I didn’t know Darren Collison was the most important player in this series.
After committing 14 of them in Game 1, the supposedly well-drilled, quick-study Bulls committed a stunning 21 in Game 2. I’m sure the Bulls entered the series with an offensive plan, but I can’t figure out what it is, and worse, neither can the Bulls. Other than the last five minutes when it’s “Let Derrick do it.’’
Wait a minute, the Bulls outrebounded the Pacers by a staggering 57-33, and it was still a one-possession game with 17 seconds to go?
The Bulls missed a stunning 61 shots, so, sure, they should’ve had a lot of rebounds, but they kept missing at the rim, as well. You can’t give me the excuse that the Pacers’ length bothers the Bulls when they rout a team on the boards like that.
The Bulls won the first two games of their opening-round playoff series, but the truth is, the Pacers have won more minutes of this series. They just haven’t won the important minutes -- the final minutes.
In Game 2 on Monday night, the Bulls didn’t take the lead for good until 5:16 remained when Rose converted a three-point play on his way to 11 of the Bulls’ last 20 points. In Game 1 on Saturday, the Bulsl didn’t take the lead for good until 48 seconds remained as Rose was scoring 7 of the Bulls’ last 10 points. That’s what the presumptive MVP does.
In Game 1, the Pacers missed their last eight shots. In Game 2, they got two baskets in the last 5:30, but really only one because the second bucket came with a second left and the game decided.
The Pacers, meanwhile, don’t have a closer. Heck they don’t have anybody who shows up, period, when it matters.
Lucky for the Bulls that the Pacers don’t have a player with the nerve to show up when it matters. For what it’s worth, Miami, Boston and Orlando do have those players.
It might not be time to panic, but it sure looks as if they’re feeling the burden of finishing with the best record in the NBA. The pressure looks like it has made them tight to start games --- heck, tight to start the fourth quarter.
These Bulls look like a classic example of a team that soared when nobody expected greatness and then became everybody’s pet, but now that everybody’s looking and a lot of people are predicting a title or at least a finals appearance, they easily lose the poise and focus that allowed them to execute at the highest level.
Games 1 and 2 would’ve been considered quality wins if they had come on the road. But they didn’t. And now the Bulls actually play on the road. And you know what? This is probably perfect, and here’s why:
Playing in Indianapolis will get the Bulls away from all the people telling them how good they are, which is when the Bulls tend to show how good they are.