CHICAGO – Everything worked out just as they might have planned.
Their big guys were rebounding. Jimmy and Derrick were scoring. For the most part, the Bulls were dominating.
If Tom Thibodeau’s team wants to pick up 16 wins for an NBA Championship these playoffs, they’d best follow the example they set in the first.
Chicago dominated the opening game of their first round series against the Bucks, winning it 93-81 at the United Center in a contest that featured many positives. They shot 46 percent from the floor, outrebounded the Bucks by eleven and saw an aggressive Derrick Rose scored 23 points.
Its happiness, however, that can’t really last.
Schedule makers make that so as just a 48 hour turnaround exists between that win and Game 2 Monday night so very quickly this victory disappears.
“I think our guys understand it’s just one game. We’ve got to prepare for this next one,” said Thibodeau on Sunday. “We can’t get lost looking at the last game.”
Not that it would be expected from a Bulls team that has a number of playoff-tested players who have their minds on the long-term. If anything the Bulls expect a more aggressive Milwaukee team to come out of the gates on Monday night especially considering the way in which the Bulls had their way on Saturday night.
“The intensity is going to pick up a whole bunch,” said forward Taj Gibson when asked about the effort he expect from the Bucks after falling behind in the series. “Every game is just more and more intense. It’s hard when you lose so you’ve got something to prove the next game. So we just have to lock in, have a strong mindset, watch a lot of film and be ready for whatever comes our way.”
What they do hope will stay the same is the play of Rose. After a bit of a scary fall in the first quarter Rose made his first playoff game in three years count not only with his 23 points but also his aggressiveness in driving to the hoop along with his seven assists on the evening.
Milwaukee was forced to due more to account for Rose and it opened things up for the Bulls. When the guard returned to the lineup midway through the second quarter the Bulls blew open the game and never looked back.
"It puts them in a difficult position," said forward Pau Gasol of opponents when Rose is playing at the top of his game. "Last night Derrick played well, played really well and it makes a big difference. Now they have to be more aware of him and they might be more concerned and aggressive with him defensively so that's going to open up somebody else.
"That's the beauty of our team is that we have so many offensive weapons and we can make them pay in different ways."
Like the rest of the team, Thibodeau doesn't expect Rose to read too much into the first game of the playoffs.
"He doesn't get to high, he doesn't get too low," said Thibodeau of Rose. "Just get ready for the next run. Just go out there and concentrate on running the team."
Should he do that again like he did Saturday, Rose will have a number of chances left to do so.