NBA Playoffs: Indiana Pacers- Chicago Bulls Preview and PredictionBy Jake Cox on April 14, 2011 at 10:43 pm in Bulls, Featured
The number one seeded Chicago Bulls will face the number eight seeded Indiana Pacers in round one of the playoffs. The Bulls have won nine games in a row, which propelled them to the NBA’s best record for the regular season. The Pacers, on the other hand, enter the playoffs as the only team with a losing record. They are much improved this season, but nobody is giving them much of a shot to upset the Bulls in round one.
Here is a position by position breakdown of each team heading into the first round matchup between the division rival Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers.
C Joakim Noah vs. C Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert has developed into a solid inside threat for the Pacers, but he will have his hands full with defensive specialist Joakim Noah. Hibbert has been inconsistent this season, and it remains to if he shows up or not for this series. Hibbert will have a difficult time scoring against Noah, and I don’t expect that he will be a big part of the Pacers’ offensive game plan.
Noah missed quite a few games this past season, but he proved why he is so valuable to the Bulls with his hustle and energy. He plays excellent defense, and he can score some points if the Bulls need him to, although that isn’t really his forte.
PF Carlos Boozer vs. PF Tyler Hansbrough
This could be a very one-sided matchup in favor of the Bulls. Carlos Boozer is an excellent low post player who will have his way with the defensively challenged Hansbrough. Boozer became the low post presence that the Bulls have been lacking for years, and he will be a key player throughout the playoffs.
Hansbrough has improved this season, but he is no match for Boozer, who is a much stronger player than Hansbrough. He will have trouble guarding Carlos, and he may lose some playing time in this series because of his lack of defensive ability.
SF Luol Deng vs. SF Danny Granger
Luol Deng has been a very pleasant surprise, turning in the best overall season of his career. He gives the Bulls a nice offensive weapon, but his defense will be key in this matchup. Danny Granger is the Pacers to offensive threat, so Deng will have to focus on shutting him down, instead of lighting up the scoreboard.
Danny Granger had a down year this season, but he will still have to shoulder the load on offense for Indiana. Look for Luol Deng to use his quickness and length to help shut down the Pacers’ leading scorer.
SG Keith Bogans vs. SF Mike Dunleavy
Bogans won’t provide much help on offense, but he plays very good defense in limited minutes. He’s the weak link in the starting lineup, but he has a well defined role that he’s filled very well this season.
Mike Dunleavy has played well on offense this season since returning from a broken thumb. I expect him to get the start at shooting guard, as he prevents the biggest challenge on defense for Bogans.
PG Derrick Rose vs. PG Darren Collison
Derrick Rose has been stellar this season, as the league’s likely MVP. The Bulls will only go as far as Rose takes them, and he should have a very good first series against Darren Collison. He is just too good for the Pacers to handle on defense.
Darren Collison is a solid point guard, but he’s going to have his hands full guarding Rose. He may provide a spark on offense, but I expect him to get embarrassed on the defensive end of the court.
Chicago’s Bench vs. Indiana’s Bench
The Bulls bench has been a revelation this season. With Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson providing the spark on offense, the Bulls can rest their starters without going through any scoring droughts. Omer Asik, Taj Gibson, and Ronnie Brewer are excellent defenders who overwhelm opposing teams’ benches.
Paul George and Brandon Rush provide some scoring off the bench, while Josh McRoberts is strong on the defensive end. Jeff Foster provides a veteran presence off the bench for Indiana, just as Kurt Thomas does for the Bulls.
Tom Thibodeau vs. Frank Vogel
The Bulls have bought into Thibodeau’s defense first philosophy, and it has worked beautifully for them this season. Thibs is a strong candidate for Coach of the Year, and he shouldn’t have much of a challenge game planning for the Pacers.
Frank Vogel took over for Jim O’Brien in the middle of the season, and he’s done an adequate job. He doesn’t have the same intensity that Thibodeau does, and he will have his hands full in this matchup.
This shouldn’t be much of a series, where we’ll see the best team in the playoffs against the worst team in the playoffs. If Indiana is able to avoid being swept, it has to be considered a success as they just don’t match up well against Chicago. The Bulls should dispatch the Pacers pretty easily here, as I fully expect to see a first round sweep. So get out your brooms Chicago, as we look forward to a tougher second round matchup against either Orlando or Atlanta.
Series Prediction: Bulls in four
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