA wants them there. With a win tonight against the New Jersey Nets, the Bulls will match the 97-98 record when they won their last title. This is truly been a fantastic season for the Bulls organization. It's been great for the league as well.

The playoffs start on Saturday against the Indiana Pacers, get excited!