Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Posted: 4:14 p.m.
By Aggrey Sam
According to logic, the Bulls' fate in Game 5 of their first-round series against the Pacers rests on Derrick Rose's tender ankle. His own proclamations or not, anybody who's paid attention to Rose's demeanor knows that not only will he play, but more than likely play well in Chicago's potential close-out game.
At the very least, the All-Star point guard will give it an honest effort and if his devoted teammates pick up his slack--something necessary, whether he plays or not--it should be "on to the next one" (specifically, the second round of the playoffs), as the Bulls are fond of saying after games. Regardless of his health, Indiana's swarming defense has befuddled the Bulls as of late, with bigger defenders bodying up Rose and Pacers post players trapping him just past halfcourt, either forcing the ball out of his hands or forcing him into tough shots.
READ: Rose says it's not broken, so I'm playing
An overly discussed issue has been Indiana's physical play, both when targeting Rose on his forays into the lane and around the basket in general. While the Pacers certainly haven't been afraid to flex their muscles, it's not as if they're manhandling Chicago, but when a team has been so dominant in the paint all season long, it can be jarring to see an opposing team strike back.
The two main tenets of the Bulls' team success--defense and rebounding--haven't abandoned them, but the plucky Pacers' ability to keep things close all series has become more than an irritant, now that they've actually won a game. The young squad's burgeoning confidence has been evident and while Chicago isn't yet in the danger zone, it's important to put Indiana away in a convincing fashion, for rest purposes, to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals and to make a show of force in a postseason that has left several regular-season powerhouses looking vulnerable, if not in a more precarious position.
According to Pacers interim head coach Frank Vogel--as an aside, if his team's performance doesn't shed the "interim" tag from his title, nothing will--if Indiana wins Game 5, they believe they can win the entire series. As far-fetched as that may sound, the Bulls would be wise to not allow that scenario to even become a possibility.
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.