Sunday, May 6, 2007

Um, That Was Easy

Last night at the Palace, the Pistons pretty much ran the Chicago Bulls off the court, taking game 1 95-69 in a game that was never really in doubt. Chauncey and Rip each scored 20, and five Pistons scored in double figures, but the real story was the tenacious defense of Detroit. Chicago never scored more than 23 points in a quarter, and only managed 12 (twelve!) points in the fourth as the Pistons pulled away and made the game laughable. Only two Bulls finished in double figures, and Detroit forced 22 turnovers while holding Chicago to 32.9% shooting.

The bench also came up big, with Jason Maxiell leading the charge, scoring 12 points on 5-6 shooting and pulling down 6 rebounds and Antonio McDyess (6 points, 10 rebounds), Carlos Delfino (6 points), Lindsey Hunter (6 assists, 3 steals) and Flip Murray (2 assists) all contributing as well.

Detroit's defense suffocated the Bulls, not allowing them to get many open looks or open lanes to the basket. Luol Deng, who led the Bulls with 18 points, was only 7-16 from the field and did not get to the rim like he did against Miami. Ben Gordon, who the Bulls rely on for much of their scoring, netted only 7 points on 2-9 shooting and was hampered with foul trouble for much of the first half. The Bulls were quick to bring Chris Duhon, a solid defender, off the bench when it was clear that Gordon was overmatched guarding either Chauncey or Rip. As a result, their offense suffered greatly without their best outside shooting threat.

On offense, the Pistons were able to create a lot of open looks from the outside due to Chauncey and Rip's ability to get to the basket. The Bulls collapsed at any sign of penetration, and Detroit was able to shoot 8-18 from beyond the arc, many of those completely uncontested. However, for such a large blowout, the offense wasn't as dominant as one would think. Detroit only shot 43.9% from the field and turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 16 times. This actually bodes very well for the rest of the series, as Detroit proved it could dominate Chicago without getting the most out of the offense.

Obviously, I don't expect the entire series to be this easy. Detroit still hasn't gone to Chicago, and the Bulls will certainly be motivated to not be embarrassed like this again. However, this game certainly swings the momentum of the series strongly in Detroit's favor, and a solid game 2 victory may be hard for this young Bulls team to recover from. Maybe this series won't be as close as everyone (including myself) predicted it would be. Game 2 is Monday night at 8.

Mad Max Gets Nasty (Getty Images)

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