Derrick Rose recently made the claim to ESPN Chicago that the Chicago Bulls’ only rival is the Miami Heat. More specifically, Rose downplayed the idea that the fellow Central Division squad Indiana Pacers are ready to be one of Chicago’s true foes in 2013-14.
You can read the quote below.
“People say that it’s a rivalry, but I don’t really see it. I say the team that is more like a rivalry is when Darren Collison was on the team. That one was more like a rivalry, but this team is a great team. They’ve already proven themselves last year by making it to the Eastern Conference finals.
“If anything, by probably in a year or two, it could become a rival. But right now, people say it’s a rival. … I just don’t see it right now.”
Asked what made the rivalry with the Collison-led Pacers different, Rose responded this way:
“I think it was more like that rivalry feeling where we knew, we thought that they were going to have that same team for a long period of time,” Rose said. “Then they end up going different ways, picking up different guys, and I think this team, I think in the next year or two, if both teams have the same teams, then that’s when it would become a rivalry.”
It’s understandable why Rose would feel this way. Over the last three seasons, the Bulls are a spiffy 7-4 vs. the Heat, never losing the season series. One of the wins was the landmark victory last March that ended Miami’s historic 27-game winning streak.
But Miami has evened matters in the postseason. In two of the last three years, the Heat have eliminated the Bulls in a later round of the playoffs despite Chicago winning Game 1 on both occasions. And the Heat have won the last two titles, a place where Rose and the Bulls want to be.
Plain and simple, Rose is wrong. Oh, is he wrong.
During the 2012-13 regular season, the Bulls and Pacers met four times. Indiana won the season series 3-1, outscoring the Bulls by an average margin of 93.0 to 89.0. One season earlier, Chicago won two of three games between the clubs by an average difference of 91.3-84.7.
In 2012-13, Chicago was without Rose and Indiana was without Danny Granger. When it was all said and done, the Pacers were the better team. So how is there not a rivalry between teams with similar geographic locations that play in the same division and conference?
According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Bulls and Pacers have met in 164 games all time, with Chicago winning 53.0 percent of the contests. The average final score has been Chicago 101.2 to Indiana 101.0.
Individually, Rose has played in 15 career games against the Pacers. During the 2011-12 season, when Indiana began to display flashes of the team it is now, Rose averaged 15.7 points on 37 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from the arc in 31 minutes per contest.
Not only is Chicago vs. Indiana a rivalry, but it’s one of the best the NBA has to offer. That’s especially true considering the Pacers are doing better than the Bulls.
That’s what the numbers say.
Last season, the Pacers went 49-32 and won the Central Division. As the third seed, they defeated the sixth-seeded Atlanta Hawks and second-seeded New York Knicks before losing in seven games to the top-seeded Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
Conveniently, the furthest stage that Rose has led the Bulls to was the Eastern Conference finals. That was in 2011, when they bounced the Pacers in the first round and the Atlanta Hawks in the conference semifinals but lost in five games to the Heat.