Eastern Conference 1st Round Matchup: Bulls vs. Pacers

Posted by By at 15 April, at 02 : 05 AM Print

The Bulls and Pacers met four times during the regular season with Chicago winning three. On Saturday, in Chicago they will meet for a fifth time, but this time it’ll be the start of the “second season”, the NBA playoffs. On paper it’s the #1 seed against the #8 seed, but the playoffs have taught us time after time that seeds mean nothing. Will this be the start of a playoff run that will end with a seventh title for the Bulls or a first for the Pacers? A closer look at both teams will help figure out who might come out of this series on top.

Point Guard

Derrick Rose is having arguably the season of his life, one that most feel will end with him hoisting the league’s MVP trophy. Darren Collison’s second season has gone basically the same as his rookie year from a statistical standpoint, but watching him you can see that’s becoming more comfortable running the offense. If there’s any point guard in the Eastern Conference that might be capable of keeping up with Rose on a fast break or staying in front of him in the half-court set it might just be Collison. Rose will have the ball in his hands alot so we will get to see from very early on if he’s up to the task. Rose in such a zone right now that’s it’s hard to see him slowing down anytime soon though.

Edge: Bulls

Shooting Guard

Neither Paul George or Keith Bogans generally contribute heavily on the offensive end and typically make their presence felt on the defensive end. In the matchup between these two it wouldn’t surprise me if they combined for about 10 points a game and essentially cancel each other out. Bogans does have an edge when it comes to outside shooting sporting a 38% from beyond the arc and 89 made threes this season, but George’s 6’8” height advantage and wingspan over the 6’5″ Bogans may be enough to eliminate the space Bogans would need to get his shot off.

Edge: Push

Small Forward

This might be the best matchup on the floor on most occasions. With Granger being the top scoring threat the Pacers have, Luol Deng will have the opportunity to make a huge impact on this series on the defensive end if he can contain him. Offensively, Deng is no slouch himself averaging 17 points with 144 three’s made. The same can be said for Granger on the defensive end. Equally as effective as a defender, Granger could go a long way in helping the Pacers make it out of the first round if he can keep Deng under wraps. With the amount of offense the Pacers run through Granger and number of shots he will probably take it’s hard to see him having a minimal impact unless Deng plays all-world defense.

Edge: Pacers

Power Forward

Tyler Hansbrough will probably start, but Josh McRoberts will see significant time here as well. Both have played well this season, in particular Hansbrough over the last month or so. Carlos Boozer has missed 23 games this season due to various injuries, but when he’s played he’s looked very similar to his two-time all-star self. He’s settled for his jumper a bit more this year than in year’s past, but he’s still a threat in the post as well. Defensively, he’s not the best and the good thing for Chicago is that neither Hansbrough or McRoberts have a vast array of offensive moves to throw at him. Individually he’s better than what the Pacers have, but in quantity they make it up.

Edge: Bulls

Center

Like Boozer, Joakim Noah has been hampered with injuries for most of the season, only appearing in 47 games, but his impact on the defensive end is noticeable when he’s been in the lineup. His 10 rebounds per game, along with 48 steals, and 155 blocks shows that he’s more than capable of controlling the paint. He won’t have any plays run for him, but his ability to get to the offensive glass can’t be ignored by Roy Hibbert. In his third season, Hibbert has become what the Pacers hoped he would be when they drafted him in the first round of the 2008 draft. While he isn’t the theft Noah is, he’s essentially his equal in the rebounding and blocked shot departments. With an improving post game he will make Noah work on the defensive end and could get him into foul trouble. Much like the shooting guard matchup, baring either guy getting into quick foul trouble, these two will probably cancel each other out.

Edge: Push

Bench

If the Bulls win this series, their “Bench Mob” will probably have a large say in it. Tom Thibodeau is fortunate to have one of the deeper, more effective benches in the league. On many occasions this season Chicago has extended leads or even eliminated deficits with it’s bench on the floor. Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver, and Omer Asik have all played significant roles off the bench at different points throughout the season and Thibodeau won’t hesitate to call on any when the situation presents itself. Josh McRoberts and Jeff Foster see considerable minutes up front off Indiana’s bench. Neither is expected to provide a huge offensive lift, but they could be key in helping on Boozer. Brandon Rush can provide some scoring punch. A key could be Mike Dunleavy, who’s started in his career both in Golden State and when he first arrived to the Pacers.

Edge: Bulls

Conclusion

This will be a fun series to watch and anyone thinking that a 1 vs 8 matchup means an automatic sweep for Chicago hasn’t watched Pacers play this year. The Bulls might have the edge in overall talent level, but the energy and effort that Frank Vogel’s team has been playing with lately can’t be ignored. An always raucous Indiana crowd that hasn’t seen a playoff game since 2005 will surely do more good than not in their home games. I think the Bulls bench,  dominance at the United Center, and that guy Derrick Rose will ultimately see them get past the Pacers and into the second round. It won’t be as easy as some think though, I’m predicting Chicago in 6.

You can catch me live tweeting just about every playoff game at @GDixon410

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One Comment

  1. Don, 6 years ago Reply

    2 easy for The Bulls. DRose is going to go wild in Indiana. Talk about an Indy500!!!


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