After playing a pair of close games in the "Windy City", the Indiana Pacers and the Chicago Bulls resume pleasantries in Game 3 of their best-of-seven NBA East opening round playoff series.
Darren Collison

Game three of this series will tip off at 7 PM ET at Conseco Fieldhouse. Chicago opened as a -4 point favorite on the NBA odds boards with the total set at 189.

The Chicago Bulls held serve on its home court grinding out a five-point win in Game 1 and a six-point decision in Game 2. One game went under the total, the other one went over and the Pacers covered in both instances.

The Bulls were disappointed they weren’t able to put away the Pacers, the only team that entered the playoffs with a losing record. On the flip, Indiana lost double-digit leads in both of the first two games and they need to let that go and take it a game at a time against a Bulls team that might be trying too hard to live up to being the No. 1 team in the NBA playoffs.

Collison questionable

A big worry for the Indiana Pacers is the status of Darren Collison who suffered a sprained ankle in Game 2.  He had 17 points and nine assists in Game 1, and had eight points in Game 2 before the injury and he’s one of the main reasons both games in the series have been close.

His quickness has caused problems for the Bulls who don’t have a defender who can keep with him. If Collison can’t go, A.J. Price will start and T.J. Ford will back him up. Ford has played sparingly this season, but he scored five points, including a 3-pointer from beyond half-court, in Game 2.

Derrick RoseThe Pacers will need to do a better job against Derrick Rose, who averaged 37.5 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the first two games. During the regular season he ranked seventh in scoring (25.0 points per game) and 10th in assists (7.7), making him the only player this season in the top 10 in both categories. The only other Bull to do so was Jordan in 1988-89, when he led the league in scoring (32.5 points) and finished 10th in assists. Rose had 36 points in Game 2 including eight points in the final four minutes as Chicago finished the game on a 16-1 run. 

Lost in all the MVP love for Rose and Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau is how important Luol Deng has been to the team. He’s played more minutes than Rose and is averaging 17.4 points per game. Chicago’s bench headed by Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson has been solid as has the rebounding. The Bulls had a 49-34 advantage on the boards in Game 1 and a 57-33 edge in Game 2.

Clean up your act

The Bulls struggled on defense in the opener and their offense was out of sync in Game 2. They committed 22 turnovers, six by Rose. They had trouble hanging onto the ball and when they weren’t coughing it up they were putting up bricks shooting just 38.6 percent.

High expectations

Few expected the Bulls to be pushed hard in this series after posting the league’s best record and capturing home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Their best season since the Michael Jordan era set expectations and anything less than a long playoff run would be a major disappointment. The Bulls have a 2-0 lead but if you listen to sports radio in Chicago it feels like 0-2.

A note to Pacers fans hoping for a sweep of the next two or three games. The Bulls haven’t lost three in a row this season and their record after even a single loss is 16-4.

Road Warriors

Chicago’s road numbers were outstanding (26-15 SU & 25-16 ATS) while Indiana’s home mark was less than eye-popping. The Pacers were 24-17 SU and 21-19-1 ATS.

The Bulls took three out of the four regular season meetings going 2-2 vs. the number. Chicago is 6-2 to the ‘over’ and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games overall.

Harvey’s Take: This game will be decided on defense. Take the ‘under’ with the first team to 85 getting the win.