Joakim Noah: Bulls can play better

Updated: April 21, 2011, 2:47 PM ET
By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Chicago Bulls have a 2-0 series lead over the Indiana Pacers, but Joakim Noah is convinced his team can perform much better than it has shown up to this point in the playoffs.

"I think we can play a lot better," Noah said before Thursday morning's shootaround. "Derrick's playing at a very high level, and I think that when they're putting two on the ball like that on him it creates easy offense for everybody else. And we just have to put him in a position where he can outlet the ball and be aggressive and attack because they're putting two on him so somebody's going to be wide open."

Derrick Rose is averaging 37.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game against the Pacers. Luol Deng is second in points at 16.0 per game.

Noah is hopeful that his team can come out and grab the type of early lead that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is always preaching about.

"I think that getting a quick lead is always good for a team's morale," he said. "We haven't been able to do that as of late, but that's what we're striving for. That's what's great about this group. We're focused on trying to get better, and it's always been about getting better. Just because it's the playoffs doesn't mean we can't improve on things as a team."

As for what it will take to grab that early lead, Rose isn't quite sure.

"I really don't know," Rose said. "All I can do is just come out and try to be aggressive. That's about it. If shots don't fall, or I'm passing to people and shots don't fall, all we can do is forget about it and play defense."

Trying to play better while experiencing its first road game of the postseason shouldn't be a problem for this Bulls team. Players actually seem excited about playing away from home right now.

"The crowd is going to be hostile," Noah said. "It's going to be a hostile environment and you've got to love playing in environments like that. It will be fun. It's going to be exciting. And you know they're going to give us their best shot. They're playing in front of their home crowd and they're a tough team. We definitely need to settle down on our turnovers a little bit, give D. Rose some more outlets, and I think if we can do that we'll be in a better position to win the ballgame."

The biggest difference in Rose's mind about playing away from the United Center is simple.

"Different atmosphere," he said. "Where the crowd is going to be crazy. Fans are going to be crazy. And the players are going to be energetic. I remember being an eighth seed coming back home, you can't wait to come back home. There's going to be a lot of hustle plays out there. It should be good basketball."

Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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