Eastern Conference Playoffs
#1 Chicago Bulls vs. #8 Indiana Pacers
Team sites: Blog A Bull (Bulls) & Indy Cornrows (Pacers)
Essential Reading on this series: Three part preview on Eight Points Nine Seconds (Pacers ESPN blog) on why Indiana can win, an overall analysis of both teams, and a look at more advanced statistics on both teams. Also check out SB Nation's storystream on the series.
Pick: Bulls in 6. Everything points to an easy Bulls victory that'll send them on to the second round. However, there is one thing that might hold back Chicago from sweeping their way to the semis; previous playoff success. Chicago has won as many playoff series in the Derrick Rose era as Indiana has won in the Danny Granger era--zero. There's no doubting the Bulls are the better team, but they could take time to gel and adjust as a group and pick themselves up to playoff speeds.
Certainly, Chicago's defense will win the series, but Indiana is a pretty good offensive rebounding team and very good at getting to the free throw line. Those two factors seem to always ramp up in the NBA playoffs, and can win you basketball games every now and then.
I'm guessing Indiana pushes them a lot further than people think they'll go before Chicago applies the clamps and moves on.
Game 1: Sat., April 16 in Chicago, 1 p.m ET, ESPN
Game 2: Mon., April 18 in Chicago, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3: Thu., April 21 in Indiana, TBD, NBA TV
Game 4: Sat., April 23 in Indiana, TBD, TNT
Game 5: Tue., April 26 in Chicago (if needed)
Game 6: Thu., April 28 in Indiana (if needed)
Game 7: Sat., April 30 in Chicago (if needed)