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Chicago Bulls - Indiana Pacers | 1998 Playoffs | ECF Game 1: Pippen sets the tone

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Uploaded on Aug 7, 2007

After a rather easy path to the 1998 Conference Finals, Chicago faced Indiana in the playoffs for the first time. Both teams won their second-round series 4-1.

To the surprise of the Pacers and Larry Bird, who had just won coach of the year, point guard Mark Jackson was guarded by Scottie Pippen. A smart move by Phil Jackson, because Pippen was able to take away Jackson's low-post game with his height advantage and defensive intensity. Forced out of his natural game, Jackson committed seven of the Pacers' 26 turnovers.

As great as he was defensively, Pippen shot only 1-for-9 from the field for 4 points.

"I knew I was going to sacrifice some of my offensive game when we decided I was going to cover Mark today," Pippen said. "I told MJ that he was going to have to take care of the bulk of the scoring because of my effort on Jackson."

Jordan, however, had his own struggles and went only 1-for-9 in the first half. The trio of Jordan, Pippen and Kukoc combined for an atrocious 3-for-24 from the field going into the third quarter, while the rest of the team was 9-for-20.

Despite poor shooting by the Bulls, the Pacers led only by three at halftime.

"I totally lost my rhythm and started missing easy shots," Jordan said. "It affected my whole thought process in terms of aggression and looking for the shot. The third quarter, I was able to turn that around and become more aggressive and just think about going to the basket more. It worked out."

Jordan keyed a 10-0 run that opened the third quarter and gave the Bulls the lead for good. He scored 10 points in the period and added 15 more in the final 8 1/2 minutes after Indiana cut a 14-point deficit to 66-65. Jordan made 10-of-19 shots in the second half, covering for Pippen, who was scoreless after halftime, and Kukoc, who shot 2-of-11 and scored just four points before fouling out with 2:08 to go.

In the end the Bulls won, 85-79.

"We know this team has been built on defense," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "That's how we've won championships. By putting Scottie on Jackson, we were asking him to cover a much quicker guy. We knew his energy wouldn't be there on the other side of the court. But then again, that's why we have Michael Jordan. He was up to the task in the second half."

"They took a lot of things away from us that we wanted to do offensively," Pacers coach Larry Bird said. "The key was being able to shut down the low post and getting back to cover our perimeter shooters as well."

"Scottie and the rest of the Bulls did a great job of defensing us today," Jackson said. "They eliminated my post game, they eliminated Smits' post game. We basically never adjusted to it. Those guys are great athletes, world champions, and they showed why today."

"It symbolizes that our defense is the most important part of our game," Jordan said. "When we get the types of turnovers that we got tonight, it helps to ignite our offense. It also plants a seed in their mind that they have to be more careful with the ball and that affects their offensive game plan."

"Give the Bulls credit," said Miller, who made just 5-of-14 shots. "They did a good job of disrupting our offense. This is a series of adjustments. Now it's back to the drawing board and see what we come up with for Game Two."

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