Now, let's be honest seems like an easy win for the home team right? Best Record, Best Record at home, last year's Best Player, surely with all of those small things in your favor you can't lose right? Not to mention this is the former 8th seeded team whom you faced in the first round, and beat. But there's something different about the Pacers this year. They hustle more, they play more as a team, some of the players that have been hibernating in their cocoons have awakened and the Pacers have blossomed into a beautifully good NBA team. A team that has the potential to perhaps, dare I say, make it deeper into the playoffs.
Now, that same process happened to the Bulls, early last season when they started to beat the NBA's elite also. So, coming into tonight's contest, it was close throughout the game. Every basket that Chicago makes, BOOM, Indiana makes one, Chicago misses a shot, BAM, Pacers turnover. The two teams looked very evenly matched. Much of the reason has to do with the incredibly improved play of the Pacers' frontcourt. West has found a new life in Indiana, and is playing like an All-Star in the East. Roy Hibbert, broken nose and all, is displaying the true definition of heart. Not only is Hibbert playing, Hibbert is playing well, really well. Dominating some of the NBA's best big man and not getting the credit for the effort that is put in every night with a broken nose, is really speaking to his character.
The Bulls and Pacers were close throughout the game. No one seeming to pull away, until the final 4 minutes of the game. Not the Bulls, but the Pacers, started hitting shots, and outworking Chicago for every rebound. Now since Chicago's a good team, they kept up with them by matching the intensity. With good all around team play and a final Brian Scalabrine (?) miss, the Pacers prevail to hand Chicago its first loss at home this season.
Now, to analyze whether it was a Pacers' win, or a Bulls' loss. In the final 2 minutes of the game, the Pacers kept up their intensity and the Bulls were barely keeping up with them. Chicago did not make shots in the closing minutes of the game. In the final two mintues, Carlos Boozer picked up his 5th foul, Coach Tom Thibbodeau takes him out as any smart coach would do and he puts in, Brian Scalabrine? The Bulls have been dealing with injuries this entire season. So yeah, Brian Scalabrine goes in to give the Bulls a spark on defense which they desperately needed. He did his job and helped make the Pacers miss 3 key shots, which gave the bulls one final possession to tie. coming out of the timeout we all know whose hands the ball is going to be in: Rose's. So he takes it, easily gets past his defender, and like a good defender does Hibbert goes over to contest Rose from getting the easy layup. Rose passes it to the corner in hope that whoever is there is going to make the shot. Who is it? None other than Brian Scalabrine. Why is he even in the game? B-Scal is a man who only 4 days prior to this, was a guy that you brought in only when you were up 40. Now all of a sudden, Thibbodeau trusts this guy with the game? Scal wasn't even expecting the ball. He, just like everyone else in that United Center, thought that Rose was going to get the last shot. That's how it usually is, the leader gets it, and his teammates will go with what there leader does. I mean, at the end of a concert you dont see Taylor Swift tossing the mic to one of her backup singers. When it comes down to it, the Bulls got beat. The Pacers won this one. This win makes for a more competitive and exciting Eastern Conference, and a promising rivalry between the two teams.
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