Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Posted: 1:00 p.m. Updated 11:55 p.m.
By Aggrey Sam
The Chicago Bulls announced that Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first-round series against the Indiana Pacers will begin at 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 16. Game 1 from the United Center will be aired live on Comcast SportsNet.
Now that the regular season is complete, ever-focused Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau allowed himselfand his playersthe pleasure of looking ahead to the Bulls first-round opponent, Central Division rival Indiana.
Theyre playing well. They can put a lot of points up on the board and they have a little bit of everything, said Thibodeau, who tied the record for most wins by a first-year NBA head coach. We had a pretty good regular season.
All-Star point guard Derrick Rose agreed, referencing the Bulls loss to the Pacers the last time the two squads played, an overtime loss in Indiana.
They play together, they play hard, said Rose. Anytime you play against a team like that, you never know whats going to happen.
Joakim Noah chose to focus on the elevated atmosphere surrounding the postseason.
Its just a whole different environment. Were playing for something big. This is what its all about. Your whole life, you dream about playing on the big stage and it doesnt get much bigger than that, said Noah. Everything is magnified. Its a different game, but weve been preparing for it all year. Were not going to change much.
The regular season is over with. We had a great regular season, great team effort, but as a team, I think we have to come into this, the playoffs, and just forget about the seeding. Just locking into Indiana and really focus on Indiana, respect them and come out, and try to beat them. We cant come in with the mindset that were a higher seed, were a better team. We cant do that. Weve just got to come and play, said Deng. Its a different ballgame now. Its the playoffs. Its zero-zero.
Deng, who will be matched up with Pacers leading scorer Danny Grangerwho made comments likening the Bulls to a one-man gang (as in Rose) and preferring to play Chicago over Bostonrefused to take the bait when asked about his fellow small forwards comments.
Im not that guy, said Deng. Its not about me and Danny Granger.
Hes got to back it up now. I dont think theyre going to shut down Derrick, but I guess thats their game plan, he continued. Comments made by one guy doesnt really make a difference about what were trying to do here.
Noahtypically less reserved than his teammatechimed in: Slow him down, then.
Its easy to talk about it. I havent seen too many people slow him down yet. Maybe he can do it, he added.
As for Rose himself, he appeared nonplussed when informed of his USA Basketball teammates opinion.
Thats his opinion. Ive got winners on my team, said Rose. Well be preparedI know Ive got other guys on my team that can play basketball.
Chicago won the season series vs. Indiana, 3-1. The loss was their only defeat by a division opponent back on March 18. Derrick Rose scored 42 points, but the Bulls gave up 115 and fell in overtime.
On Jan. 29, Luol Deng had one of his best all-around games and Ronnie Brewer threw down a poster-dunk in a 110-89 win.
On Jan. 14, Derrick Rose produced a double-double with 29 points and 10 rebounds in the Bulls' 99-86 win in Indiana.
Here is the schedule for the first-round series:
Date Time Location TV Game 1: Sat., April 16 12 p.m.
Chicago CSN Game 2: Mon., April 18 8:30 p.m.
Chicago CSN Game 3: Thur., April 21 6:00 p.m.
Game 4: Sat., April 23 1:30 p.m.
CSN Game 5: Tue., April 26
TBD Chicago CSN Game 6: Thu., April 28
CSN Game 7: Sat., April 30