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Playoff Preview: Bulls vs. Pacers

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Apr 15, 2011 3:20PM

bulls_pacers_logos.jpg With the best regular season record in the NBA, the Bulls landed home court advantage throughout the playoffs and an opening round match-up against one of their Central Division rivals. The eighth seed Indiana Pacers made the playoffs with a 37-45 record, making them the only sub-.500 team in the postseason. The seven-game series tips off at noon tomorrow.

The Bulls won three of the four regular season meetings between the teams. Indiana won their last meeting on March 18, when Derrick Rose almost single-handedly erased a 16 point Bulls deficit to send the game into overtime before the Bulls lost 115-108. They played without Carlos Boozer that night.

With both teams at full strength, the Bulls should make quick work of the Pacers. Both teams are defensively oriented, but the Bulls are the league's best in overall defense. Indiana is going to have lots of trouble answering the Bulls offensively. Danny Granger, their leading scorer, saw his points/game average drop this year and will be guarded by Luol Deng, the Bulls' best defender. Point guard Darren Collison will be no match for Rose, who's had his way even against the league's other elite point guards. The Bulls match up well at all the other positions, too. And the "bench mob" is leaps and bounds better than the Pacers' reserves.

The Bulls have the tools to take the Pacers out of their comfort zone, while the Pacers are unlikely to find ways to exploit the Bulls weaknesses against transition offense. We also think that Tom Thibodeau's preparations and ability to make adjustments will be rewarded in an extended series. The games could be relatively low scoring, and there's potential for some ugly, grind it out contests. But the hot Bulls are coming in with a nine game winning streak and are relatively healthy, except for Ronnie Brewer's sprained thumb and concerns about Joakim Noah re-aggravating his right ankle. We don't foresee anything other than a four game sweep in this round.

Series Schedule:
Game 1: Sat April 16 at Bulls 12 p.m. CDT (ESPN & CSN | ESPN 1000 AM)
Game 2: Mon April 18 at Bulls, 8:30 p.m. CDT (TNT & CSN | ESPN 1000 AM)
Game 3: Thu April 21 at Pacers, 6:00 p.m. CDT (CSN & NBA-TV | ESPN 1000 AM)
Game 4: Sat April 23 Pacers, 1:30 p.m. CDT (TNT & CSN | ESPN 1000 AM)
Game 5: Tue April 26 at Bulls, TBD, (CSN & TBD | ESPN 1000 AM)*
Game 6, Thu April 28 at Pacers, TBD (CSN & TBD | ESPN 1000 AM)*
Game 7: Sat April 30 at Bulls, TBD (TNT & CSN | ESPN 1000 AM)*
* if necessary