Sure, the Bulls' advertised plan heading into the final two games of the regular season was to play everyone and build momentum for the playoffs. But the realities of a condensed schedule won out.
The Bulls played Thursday against Cleveland, a night earlier at Indiana and are facing an afternoon game Saturday. It made too much sense not to play everyone against the Cavs. So Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kyle Korver got the night off.
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Officially, the stated reason was "maintenance." Deng and Korver have been nursing nagging injuries, while Rose is recovering from a sore right ankle.
"It's a quick turnaround. That factors into it," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said before Thursday's game. "We knew this going in. Basically, (the playoffs are) a continuation of the regular season. Normally, you'd have three days to rest and prepare, get ready. You've lost that."
Rose didn't shoot the ball well against the Pacers. But he did show some of his typical explosion toward the basket, which helped make Thursday's decision easier.
"I think Derrick is feeling probably better than he has in a long time, so that's a big plus and Rip (Hamilton) has got his legs under him," Thibodeau said. "So we've got to be ready to go."
Countdown to Sixers:
The Bulls went 2-1 against Philadelphia this season, but rarely had their full lineup together, so it's tough to base anything on recent history.
Carlos Boozer provided a good scouting report on the Sixers, who went 11-21 from mid-February to mid-April.
"Very versatile team. They've got a lot of guys that can play two, three, even four different positions out here," he said. "A lot of good 1-on-1 players. They're a team. They don't have one guy that's going to take 25 shots. They have a bunch of guys that can give you 15 (points).
"They're deep. They play well together. They're a fast team. They gamble a lot. They're a very good defensive team, they get a lot of steals and when they get out in transition, they're dangerous."
Scalabrine steals spotlight:
Brian Scalabrine got a few turns in the spotlight during Thursday's regular-season finale. Before tipoff, he addressed the crowd and asked fans to help bring the energy to the home playoff games, so the Bulls could "raise banner No. 7."
He scored the Bulls' final basket on a 20-foot jumper from the left of the key and had a good quip ready for the postgame in-house interview with Steve Kashul.
"I don't know if that was my last shot," Scalabrine said with a smile. "But it was the same spot (on the floor) where MJ hit his last shot."
Of course, Scalabrine was referring to Michael Jordan's jumper against Utah in the 1998 NBA Finals, not some shot with the Wizards.
Rose sells shirts:
The Bulls and Derrick Rose reached new levels of popularity this year. Rose had the best-selling NBA jersey during the past year, based on sales at nbastore.com and the NBA Store in New York. The Bulls were the most popular team as far as jersey sales.
The rest of the top five best-selling jerseys were New York's Jeremy Lin, the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Miami's LeBron James and New York's Carmelo Anthony.
Tickets for Game 1 are available at bulls.com. In accordance with recent tradition, the Bulls are asking fans to wear red to home playoff games. ... John Lucas III tied his career high with 25 points against Cleveland. The Cavs played without probable rookie of the year Kyrie Irving because of stomach flu. ... The Bulls won three games against the Cavs this season by an average margin of 30.7 points.