The Chicago Bulls are up 3-0 against their Central Division rivals the Indiana Pacers in this Eastern Conference first round series of top seed vs. 8-seed. Although a quarterfinals sweep by the league’s No. 1 team would not have come as a surprise at the onset of this series, the Pacers proved to be a threat from the get-go. MVP candidate Derrick Rose and company have had to grind out these W’s, winning by only 5, 6 and 4 points respectively. The Pacers are a scrappy, skilled bunch but have yet to show that they can protect a lead or counter the Bulls’ desire and execution in the critical moments at the end of these games.
Dick Stockton, Jaime Maggio and I are getting ready for Game 4 at the Conseco Fieldhouse, where a little more than a month ago Indiana was able to best Chicago for their only win against coach Tom Thibodeau’s roster this season. In fact, at home the guys in Navy & Gold went 24-17 overall. The Pacers finished a distant second in their division, 25 games behind the Bulls. At 37-45 for the regular season, they are the only team in the 2011 NBA Playoffs to qualify with a regular-season sub-.500 record.
The Hoosier-town boys are not willing to count themselves out of this contest yet, but no team in NBA history has ever come back to win a series after dropping the first three games. Chicago would love to finish this series today with a win and rest while waiting to see which team emerges from the Magic #4-Hawks #5 best of seven. Indiana Interim coach Frank Vogel and his youthful bunch are playing for pride and respectability today. They have a good core of young players and pushing the Bulls back to Chicago with a victory would be a solid step toward future successes. Catch Chicago Bulls @ Indiana Pacers live on TNT at 2:30 PM ET.