Odd Thoughts: Bulls Vs. Pacers Game 1
Written by Peck
I had to give myself some time away from the game today to write this. I think I actually went through all five stages of grief after the 4th quarter and there was just no way I could have looked back and given a fair assessment of the game then.
First and foremost respect to the Bulls & to their coaching staff. Well played with great composure to not panic and be able to both shut us down and hit big shots to win the game.
Derrick Rose is a force without a doubt and he got just enough help from his team mates at the end to be able to take the game. He is a great player, his ability to drive into the paint is only matched by a healthy Dwayne Wade & even then I think he is actually quicker than what Wade was. He only hit one outside shot that I remember but who needs to do that when you are able to get to the paint whenever you want.
As to his free throw shooting? Obviously he is going to get to the line several times a game. Iíve read people say he didnít deserve to go as much Iíve read people say he should have been to the line more often. I donít know myself. There were calls he got that Iím wondering what they saw but then there were plenty of times I saw exactly what they saw. However all that I would ask and I think itís only fair to expect is that they call he same exact fouls going the other way if they are committed. Without going back shot by shot I will just say that there were a couple of times our guys were just hammered in the lane with no call from anyone. But Iím not going to dwell on that because that would imply that I felt that this is what cost us the game, it didnít. Sure it didnít help but their composure and our lack there of in the final 3 min. is what cost us the game.
Even now, all of these hours later Iím still sitting here trying to figure out what way to go with this post. As Mark Boyle asked Croshere at the end of the game is the glass half empty or half full and what do you take away from this.
Obviously I go back and forth with this, as Iím sure most of you are as well.
Letís look at our team now.
Danny Granger: Guilty your honor. Guilty of what you ask, guilty of not being a mega superstar like James, Rose, Bryant, Wade, etc. And for some reason that fact makes him the pariah of our team to many people on the internet & in particular on the Digest. Yes, he is not a superstar that you can throw the ball to and say ďgo win the gameĒ. He can hit big game winning shots, heís done it before. But no he is not an elite level ball handler who can throw himself into someone and draw a foul while getting the and 1. Yes he did start the game like he had never touched a basketball before today but he kept pushing and by the third quarter he was on fire. He ended the day as our leading scorer, shooting 50% from the field (including three point shots), our second leading rebounder & got the second most assist for our club. While stealing and blocking a shot. Yes we must trade him right away. Look I get that at the end of the game he was part of the reason our offense stagnated, but to say it was all his fault is just wrong pure and simple. The Bulls defense stepped up and cut off any passing lanes for us and trapped the dribbler more than once. Sure I would have liked Danny to have been able to hit three more shots as well, but Iím not going to be calling for his head because he didnít. Now I did not like the fact that he did not get to the free throw line today so he is going to have to be more conscious about that next game.
Darren Collison: For one half of basketball today our point guard played step by step with the MVP of the league. In fact because he was actually getting his team mates more involved I would say he actually out played him for a good portion of that time. That first half was the best basketball D.C. has played all season. I like the fact that he didnít seem intimidated by the circumstance of playing in the playoffs & vs. Rose. In fact not only did it not bother him he seemed to thrive on it. For a half that is. Second half Darren sort of faded away but still was able to run the offense better than he has all season, that is until the final 3 min. of the game. Then the Bulls defense stepped up and made it all but impossible to move the ball around. Still though I was very pleased with his performance and if we can just get half of that the rest of the way we will be better than what I thought we would be coming into the series.
Tyler Hansbrough: He was hitting his jumpers. When he hits his jumpers he is a different type of beast out there because if you try & close out on him he can drive around you if you are not careful. The Bulls for the most part never closed out on him and he made them pay time after time. Now while I was certainly pleased with his offensive production & his individual defense was not bad I will say that he is going to have to give us more than 4 rebounds if we have any hope of staying in this series. In fact our entire team has got to do better as they just killed us on the glass winning 49-34. Tyler is such a unique player because I would probably tell you that I didnít expect him to have that kind of game again this series because I donít think he can hit that many jumpers in a row again, however he is not a player to bet against. Sometimes a player is just a winner and you canít figure out why exactly and in his case he has always been part of winning. We didnít win today but he played like a winner.
Roy Hibbert: We have got to work on getting Roy more shots. 7 is not enough, he hit 4 of them and grabbed 8 boards. He had 5 fouls but I think for the most part he did an excellent job of keeping control of himself today. I know everybody was hitting from the field today but we can NOT forget to get the ball to Roy in the post a few more times just to see if he can get something going and maybe get a couple of more fouls on Noah. Overall pleased with the big fella, he didnít come out shell shocked by being in the playoffs either.
Paul George: At first it wasnít pretty. I was afraid he was going to foul out in the first half but he finally settled down and provided a couple of decent blocked shots (one vs. Noah in particular was great) and some rebounds. However Paul we need some offense from you. I donít want you forcing anything but getting up only 2 shots all day, one of which was an alley oop off of a break is not going to cut it. I love the defense he played vs. Rose & in fact actually I think he did probably the best one on one job vs. him of the night. But we canít afford to have anyone on the floor that is not a threat to score vs. the Bulls. I understand though itís hard to get the ball to everyone & again I donít want him forcing shots (in particular rushed threeís).
Brandon Rush: Well Iíll be, we actually saw an offensively aggressive Rush today, and this is as rare as spotting an Albino Elephant so we should all be grateful to have witnessed this miracle. Not only did he hit the three point shots that he gets by loitering on the corner but we actually saw him drive the baseline today. He missed of course but he did get fouled and shot probably the only 2 free throws for the entire series for him. His defense was also very good as expected however he did not grab his usual number of rebounds. No big deal per say just kind of odd for him. He was the reason I was probably more depressed after the game than anything because I figure we have blown our one chance of utilizing Rushís one good offensive game.
Mike Dunleavy: Today is just another reason why I never look or care about the individual +/- for a game. In case you didnít know Mike was the only Pacer with a positive in that category with a +4. Now mind you Mike didnít score a point in his time on the floor and didnít exactly set the world on fire with his 1 assist & 1 rebound either. So how he ended up with a positive Iíll never know, and frankly will never care. Today was Mikeís first playoff game and you could tell it. Not that he played a bad game itís just that he took on the persona of Brandon Rush today in the fact that you kind of forgot he was playing when he was on the floor. He was however a victim of one of those questionable calls that Rose got. I havenít gone back and looked again but man it sure seemed like Mike was planted when he was called for that blocking foul. Iím hoping for more from Mike in game 2.
Josh McRoberts: to steal a phrase Josh is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. Sometimes you get the jelly filled or even a caramel & peanut filled candy and you are very happy. Other times you get the candy that has the hard teeth shattering former gel stuff that no one knows what it is. Today with Josh we got the latter. Certainly his 1-6 with three of them being rejected did not go into the Josh McRoberts top 10 plays of the year material. While he did grab 5 boards he certainly could have and should have done better. We really REALLY need Josh to step up in game 2.
Jeff Foster: He gave Derrick Rose the first decent foul of the day and the fact that people were calling that a hard foul made me smile. Yes, by todayís standards Iím surprised he was not called for a flagrant foul. But I can remember a time when Anthony Mason clothes lined Haywood Workman and all but made him do a 360 in the air and wasnít even called for a foul. Jeff hit his free throws, hit one shot that I have no idea how he even got it up and played decent defense. He didnít hit the boards like usual but then again nobody on our team did. There is really nothing to say here about him, he gave you what he could and he set a good example for the other front court players.
A.J. Price: He hit his shots and did a decent job of staying in front of Rose when he was on him. I would like a little more offensive direction from him when he is in there but again today he was in with Foster & McRoberts for several min. at a time so itís hard to get assists when no one is hitting.
Coaching: Other than somehow not getting the team to collapse in the final minutes I donít know what else Frank could have done today. He had a young team that had never played in the playoffs before believing that they could not only compete with the Bulls but that they could win. His demeanor in the timeouts seems to be exactly what these players at this time needed and he had them prepared to defend the low post game of the Bulls. In fact defensively they pretty much shut everyone down but Rose & Deng. Maybe take a time out a little earlier in the run, maybe run a different set. But even then Iím not sure it would have made a difference. Obviously we are not in the post game or with them at practice tomorrow but I have to believe that he is building this team up, not tearing them down. He is telling them that they had this game and that they can play and they can beat the Bulls. Yea, Iíll admit it. After talking to this guy in person he sold me, after hearing some of the things that I was told about him from people who work with the club he sold me even more. What you see on the TV is what you get from him. This isnít fake B.S. that he is putting out there, he actually believes this stuff and he really believes in our club.
Again as I end this I still donít know how I feel. I am proud, donít get me wrong. I am very very very very proud of our team. I fully expected them to blow us out of the water in game 1. I never thought we would lead for 3 and ĺ of the game. I never thought weíd have a 10 point lead. But in a way losing a game like this hurts maybe even more because I now honestly believe we let this one slip away & Iím just afraid that we will never put together as good a game as we did today.
But then I keep thinking with our team, you never know. There is nothing to say that we canít go right back at it in game 2 and if we could execute down the stretch we couldnít pull one out.
Before I go I want to say one thing about the national media coverage that I watched today. I watched the pre-game show on both ESPN & NBAtv and to say that I was disgusted would be an understatement.
Look I get it, we are a losing team. The worst record in the playoffs, they have the best record in the playoffs. They have the leading MVP candidate. I fully expected them to talk them up and to give us no chance, which is the way it should be. But for the love of God they didnít talk about us at all. I mean nothing about our team other than to use Danny Grangerís statement about the Bulls to segway into being able to talk more about the Bulls. Again I get it, I didnít expect equal time. But to get not time at all?
I have a feeling that todayís game changed that for the next time.
Time to regroup grab the flag and charge the hill.