Bulls need more from Carlos Boozer
April, 16, 2011
By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com
CHICAGO -- Carlos Boozer answered the question before I had even finished asking it.
Are you even more confident given that Indiana played really well," I began.
"And we didn't play that well," Boozer replied. "You've seen us play all season. We didn't play our best game tonight. The encouraging thing for us is that we know we're going to play better as the series goes along."
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesCarlos Boozer had just 12 points and six rebounds in his first playoff game as a Bull on Saturday.
Boozer better hope he's right -- especially when it comes to his own play.
The Bulls prized free-agent acquisition was bad in his first playoff game as a Bull. He was 4-for-11 from the field for 12 points. He grabbed just six rebounds and committed five fouls and four turnovers. Not to mention that he got lit up repeatedly by Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough on the defensive end. If the Bulls want to go deep in the postseason, they simply have to get a better performance out of their power forward.
Boozer seemed confident that he and his teammates would find their usual spark that was missing throughout the majority of Saturday's 104-99 comeback win over the Indiana Pacers.
"It was one of them games," he said. "Calls was being made, could have gone either way. They went on us, that's OK. That threw off our rhytym a little bit, then we had to keep working the game, working the game, working the game. Then at the end of the game we were in a position to win it. And then [Derrick] Rose took it over."
Rose struggles with 3: There is no question Rose took the game over, making play after play down the stretch. But it has to be disconcerting for the Bulls to see Rose go 0-for-9 from beyond the arc. Granted, several of those attempts came late at the buzzer from long ranges, but had it not been for Kyle Korver getting hot and going 4-for-4 from beyond the arc, the Bulls 6-for-20 output from 3-point land would have looked even worse.
After noting again that Rose was his MVP, Korver made an interesting point.
"We've got to do a better job giving him more help," he said of Rose. "We can't just go iso the whole game. It just makes it really tough. He's going to wear down eventually. We want to keep playing for a while. But at the same time, he's so good, it's just like, 'Keep giving him the ball, keep giving him the ball.' There's definitely a fine line in that and it's something we're going to have to find in the playoffs."
Where's the second option?: That fine line with Rose is something the Bulls must find quick. The Pacers did a solid job of slowing Rose down at times, despite the fact he ended up with 39 points. At some point, somebody else has to step and help him offensively or the Bulls will be in trouble. Keith Bogans was never expected to be the answer, but he's got to play better than he did in 18 minutes on Saturday, missing the three open looks he took.
Defensive energy goes missing: The biggest problem of all for the Bulls was the fact that the defensive intensity coach Tom Thibodeau always preaches was gone on Saturday afternoon. The Pacers set the tone from the outset; the Bulls were the ones playing catch up.
"They pretty much got wherever they wanted to with the ball," Thibodeau said. "We have to contain penetration, and defensive transition has to be a lot better. We have to get back to their shooters a lot better. We have to be a lot more disciplined and follow the plan. One effort is not enough against these guys. They are a terrific offensive team. They have a lot of weapons. They spread you out and they move the ball. They are hard to guard, so in your mind you have to be able to make two, three, four efforts on the same play.
"When they raise up to shoot you have to challenge, and then you have to finish your defense. I thought we gave [Roy] Hibbert easy shots to start the game and that got them going. We did not help, we did not sink down, we did not block out and they got easy scorers.
Veteran center Kurt Thomas put it like this.
"We feel that we made a lot of mistakes out there," he said. "And that's why we're going to break down the film [Sunday]. Realize the mistakes that we made, make the corrections, and understand that those Pacers, they're not going to lay down. They're going to come out and compete for the rest of this series."