Unconcerned with style, Bulls look to go up 3-0

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Unconcerned with style, Bulls look to go up 3-0

Thursday, April 21, 2011Posted: 12:35 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLISThe mood in the visiting locker room at Conseco Fieldhouse was one of weariness. After three off days between Games 2 and 3 of their first-round series, the Bulls were sick and tired.

Not literally, of course, but of the same general tone of reporters questions. To paraphrase the overall content: How come you havent dominated the Pacers?

Were not worried about that. We have our own belief. If we win the game, we win, said a testy Carlos Boozer before the teams Thursday morning shootaround. Obviously we want to play better, but at the end of the day, were up 2-0 and were looking forward to Game 3.

Added Joakim Noah: Ive never been up 2-0 in a playoff series in my lifeso, letdownI wouldnt call that a letdown at all. I understand that theres high expectations for this team, but at the end of the day, were up 2-0 and we have areas we can improve in, and we can do that and thats whats so exciting. We know that we can get better.

READ: Pacers' Collison a game-time decision

Were the No. 1 seed, but were still hunting. Weve never been in this position before, so I think it doesnt matter. I dont think anybodys lost their hunger because were a No. 1 seed, he continued. I feel like when you lose that hunger, youre never going to be in the hunt for a title. You dont make it far without hunger. You have to be a hungry group, regardless of the cards that are given.

The opinion of others doesnt matter. Its just people. Its just stories being written. At the end of the day, we understand what we need to do and we understand that were not playing our best basketball and the only thing that matters is what we think in this locker room. Theres a lot of speculation and things that are said, but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what we think of each other and going out there and winning ballgames.

Now, nobodys truly doubting that the Bulls will conquer Indianaexcept the bold young Pacersbut the manner in which theyve performed thus far in the series doesnt exactly inspire confidence, let alone championship hopes.

The so-called issues that have emerged for the Bullsa lack of a second scoring option, a mild downturn on defense, inconsistent play from the post tandem of Noah and Boozer and less productivity from the second unitare certainly problematic for the time being, but observers dont seem to be taking into account that maybe the Pacers are actually better than their losing regular-season record indicates.

WATCH: Leaning big on Rose? Bulls shrug off criticism

To me, its crazy because if you look at all the other teams and I keep saying, Indianas a good team. I think people are not giving them respect because theyre the eighth seed, but I think people forget that a couple years ago, when we were the eighth seed, we took Boston to Game 7. Teams get better as the year goes on, just because a lot goes into the season. They could be a great seven-game team and not a great 82-game team. Its sometimes focus. A lot goes into that, Luol Deng told CSNChicago.com. Defensively, theyre making us work. A lot of teams, we stop their first option and theyre gone. This team is going into their third, fourth option and you cant ask for more.

Theyre looking to shock the world and let everyone know, but I think theyve showed us enough. Theyve showed everyone enough that they could play with us and theyve earned our respect, he went on to say. A lot of other teams could have lost those games or one of those games and I really think that even though people arent happy with the way were winning, I just want to win. I really dont care how it comes, buzzer-beater or whatever, at the end of the day, as long as I go home with the win, thats all that matters.

Earlier in the season, even when expectations for the Bulls werent as high, there was grumbling about the closeness of contests against supposedly inferior competition and it seemed that their blue-collar style wasnt fully appreciated. As the squad continued to win games, improve and go on to secure the best record in the league, that talk ceased.

Maybe its time to take a trip down memory lane. Better yet, pay closer attention to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, the ultimate pragmatist.

READ: Deng all about defense against Pacers

Each game is important and if you start looking at all the other things, thats where you lose your focus. The way we approach it is we just concentrate on exactly whats in front of us. Theyre a hard-playing team, they had to play well and hard down the stretch to get in and Im expecting a tough game tonight, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, whose streamlined approach has filtered into the subconscious of his players. This is the playoffs. If you study whats going on in the playoffs and you study whats gone on in the past few years, this is not uncommon. Teams are good. Theres going to be tight games, theres going to be tough situations. You have to endure through everything.

You look at last year. The Lakers had a tough first-round series and they ended up winning the championship. I know in 08 with the Celtics, we had a tough first-round series, so thats all part of it. You have to be able to get through those things, he continued. Im just concerned with winning. Others may be more concerned with aesthetics. Im concerned with winning. As long as we win and we learn, and we correct and we improve, thats all I want us concentrating on.

There you have it. Keep worrying about the nature of the Bulls wins, while they remain concerned about the final result.

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.

Wake-up Call: Rose returning to Chicago?; Willson Contreras takes over; State of Cubs-Cards

Wake-up Call: Rose returning to Chicago?; Willson Contreras takes over; State of Cubs-Cards

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Thursday: 

Is #TheReturn getting a reboot? Report says there's a possibility Derrick Rose comes back to Bulls

This is becoming Willson Contreras' team, whether or not Cubs add Alex Avila or another veteran catcher

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for tight ends

Why Blackhawks fans might want to tap the brakes on Alex DeBrincat

That escalated quickly: Cubs just a game back of Brewers, could be in first place as soon as this weekend

Ping-pong balls everywhere: Where do the Bulls rank among projected lottery teams?

Joe Maddon's prime-time message: 'Help or die'

Report: Derrick Rose is considering teaming up with LeBron James, Cavs

Cubs Talk Podcast: State of Cubs-Cardinals rivalry and what lies ahead

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Playing with the enemy: Chicago athletes who teamed up with rivals

Playing with the enemy: Chicago athletes who teamed up with rivals

Chicago's chosen son may soon play with the enemy. 

According to reports on Thursday, Derrick Rose is in talks to join LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on a one-year deal. 

That is indeed hard to imagine, considering the former MVP has spent years battling James for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. But leaving the Windy City to join a rival team isn't a new concept. 

In fact, a few Chicago superstar athletes have done it before: 

-- Chris Chelios, Blackhawks to Red Wings

One of the best defenseman in hockey, Chelios was traded to the Detroit Red Wings after nine productive seasons in Chicago. He hoisted a Stanley Cup not long after and finished his 10-year Red Wings career with 152 points and a plus-158. 

-- Julius Peppers, Bears to Packers

After becoming a cap casualty with the Bears, Peppers chose greener pastures in Wisconsin. The defensive end signed with the Green Bay Packers, where he's tallied 25 sacks in three seasons. 

-- Dexter Fowler, Cubs to Cardinals

Well, at least he won a ring here. Fowler's surprise return to the North Side in 2016 helped boost the Cubs to their first World Series trophy in 108 years, but after winning, the center fielder rightly opted for the money. He signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal in St. Louis last offseason. 

Watch the video above as Siera Santos and Kelly Crull relive the heartbreak.