INDIANAPOLIS — It was only a matter of time before it happened: the Pacer took full advantage of Chicago miscues to take Game 4 and send the series back to Chicago.
Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong for the Bulls up to and including Derrick Rose being injured and having to leave the game.
Let’s start with the Bench Mob. They were so good in the regular season to have looked the way they did on Saturday. Kyle Korver produced but that’s it. The Mob accepted for 17 of the Bulls 84 points which is a vomit inducing number. Zeros were put up by Taj Gibson and Omer Asik while duces were posted by C.J Watson and Ronnie Brewer. Thesis the Mob usually hands out was noticeably absent.
Next it’s the defense. For being such a powerful defensive force this season, Chicago has done a nice job of not letting that prowess show up until the fourth quarter and after it’s too late. They did hold the Pacers to 39.2% from the field and did force 14 turnovers, but it wasn’t enough. Even despite out-rebounding the Pacers, the Bulls couldn’t get it done.
That leads to the next problem on Saturday, the starting five. Joakim Noah was the only guy who had a consistent day scoring, they rest didn’t show up until the fourth quarter. Once the final quarter hit and the Bulls were in a deep hole with a points total in the sixties did the starting five show up. To their credit they did have an incredible final quarter spreading the ball and scoring as a unit, but had they played like that all game, we wouldn’t be here right now.
Boozer finished with 15, Deng finished with 16 and Noah with a whopping 21.
But it was Derrick Rose and his off-game that proved the difference. It also exposed a weakness the Bulls have and that’s relying too heavily on Rose to win. Had Rose scored his usual 20-30 points, the Bulls sweep the Pacers. Instead, he is held to his worst game of this playoff series posting just 15 points. A lot of people will attribute this to his ankle, but he played 43 minutes and is too good to give the Bulls haters and the Rose MVP buzzkillers this easy of a target.
Chicago did manage a fourth quarter comeback but it finally failed.
I say it that way because the Bulls are too good to have to be fighting their way back into games where they are the clear favorite. Let’s not forget, the Bulls are the one seed, not Indiana. It’s the Chicago Chokehold not the Pacer Putdown.
It’s nice too see effort but it’s beyond agitating and frustrating to see this fourth quarter comeback every single game. Chicago will get bounced with an early exit from these playoffs is this continues. There is no doubt Chicago will make it to the second round, but as they make it deeper in the playoffs, the opponents will be more and more difficult.
And only a fool will believe that Miami, Boston and even Atlanta will allow this fluffy fourth quarter comeback stuff to happen and allow the Bulls back into the game.