Blackhawks

Bulls stay focused, try to close out Pacers

448357.jpg

Bulls stay focused, try to close out Pacers

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 11:29 a.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLISDont talk to the Bulls about the potential impact of winning Saturdays Game 4. They dont even want to discuss it in theory.

If we start thinking about all the other things, were going to lose sight of what we need to do, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau before Friday afternoons practice at IUPUIs (Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis) gym, The Jungle.

The big thing in this league is everybody looks at all the other stuff and thats not the way it works, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. I think just being ready for the next game, thats enough and thats what you need to do. The next games always the hardest game in this league.

Added Derrick Rose: It feels good, but we still have one more game to play. I dont want to jinx myself by saying that were winning already, but were almost there. Weve got one more important game.

Chicago knows that despite their 3-0 series lead, the host Pacers wont exactly lay out the red carpet for them on their way to the second round. Indiana has been consistent in their primary focuslimiting Roseand after throwing a variety of defenders (including 6-foot-8 rookie Paul George, swingman Brandon Rush and Thursday, for the first time in the series, veteran Dahntay Jones) and maintaining their rough play in the paint, resulting in a 4-for-18 outing for Rose in Game 3, its likely that Pacers interim head coach Frank Vogel comes up with a few more adjustments in hopes of keeping his teams playoff run alive.

Because youre playing the same team over and over again, youre going to see a couple wrinkles here and there, but theyre not going to change who they are. That doesnt happen, said Thibodeau. Weve got to be consistent with our defense and our rebounding, and weve got to take care of the ball.
Read: Aggrey Sam's The Starting Five for Game 4 vs. the Pacers

Chimed in Joakim Noah: Weve seen a lot and I expect them to try to take the ball out of D-Roses hands and its on us to try to make plays when theres one less defender.

As for criticism that the Bulls arent winning by wide enough margins or playing an aesthetically-pleasing style, the team isnt concerned.

I dont worry about any of that stuff, said Thibodeau. I know that in the playoffs, wins are hard to come by, so you do what you have to do to win.

For a team that only has four players from last seasons 41-41 squad that barely sneaked into the postseason before being bounced in five first-round games, this is heady stuff.

Winning is important to us, more important than any of the controversies or whatever people are saying right now, said Noah. Were up 3-0, Ive never been in this position before, its very exciting and were not going to let peoples expectations get in the way of us enjoying this, enjoying the process, enjoying getting better, enjoying improving, and hopefully we can do big things.

Were going to keep the same approach, he continued. Hopefully get this series behind us and get ready for our next opponent.

If that happens to be in a sweep, all the better.

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.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks face Golden Knights for first time

10-24_knights_matchup_nhl_chi_blank.jpg

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks face Golden Knights for first time

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 8:45 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Corey Crawford vs. ... Oscar Dansk? 

The Golden Knights have seen both Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban go down with injuries, so they're scraping for goaltenders at this point.

On one end of the ice, you have one of the best netminders in the league and a two-time Stanley Cup champion in Crawford. On the other, you have a 23-year-old rookie in Dansk making his first official NHL start who will be backed up by a 24-year-old rookie in Maxime Lagace, who has never appeared in an NHL game.

In his first game action, Dansk stopped 10 of 11 shots in relief during Saturday's 3-2 overtime win over St. Louis.

2. Fast start.

The Blackhawks are tied for second in both goals scored (13) and fewest goals allowed (four) in the first period, which has a large reason for their early season success.

The Golden Knights aren't the kind of team that gets out to a blazing start. They've allowed only five goals in the opening frame, but they've scored only five as well, which ranks among the bottom 10 teams in the league. 

3. Beware of James Neal.

The Golden Knights became the first team in NHL history to win six of their first seven games of their inaugural season. And they probably don't have half of those wins if it weren't for Neal, who scored the game-winning goal in each of their first three games.

He leads the club with six goals and eight points, and serves as the motor for a team that doesn't have much offensive talent. He's the go-to guy, and somebody you have to keep an eye on when he's on the ice.

 

Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

10-24_cavaliers_matchup_nba_chi_blank.jpg

Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

Here are Three Things to Watch in the Bulls' Tuesday night tilt against the Cavaliers on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

1. LeBron James will be on your television

Love him or hate him, LeBron James is must-see TV. Now in his 15th NBA season, James has shown no signs of slowing down. Despite playing just one preseason game (against the Bulls), James has shown anything but rust in three games, averaging 25.0 points on 60 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in nearly 37 minutes. He's a threat every night to do something you've never seen on a basketball court, His Airness included. Justin Holiday and Paul Zipser will have their hands full against the game's best player.

2. Lauri Markkanen, Week 2

Small sample size alert! But through the season's first week Markkanen and Ben Simmons are the only rookies averaging a double-double (Dallas' Dennis Smith has played just one game, averaging 16 points and 10 assists). While the Bulls have struggled through two games, Markkanen's net rating is third best on the team and he leads the Bulls bigs in rebounds per game and rebound percentage. Markkanen has shown some versatility offensively, and his 7 free-throw attempts have been a nice surprise as well.

3. Don't forget: The Bulls swept the Cavaliers last year

OK, so expecting a victory Tuesday night in Cleveland isn't smart. The Bulls will be underdogs just like they were in each of the four games last season, all of which were Bulls winners. It was the first time in 52 division series that LeBron James had been swept, which is pretty remarkable considering the Bulls were the No. 8 seed and the Cavs coasted to a third straight NBA Finals. We're not over here predicting a win. But just remember: the Bulls have fared well against James in the regular season.