- Nick Friedell, Chicago Bulls beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls wouldn't discuss their first-round playoff opponent before the regular season was over, which meant they couldn't respond to an interesting observation by Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger until Wednesday night.
Granger recently said he would rather face the Bulls in the playoffs than the Boston Celtics because of Boston's championship experience and variety of weapons. As far as the Bulls, he said, "they go as Derrick Rose goes. If you make a concerted effort to stop Derrick Rose, you have a better chance of beating them."
The New Jersey Nets couldn't stop Rose or the Bulls on Wednesday as Chicago clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the NBA.
Fearing the wrath of coach Tom Thibodeau, no Bulls player wanted to say publicly what they felt about Granger's comments, but center Joakim Noah came close.
"All right, slow him down then," Noah said. "It's easy to talk about it. I haven't seen too many people slow him down yet, so maybe he can do it."
Rose tried to downplay the impact of Granger's comments.
"I think that it's going to make the team play harder," Rose said. "I think that's what we did when we played Boston a few years ago. We kept on hearing how they were going to run over us, [that] really got in our skin and we really wanted to play them very tough.
"But the Pacers, they're a good team."
As for Granger's comments, Rose took the high road while defending his teammates.
"My teammates, they're around me. I think we play good together," Rose said. "That's his opinion. I've got winners on my team and winners know how to win."
Could Granger's comments motivate the Bulls?
"I don't know who said that, if they haven't watched us all season," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said. "But we'll probably see those people soon."
When told it was Granger, Boozer just nodded his head and said: "I appreciate that."
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
The Chicago Bulls wouldn't discuss their first-round playoff opponent before the regular season was over, which meant they couldn't respond to an interesting observation by Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger until Wednesday night.