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IC Cold Links: Rose's Ankle, Effectiveness Among Questions Heading Into Bulls vs. Pacers, Game 5

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Thanks to the Boston Celtics sweeping away the New York Knicks yesterday, game time for Tuesday's Game 5 between the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls is set for 8:00PM ET on TNT.

That's about all we know about Game 5 at this point. Despite four games of evidence to the contrary, I still can't set my expectations high for yet another monumental effort by the Pacers to hold down the Bulls and have a chance to win the game down the stretch. Seems like I just can't clear the 82-game fog of the regular season from my head.

At this point, though I don't expect a let down in effort from the Pacers. I guess I'm more concerned about the Bulls catching fire and kicking their game into overdrive when they smell the kill. That normally happens in a playoff series at least once, especially a 1-8 series, and it hasn't come close yet.

The Bulls will need everything they can get out of Derrick Rose to pull that off, though which makes the health of Rose's ankle a critical part of the Game 5 story, which we also won't know about until we see him in action on Tuesday night. Rose and Luol Deng have been playing over 40 minutes per game for the Bulls, so if Rose can't play his normal alottment of minutes it will have an impact on the game.

Rose has declared himself ready to play, but how effective he can play will go a long way in determining the outcome. A quick look at the numbers for the Pacers with Rose on and off the court shows that the Pacers are -7.15 Net Efficiency Rating (team point differential per 100 possessions) with Rose on the court but a +23.28 when he's on the bench. Those numbers aren't surprising but do signify how much the Bulls need Rose to stay on the floor and be effective. 

After the jump, plenty of off-day links on the Bulls vs. Pacers series along with talk of Donnie Walsh staying with the Knicks.