Bulls

Schedule released for Bulls-Pacers playoff series

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Schedule released for Bulls-Pacers playoff series

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Posted: 1:00 p.m. Updated 11:55 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

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:

Series schedule

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.
Indiana
CSN
Game 4: Sat., April 23 1:30 p.m.
Indiana
CSN Game 5: Tue., April 26
TBD Chicago CSN Game 6: Thu., April 28
TBD
Indiana
CSN Game 7: Sat., April 30
TBD Chicago
CSN-if necessary

Trust the Rookie: Wendell Carter Jr. draws Opening Night start against Joel Embiid, Sixers

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USA TODAY

Trust the Rookie: Wendell Carter Jr. draws Opening Night start against Joel Embiid, Sixers

In a five-game span Wendell Carter Jr. saw preseason action against Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic and Myles Turner. The 19-year-old rookie had his share of expected ups and downs but performed well enough that Fred Hoiberg officially announced him a starter for the team’s season opener tomorrow night.

His reward for all that hard work? A matchup against All-Pro center Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.

It’ll be an eye-opening experience for the Duke product, who just a year ago was readying himself for his first season of college basketball and a season-opening matchup against Elon. It’s safe to assume Embiid will pose a few more problems than did Phoenix center Tyler Seibring.

“Joel Embiid was one of my role models growing up,” Embiid said before practice Wednesday. “He was someone I always wanted to pattern my game after. Just to go up against him is a remarkable feeling. He’s a very physical player. He’s a very talented player. I’m going to be able to stack up and see what all I need to work on to last in this league.”

While it’s no easy task against a talent like Embiid, who was named All-NBA Second Team last season, Carter’s most important job will be staying out of foul trouble. Carter piggy-backed an impressive Summer League with a preseason that included averages of 7.0 points and 5.6 rebounds in 21.1 minutes. But those numbers also included 7.7 fouls per 48 minutes. He racked up 17 fouls in five games, and had at least three in each.

Embiid only went to the line five times in Tuesday’s season-opening loss to the Celtics, but that was primarily against Defensive Player of the Year candidate Al Horford. Embiid won’t face as much resistance against Carter, putting the pressure on the rookie to stay on the floor.

“He’s going to have to navigate that without using his hands,” Fred Hoiberg said. “We have to be all five aware. It’s just not a one-man problem with Embiid. We have to have great awareness of him and try and mix up coverages and hopefully make him take tough shots, knowing that he’s going to hit some of those. You just can’t get deflated when he does.’’

The decision was a mere formality – Bobby Portis will start at power forward – after the frontcourt combination played considerably better in the Bulls’ final two preseason games. Though Jabari Parker was initially slotted in at power forward following Lauri Markkanen’s elbow sprain, Portis’ impressive preseason forced Hoiberg’s hand. Portis averaged 17.0 points and 5.8 rebounds and shot 55 percent from the field in just 22.4 minutes.

“It’s all about combinations out there and we felt like Bobby gave us a great start with the way he was playing,” Hoiberg said. “And then we kind of changed things up with that second unit and put the ball in Jabari’s hands, so it was more that in trying to get guys out there with the right combinations.”

Lopez may have an expanded role if Carter gets into foul trouble early, while Parker will be the facilitator on a second unit that doesn’t have much in the way of a point guard. It’s anyone’s guess as to how the frontcourt will play out once Markkanen returns in roughly a month; if Portis and Carter continue playing well, Hoiberg could opt to keep them together on the second unit and put Lopez back in the starting lineup.

But for at least Opening Night – the Bulls also get Andre Drummond and the Pistons on Saturday – it’ll be the seventh overall pick getting his NBA feet wet with a matchup against arguably the best center in basketball. But’s it a role he’s earned, and on a Bulls defense looking for any sort of improvement, Carter is the player who can anchor it.

“His defense is always going to be important for us. He’s the guy that’s the anchor in that starting unit at the rim,” Hoiberg said, “and he’s done a really solid job of making perimeter guys taking contested shots when he gets switched off, or staying vertical at the rim and trying to make a big finish over the top of him, so yeah, again it’s a great challenge, great opportunity for Wendell.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Kendall Gill and Will Perdue to discuss all the need-to-know topics to get you ready for the season opener. The guys analyze how Lauri’s injury will make its mark on the early season rotation, whether Jabari will return to the starting unit or embrace the 6th-man role and why Portis betting on himself is the right move. Plus, Kendall has the key to unlock a “6th Man of the Year” award for Portis this season.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: