They are, perhaps, the TWO most difficult things to accomplish in the playoffs, in professional team sports.
An 8-seed beating a 1-seed. And rallying from a 3-nothing deficit to win a series.
The Chicago Blackhawks are one win away from pulling off BOTH.
And their neighbors inside the United Center, the Chicago Bulls, had best take notice.
The Bulls are on the opposite side of the spectrum right now. The #1 seed in the East. And yes, at one point, they led their first round playoff series with Indiana…3-games to nothing.
Right now, it’s a 3-1 series, and I’m not suggesting that the Bulls are in danger of a monumental collapse. But there are reasons to be concerned.
First and foremost, the health of Derrick Rose. The Pacers have pounded on him for four games…and that pounding has taken its toll. Rose suffered a sprained ankle in game four, and has missed practice the last two days. He says he’s definitely playing in game 5, but he’ll need a pain-killing injection to do so.
Without Rose, the Bulls are not the same team. And even with him, they’ve had their hands full in this series. The Pacers have had 4th quarter leads in all four games. One or two plays a game go the other way, and the Bulls could be DOWN 3-1 right now…instead of UP 3-1.
There’s no better time than Game five for the Bulls to put this series to bed. At home in Chicago, where they had a league best 36-5 record this season. End the series in five, and Rose could potentially have up to a week to heal his aching ankle before the 2nd round of the playoffs.
Fail to end it in game 5, and look out! The Pacers will take all the momentum back to Indianapolis for Game 6, where they just won two days ago, and the physical pounding Rose is taking will continue.
The Pacers won’t be favored to win a game 5, but they would likely be favored in a game 6.
Very quickly, you can see how a potential sweep, COULD suddenly turn into a seven game series.
I don’t need to tell the Bulls how quickly the momentum can shift in a playoff series…
The Blackhawks already have.