The powers that be in the Eastern conference go: Chicago, Boston, Miami, right? The questions surrounding these three teams will be answered over the next month, but no team in the league is shrouded in mystery more than the Chicago Bulls.
With three games gone what have we learned from these Bulls and their unquestioned leader, Derrick Rose? We’ve seen them battle back against the scrappy Pacers in all three games, we’ve watched Rose dissect every trap, every screen, and every defense they’ve thrown his way and we’ve learned all there is to learn about the Bulls offensively: stop Rose you stop the Bulls.
The Bulls path to the Eastern Finals is all but set. They should finish the series against the Pacers on Monday and go through either Atlanta or Orlando in six games. The question is, what happens when Rose runs into the Celtics defense or LeBron James guarding him for an entire series?
These have been close games with the Pacers, and the argument that this Pacers team is better than Atlanta and Orlando is a sound one. Still, when the likes of Darren Collison, AJ Price, and Tyler Hansbrough are giving them trouble, what’s going to happen when they face more elite talent (LBJ, D-Wade, and Bosh for example)?
So, before we coronate these Bulls as the eventual East champs and favorites for the title, we should look at what they’ve done in this first round series to convince us of their elite status:
- Held the Pacers to 91 points a game (about nine below the Pacers season average)
- Out rebounded the Pacers by an average of 13 a game
- Derrick Rose is averaging 32.6 points a game (15 points a game more than the nearest Bull, Luol Deng)
- D-Rose is 44-49 from the foul line in the series, that’s an average of eight trips to the foul line a game. Jordan-esque treatment by the refs
We saw Derrick struggle in Game three, but his team rallied around him and he made shots and plays when he was most needed. We’ve watched him do great things; carrying his team all season. Will he be able to carry them through the playoffs, and can he stand up against Boston’s toughness and Miami’s athleticism? They go as he goes, plain and simple.
When the series ends on Monday in Chicago the skeptics will continue to doubt Chicago’s offense outside of Rose; their team intensity (letting the Pacers get out to double-digit leads early); and their experience going deep in the playoffs. Dropping a game to the upstart Pacers isn’t a huge deal; dropping their intensity, even for a few minutes against Miami or Boston will spell disaster for the Bulls.
With Rose, the MVP of the league, at the helm, the future is very bright for this group in Chicago. The biggest question is, why wait?
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.