Chicago Bulls-Indiana Pacers (Game 3)

By John Carroll

I have been thoroughly impressed with the job that Frank Vogel and the Indiana Pacers have done so far in this series. They are currently down 2-0 as they head back home to Indiana for Game 3, but I feel like they have a game plan to beat the Bulls. The Pacers have taken the Bulls to the wire in both Games 1 and 2.

Although Derrick Rose scored 36 points in Game 2 the Pacers did a much better job of controlling Rose and making him work for every shot. They sold out to him leaving other Bulls players to make sure he did not beat them by himself. They loaded to wherever he was on the court to protect the paint, they doubled and stayed with him on pick and rolls, and even doubled him on isolations especially late in the game. The Pacers are doing everything in their power to limit his opportunities, which is very hard because he has the ball in his hands on every possession.

Game 3 Adjustments

The Bulls offense is scoring 100 plus points in their two games with the Indiana Pacers. Derrick Rose is averaging 37.5 ppg. Luol Deng is scoring 16 ppg and Carlos Boozer chipped in with 17 points in Game 2 after heavy foul problems limited his scoring in Game 1. However the Bulls are not playing as well offensively as they did during the regular season. Throughout the first two games they appear to have low energy on the offensive end of the floor. In addition they are not moving the ball and screening enough. Thus they found themselves shooting only 38.6% from the field in Game 2 and worse yet they committed 21 turnovers. The Bulls are the number 1 seed in the East and are playing the eighth seeded team in the Pacers. Things should be a little bit easier for them offensively. They need better execution, more ball movement, and a little less Derrick Rose. The Bulls need their complimentary players to step up throughout the playoffs and take some pressure of Rose. If the Bulls continue to count so heavily on Rose it is going to come back to haunt them.

The Pacers have been trying to find someone on their roster who can guard Derrick Rose and Paul George appears to be that man. Derrick Rose scored 36 points in Game 2 but in my opinion George did a very good job on him. George has length, foot speed, and athleticism. George had 4 blocks, 3 steals and numerous deflections in Game 2. He has excellent hands and instincts which allow him to make Rose work for his points. George and of his teammates are trying to force Rose to certain places on the court, using angles to cut off certain areas and then bringing help. The only way to contain Rose is to utilize the entire team to limit his effectiveness.

The Pacers have decided to double Derrick Rose and it is an excellent strategy to make someone other than Rose beat you. Rose has hurt the Pacers badly in this series and they want to do anything they can to get the ball out of his hands. Unfortunately for the Pacers they got burned late in the game when they came with a double of Rose with Tyler Hansbrough. Rose found the open Noah who kicked it out to Korver for and open 3 point shot. Sometimes even the best intentions do not work if a team does not execute their double team and rotations properly. It is still a very good strategy to employ by the Pacers throughout the game. Look to see even more aggressive trapping early in Game 3 by Indiana. Rose must make the correct reads, be sharper with his passes and make quick basketball plays.

Rebounding is the Pacers biggest problem. Chicago has grabbed 41offensive rebounds in the two games of this series. The Pacers are playing excellent defense holding the Bulls to 96 points in Game 2 and only 38.6 fg%. They must be able to wrap up possessions with a much more physical approach. In addition they must keep the ball out of the paint on dribble drives. When they have to help out and shut down driving lanes it leaves them vulnerable to offensive rebounds by their opponents.

Indiana needs to improve offensively in order to win Game 3. I am going to give them a free pass in Game 2 with Darren Collison going down with an ankle injury. The Pacers were ahead by 9 points when Collison got hurt. The Pacers got nice efforts from AJ Price and TJ Ford, but without Colllison they do not have anyone that can put pressure on the Bulls with dribble penetration in late clock situation. In the last 3 ½ minutes of Game 1 and in late in Game 2, the Pacers have bogged down offensively. They need to execute better offensively get much better ball and player movement which will lead to better shot selection

Prediction: Pacers win Game 3