Posts Tagged ‘Luol Deng’

It really is a contrast in styles at this point. It was somewhat evident last year, but the Rose MVP talk mitigated the stark contrast somewhat. It’s pretty clear now though, the Heat are cutting a path of destruction through the NBA, they aren’t quite an unstoppable force and there are some dents in the chassis, but the Miami machine is a sleek one.

LBJ-Wade-Bosh still need to figure out who’s taking the shot in the closing minutes, but most nights it simply doesn’t matter. They can annihilate a team in 3 quarters and make the 4th irrelevant. Yeah, Wade is a step slower, but he’s still a top 5 player. He’s shooting 50% from the floor this year as a guard, which is pretty hard to do. LeBron is having a historic season and Bosh is finally doing some of the dirty work that Heat fans have been begging him to do since the free agency coup of the century.

The Bulls grind their way to victory. Every night is a seemingly maximum effort affair in which the Bulls outwork and outhustle their opponents. This was clearly evident in Monday’s tilt against the Knicks. The Bulls had significantly less talent on the floor than NY did. Deng-Rip-CJ were all hurt and the Knicks still boast a trio of Chandler-Melo-Stoudamire that should have been enough to beat the Rose-led Bulls.

Chicago works hard on the boards, Taj had a great hustle night even if his shooting numbers weren’t there. Rose had a productive night despite spotty shooting and carelessness with the rock. The Bulls grind, and even though the defense wasn’t great on the whole, they looked great in spots. Butler’s work on Melo was surprising and important. Lin was not shut down, but he was limited as the Bulls dared him to dribble with his left hand all night.

The Heat crush opponents with flashy play, the Bulls pound opponents into submission with tough defense and #1 shredding defenses.

Something’s gotta give tonight.

Pregame Music

[youtube http://youtu.be/2Q9WDaCVDe8]

Yeah, basketball is usually associated with Hip-Hop/Rap, but Bulls/Heat sounds like metal to me. I can imagine a mash up of LBJ/Rose highlights set to this track for some reason. I feel like it fits.

What To Pay Attention To

  • What do the Bulls do when LBJ guards Rose? Who is the second option with the gimpy unit they are running out there?
  • Deng and his wrist. How will it affect his defense and his shot. He can be deadly from the mid range, and if it’s hurting him badly, it could spell disaster for the Bulls.
  • Will Boozer get anything going towards the rim tonight? He’s the ultimate wildcard in all of this. If he can manage to have a decent stretch against the Heat, it could mean the difference between winning and losing. He’s in love with the fade away, and it needs to stop.
  • Will the Bulls use zone? We know it’s somewhat effective against the Heat, but Thibs doesn’t use it often. Theory is that Thibs wants to limit the tape the Heat have on the Bulls zone D, and Thibs generally doesn’t use zone anyway.
  • What’s LBJ up to in the 4th quarter? Is he being passive and deferential? Is he slinking in the corner, letting Wade carry the offensive workload? What’s underrated about LeBron is his clutch defense. He’s a bulldog on the defensive end.
  • What the hell is Thibs gonna pull out of his ass this time? The Knicks game was a coaching clinic with the cross match ups on offense and defense. Thibs is maximizing his roster in very interesting ways lately. He’s turning in another solid year as a coach.
  • Will the Bulls stop taking quick shots early in the shot clock? This is an issue against a team that loves to run, like Miami. Married to this point are the turnovers. The Bulls need to value the basketball to win this game. If they don’t it can get ugly.

The Edges

PG – Rose v. Chalmers

This ain’t close. Rose is clearly better than Chalmers offensively, and is fairly close to him defensively. Rose doesn’t get the steals that Mario does, but he plays the type of defense Thibs requires of him. Chalmers is a fine NBA PG, but he’s not on the level that Rose is. The Bulls have the clear edge here.

SG – Brewer v. Wade

Brewer is a decent defender. He has good length and he’s quick on his feet. He won’t shut Wade down, I don’t think, but he should be able to do yeoman’s work on him. I don’t expect Wade to have a big night, but he’s still dangerous when he wants to be. Brewer needs to find offense to close the gap. His game is inconsistent at best. There have been stretches where his 3 pt. shot looks solid, and then the arc on his ball goes flat and he can’t buy a bucket. Brewer is a solid finisher, but he’s no Wade. The Heat have a clear edge here.

SF – Deng v. James

Deng’s hurt. I don’t know how it will affect his defense, but we’ve seen what it can do to his jumpshot. The wrist is a serious concern, and you have to wonder how much he’ll want to test it against 275 lbs of LBJ. I think they have to force the ball Wade’s way early in the game if they can. Somehow. It’s unlikely, but it’s a thought. James is an absolute match up nightmare. He can defend all 5 positions on the floor, against the Lakers he went from defending Gasol, to Bynum, to Kobe. That’s ridiculous and scary. The Heat have a huge edge here.

PF – Boozer v. Bosh

Lord Boozington sucks defensively. This is not breaking news. I would put Jo on Bosh and let Boozer flail at Haslem for 25ish minutes and let Taj do the dirty work. Boozer needs to get moving to the basket more often, that jumpshot is going to get swatted by James more often than not. If Booze gets hot, James will guard him. I don’t see it happening, Boozer has difficulty guarding anything, and his offense struggles against height and size. And talent, can’t forget that he does poorly against talent. Bosh is enigmatic, but he can still put up good numbers offensively. The Heat have an edge here.

C – Noah v. Haslem

Noah is back to being the loveable grinder that we grew to appreciate. I wasn’t sure about him when he was drafted, but he changed my mind. Haslem looks much better without the braids, his game is funky, but all he needs to be is a solid interior defender and a sometimes offensive option. Noah is better, but if Haslem gets hot, it creates a problem. Noah can only guard one person at a time, and Boozer can’t guard a damn thing. The Bulls have the edge here.

Bench – The Bench Mob v. The Extras From Miami Vice

You know, the Miami bench is actually better this year. Battier is a good addition, Mike Miller is playing better, Norris Cole was a fine draft pick, but the Bulls bench is still better. The gap has closed a bit in this department, and it’s closer still with Watson hurt and Korver losing his jumper for spots, but this is still an edge for the Bulls. If Deng can’t play heavy minutes, the Bulls bench will be tested to the max. Korver and Brewer are not an effective defensive tandem. Jimmy Butler had a good game against the Knicks, but he’s still a relatively unknown commodity. Asik will be huge, ditto with Taj in this game.

Synopsis And Predicted Outcome

The Bulls are underdogs in this match up. The Heat have the better starters, and depth only matters so much. The Bulls will have to play a brilliant defensive game to win tonight. The offense needs to find easy buckets somehow, and it’s clearly not coming through Boozer. Rose can get to the rack, but for some reason he’s hesitant to do so against the Heat. Miami has a real ass team now, and it’s going to be hard to win this game. I do predict a Heat win, but it’s not impossible for the Bulls. In the regular season, funny things can happen. If the Bulls win, it won’t change much. Ditto if they lose. Perhaps they can find some confidence in beating this team, but it’s more of a hope than anything. I hope they win, I hope Boozer gets his head out of his ass, I hope Deng escapes with his health and I hope Rose gets over his “fear” of the Heat.

It’s gonna be a bitch though.

I’ve spent a lot of time writing about baseball games these last couple of months. It’s only natural. Baseball is my favorite sport after all. I don’t feel like I’m doing anyone a disservice by writing solely about baseball, but a little variety now and then can’t hurt.

Basketball is not my game. I tried playing it when I was a kid and found that my two main skills, free throw shooting and fouling other players, weren’t a recipe for a star hoopster. Subsequently, I only enjoyed it when winning or losing didn’t matter to anyone involved. I loved playing 21 and horse during PE in both elementary and high school and to this day still love the idea of just shooting a ball around, not that I ever do. At the end of the day basketball is just a fun game that I can’t take seriously. At least I can’t take it seriously enough to watch others play.

That’s why I love NBA Jam.

It’s a basketball game that doesn’t take the sport seriously. While winning and losing may be a personal matter within the game, there’s no season riding on it. There are no teammates to ridicule or be ridiculed in the locker room after a blowout loss. There isn’t a shred of remorse or hurt feelings when a game is over. Just another couple of coins dumped into the slot. There have been several games released with the NBA Jam name, and many more similar games of varying quality under different titles. All hipster douchebaggary aside, the original arcade cabinet is still the best version available if you can find a place that has one. It had balanced teams and it just sounds and feels right. Plus it had Shaq and Barkley so there.

When you play NBA Jam on the original arcade cabinet, you are playing a caricature of one of the most exciting and storied times in basketball history. It was a time when old greats faced off against young new stars, new dynasties were being formed as old standbys crumbled, the NBA was taking chances by drafting new talent from Europe and for the first time sent its top stars up against the increasingly tough talent in the Olympic games. That’s not even mentioning that Micheal Jordan had just forced his name into the world’s collective consciousness, whether they liked it or not, by winning his third consecutive championship ring and five MVP awards in the process. (Two regular season, three finals.)

So why is NBA Jam still such a popular game? How has it endeared itself to so many fans? What’s the magic? What’s the trick? The gimmick? What’s the secret?

For one, it’s fast. The 3 minute quarters blink past without a care. It’s really a testament to how great a game is when people don’t even realize they are being duped into dumping extra coins in a game due to a fast counting clock. Then there’s the gameplay. Through all the shoving, turbo passes, flaming dunks, and shattered glass you don’t even realize how much time really goes by or how many games you’ve played. You put in your first quarter, you play, you look up and your pockets no longer jingle and its been three hours. What the hell?

Another reason people like NBA Jam is the flamboyantly comical art style and presentation. Between the static player photographs put on what seems to be a single body that is repeatedly pallet swapped and re-sized, and commentary provided by Tim Kitzrow it’s hard not to smile while you watch and listen to the game. Everything is so over the top that there’s no room for rational basketball rules. I mean, how do you call a foul in a game where you can set the net on fire with a dunk? How could you allow the game to stop just because the ball goes out of bounds when any given player jumps higher than the rim? You just can’t. It’s an arcade sports game at its core and NBA Jam does it so right, there’s no way to really improve it. Even the newest version on the Wii, PSN, and Xbox Live is just the same game with updated rosters and visuals.

There is, however, an underlying theory as to why people love NBA Jam. One that is buried within the confines of sports history and the evaluation of what was happening in basketball between 1991 and 1993. The 1980’s were a period of rising popularity for professional basketball. Starting in 1979 when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson entered the league, star player after star player emerged culminating in a virtual renaissance in the NBA. The 80’s saw the retirement of some of the game’s most storied players including Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Julius Irving, and Walt Frazier. But while these greats were taking a seat players like James Worthy, Isiah Thomas, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullen, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and Micheal Jordan were easily making names for themselves in a sport that was fast becoming a contender for the worlds most popular sport. Basketball was clearly evolving and it would take a loss on the world’s stage for America to understand just how far the sport had come.

In 1988 the US men’s basketball team finished third in the Olympics. Third. They lost to Russia and Yugoslavia. What was happening? All the time the US was sending college kids to play in the Olympics in basketball the rest of the world was sending its best players to compete and they were getting better every year. The best players from the United States were in the NBA and weren’t allowed to play in the games due to their professional status. In effect, that gave the US a huge disadvantage. Sure nine of the players on the Russian and Yugoslavian teams that beat the American team ended up playing for the NBA at some point and with varying success, you may remember Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoc, and Drazen Petrovic, but that was no excuse. So in 1989 when the worlds governing body over international basketball, the FIBA, decided it was cool to allow professional players to compete the stage was set for something crazy to happen.

The 1992 US men’s basketball team featured eleven NBA players and one guy from Duke (pfft they couldn’t get one more?). Not only did they tear up the world qualifying tournaments, beating the six teams they played by an average of 52 points, but they flew through the Olympics with ease. They averaged 117 points per game and beat the opposition by an average of 44 points per game to win the gold medal that year. It was a great moment in sports history and The Dream Team is one of only eight complete teams to be elected to the basketball hall of fame. Combine that with basketball’s general rising popularity and you have a country ready to eat up anything basketball related. NBA Jam couldn’t possibly fail in at atmosphere like that.

NBA Jam represents a time in sports history where everything was on an upswing and a time in video game history when new avenues of game development were being explored. These two elements combined to bring about a classic game that painted a bombastic and flashy picture of American culture. One that I dearly miss and has yet to be matched.

Stay tuned for part two, The ghosts of Reggie Lewis and Drazen Petrovic.

Boomshakalaka.

The Miami Heat are the best team in basketball right now. They’ve managed to augment their talent with a modicum of depth. Shane Battier, a healthy Udonis Haslem, ditto with Mike Miller, Norris Cole came out of nowhere to provide meaningful minutes, the Heat have a bench now and that makes them deadly. It’s a forgone conclusion that the Heat will meet the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals once again.

That’s part of the reason the Heat are so criticized. When you add to a core that boasts 3 of the 10 best players in the NBA, you’re supposed to be unstoppable. The roadblocks that remain for the Heat are the same ones as last year. They have difficulty figuring out who will be the man in the closing minutes, you can frustrate them with a zone defense, and they have some difficulty with rebounding.

And there’s that really weird LeBron issue too.

Which of course brings me to Derrick Rose. I have no idea where the excuse of “That’s the proper basketball play,” came from, but it’s complete utter bullshit. The Heat were in trouble last Friday against a tough Utah Jazz team. Yeah, LeBron spearheaded an inspired comeback that came up just short, he was hitting ridiculous three pointers and taking odd shots from odd angles because, damnit, he’s the best damn player on the planet and he should be forcing up shots like that because he can hit them.

On the final play however? “I gotta pass to Udonis. Crunch time.”

Don’t even give me Kerr or Paxson. Those assholes were jump shooters, deadly threats from the outside. It made sense to pass it out to the top of the key when the defense was collapsing on you. LeBron is an absolute force of nature. No one is going to bother him much when he drives the paint. You can’t slow that down.

Look at Rose. In the waning moments of a close game against a tough Philly team, when the Bulls needed a bucket, who was throwing his small frame into the teeth of a pitbull defense that was looking to make sure that it wouldn’t be Rose who scores? Onesanity, that’s who. A stupid, ill-advised shot that makes you go, “NONONNONONONONNO!!!! WAIT WHAT!!!!!! YES! SHIT YES, YOU LITTLE SHIT YOU KEEP DOING THAT AND IT MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER GODDAMNIT!”

Well, maybe that’s just me, but Rose is the same guy that dominated a state playoff game and only scored 2 points. He can distribute and he loves getting his teammates involved. Remember early in his career when we were all begging him to quit deferring?

And then he did the damndest thing and quit deferring and became the MVP because of clownshoes ridiculous shot after shot that won the Bulls games? Yeah, it’s crazy but I think someone (Thibs) sat Derrick down and said, “Now, I know that you don’t want to step on any toes, but seriously, asshole, you’re passing to Bogans and Jo for jumpshots. Cut that shit out and just take it to the rack.”

LeBron needs that speech. Yeah, passing to Haslem is the proper basketball play, but everyone needs to shit on that stupid theory. Legends don’t follow the rules. They reinvent the book in their own image by throttling the game by it’s throat and making it bend to their will. “Oh what’s that? I’m too selfish? I’m only a scorer? Here, have some of this 35-8-8 up your asshole. And then I’ll win 6 titles.” “Oh, I can’t win without Shaq? Taste my asshole, I’ll win two more and solidify my legend. And I’ll do it by being a maniacal asshole who makes funny faces and takes a lot of ‘bad’ shots.”

The rules that dictate what is and isn’t a good basketball play are completely open for LeBron to reinterpret and rewrite. Bad basketball plays are good ones for him because he is such a physical freak. The man can do whatever he wants on the court, and if he’s going to shake off the demons, get the monkey off his back, he’s going to have to forget about that “good basketball play” bullshit.

Impose your will asshole, if you don’t, good luck getting by the Bulls.

[youtube http://youtu.be/-i51QLznR2g]
Goddamn that’s an awful shot…awesome.

The 61st Annual NBA ALL-Star game came and went over the weekend. Amidst all the Oscar buzz and red carpet glitz and glamor, did anyone even notice?

Seriously, who is scheduling these events nowadays? The NBA is fighting to regain its fan base and attract new ones simultaneously, and The Commish can’t even get his timing right? Good luck with that whole rebuilding process, Señor Stern. The schedule making powers that be failed to notice that Hollywood’s biggest night took place the same night? Really?

 

So many issues I have with today’s NBA. Lucky for me, the pros always outweigh the cons, and I continue to con myself into believing in basketball.


I heard they’re using this year’s game as a tutorial for young ballers to show them exactly what not to do when they step on the hardwood. Even Luol Deng, a premiere defender in my book, practically sprinted out of the way for Blake Griffin to obtain a perfectly clear dunking lane. C’mon, Lu! It’s your first ASG. Swat that shit to the first row! Seriously, the defense is absolutely atrocious. But you knew that before tuning in to watch. What I don’t know is how they got Thibs to patrol the East sideline with the game’s reputation being what it is. I was taking over/under bets on not if, but how many times Coach T would stroke out due to lack of defense. The West scored 88 points…by halftime (yes, that is a record). The Bulls have held opponents to less than that (in entire games) 18 times this  year! 


The West won the “game” 152-149 if anyone gives a shit. And Kevin Durant was the game’s MVP. He’s so slick.


There was a moment in the 3rd quarter when Kobe took it to the rim, and DWade fouled him. Hard. It was a shot to the nose- a playoff foul. I smiled a little. Actual defense. It was in apparent retaliation to a good defensive stop by Kobe against Wade on the other end of the floor. And then a little bit later, Kobe broke Mike’s all-time All Star scoring record. Damn. I guess I have to come to terms with Kobe being this generation’s version of the one we call His Airness. I suppose it’s better him than LeBron, he of the ringless, opportune turnover variety. A part of my basketball self dies with every MJ record that gets broken. 


Yes, the game actually came down to the final possession(s) and a little bit of my favorite elements of the game: defense and coaching. This reminded everyone watching why Tom Thibodeau is a master of both-reigning Coach of the Year-by ironically exposing LeBron, yet again, for what he truly is: an oligophrenic, overhyped failure when it matters. Why don’t him and overhyped, one dimensional forward  Blake Griffin just duke it out in the sky where they belong, making for a Dunk Contest someone would actually want to watch? That’d be one for the ages. Have Vince Carter, Mike, Dominique and Dr. J judge that shit. I’d watch. 

 

I’ve seen LeBron do things no other player is capable of, and I’ve seen him not do things a superstar of his caliber should be able to accomplish. Maybe he’s just not a professional winner.


And maybe The Flash is turning out to be more of a flash in the pan, after all. I like DWade because he’s a hometown guy, but for us to overthrow the Eastern Conference champions here in The Chi, we need his and LeBron’s weaknesses revealed in May. Too bad Thibs can’t be there to sabotage them again. Or can he? (Insert evil genius laugh here) 

 

When travelling, I often state that no matter how much I love a place that I happen to visit, I always, ALWAYS love returning home to my city of Chicago. I’ve been many places, many cool ass places, but Chicago is where I’ll stay, probably forever. I’ve got the flag tattooed on my arm and the lakeshore wind tattooed on my soul. I felt a similar sensation after watching the ASG on Sunday. I love watching the entertainment value of the game’s biggest stars. Despite all the hate toward it, the dunk contest is still cool to watch. The three point contest is timeless (still bitter about Hot Sauce’s snub). But no matter what (excluding Shaq and Penny in the mid ’90s), I’m never swayed to another team or out of town players. I’ll always bleed Chicago red and black. That’s why Luol’s limited run in his first appearance didn’t bother me. That’s why Derrick’s ridiculously massive shoe deal getting no talk from mainstream media all weekend didn’t affect me (you know if LeBron or Kobe signed that same deal, it would’ve been top news; difference being Derrick deserves every zero in that contract). Humility sort of comes with the territory ’round here, so when Chris Paul, Deron Williams, even Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook get mentioned as the L’s top point guards ahead of Chi Town’s Finest, we remember that it’s all about one thing: winning. That’s what we’re about in The WINdy City.

 

That’s why this is my kind of town.




 

You crazy son of a bitch…I see what you did there.

You fooled all of us, Mr. Thibs, but I”m savvy to what you’re up to, and boy was it glorious. Not only did you manage to rest Deng and Rose, but you also planted the seeds of doubt into the heads of LeWade, drawing up a last minute play to ensure that they fail.

Oh and you better believe that vision will be softly creeping in the Heatles heads as they are sleeping. Failure in the postseason is the final mountain that LeBron has to get over. It’s haunted him for years now, and while the Heat are far and away the best team in the league right now, the questions are still surrounding the Heat’s ability to close in important games. There’s really only one place to kill those doubts, and that’s in the finals.

Speaking of doubts…

You had to know that Kobe was going to trash talk LeBron. He tries to emulate Mike after all. Kobe dared LeBron to take and make that final shot, and LeBron passed it up and turned it over. Now, I get that this is an exhibition and it’s all in good fun, but in the interview afterwards LeBron looked like a man who knew that every single talking head, blog, and sports media outlet was going to be asking the same stupid question that’s been plaguing him for years.

To that, let me say this. You were supposed to be better than this, LeBron. It’s a mantle that was given to you, sure. But it’s not exactly a mantle that you shy away from. You view yourself as the Chosen One.

I mean, you can’t be complaining when people are calling you out for not winning. It comes with the territory man. This is the NBA, the best players in the league win rings. Lots of them. Rare exceptions come at the cost of Dynasties. Malone, shit, almost a whole generation of 90’s basketball players lost to Mike and Hakeem.

That’s the thing LeBron, you aren’t Malone, or Barkley, or Stockton, or Ewing. You’re LeBron damn James, arguably the most intimidating and freakish athlete in the history of basketball. You’re the freakiest player in a league full of freaks. Durant is 6’10 and you could play him as a shooting guard, and you’re still more athletic than he is.

Comes with the territory.

As for what the All-Star weekend meant for the Bulls, we’ll see. Derrick didn’t dance, because he’s not like that. He also played like 4 minutes. Ditto with Deng. I think we found out that Thibs isn’t a maniac. He understands what games matter and which ones don’t. I think that there may be a master plan to it all. He might really be the evil genius the Bulls need to beat the Heat, but it’s gonna be a rough ride.

Rose and company are definitely the underdogs in all of this. Noah’s triple-double was fun and all, but that supporting cast is inferior to the Heat’s. Winning a playoff series against them is highly unlikely, but there are a few ways that they can possibly pull it off I think. Getting Rip Hamilton will help, but it’s going to take perfect basketball and another Heat chokejob for the Bulls to get it done.

It’s not impossible, but it doesn’t look good. The Bulls do need to trade for some better pieces, because even if the Bulls sneak by the Heat, there’s another pain in the ass that’ll be waiting for them.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7-GuLCYA-E]
Oh Lawd, pass the whiskey.

[audio http://awmr01.podbean.com/mf/web/pxh9vn/Episode009.mp3]

 

In this episode we absolutely hate on Skullsplitter, talk some Cubs, some Starlin Castro, switch out to PBR, sent a shot across the bow at another show, curb our expectations for the 2012 Cubs season, talk Cubs prospects, lament the Cubs starting rotation, we time travel a little bit, we talk about the Blackhawks recent streaks,  we try to figure out which Chicago coach gets fired next, we discuss what John Starks is up to now in honor of Linsanity, we remember Slam Ball, we have an impromptu Celebrity Basketball draft,  Andy finally starts reading Moneyball, Andy and Raul think the Sox will suck this year, and we do a top ten most misunderstood athletes.

They’re being overlooked. Again. I guess there’s good reason for that. The Knicks have a sensational story, the Heat are tearing the basketball universe a new asshole, and the OKC Thunder are playing fun, aggressive, and winning basketball. Don’t sleep on the Spurs either, Pops has that team humming at the right speed.

That kind of leaves the Bulls out of the championship picture, oddly enough. At the start of the season it seemed a foregone conclusion that we would see a Bulls/Heat rematch in the ECF, pending the injury story late in the year. I happen to still believe this is the case, but for some reason, people are starting to forget about Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. They’ve become an afterthought this season, which is strange given the storyline that was developing all last year.

I mean, Bulls/Heat should still be the premiere match up of the East, but as Linsanity has taken over rational minds, people are overlooking the Bulls. That’s cool, write in the Knicks as ECF contenders, let me know how that works out when they run into a team that specializes in stopping the pick and roll, the Knicks only offense. I wonder who drills pick and roll defense over and over and over again until it’s second nature?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE7jx3E39S8] [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5x_aPyvrJs]

Oh right, those assholes.

Look, Lin is a good story, he’s doing some incredible things, but what gets overlooked is that the Knicks play absolutely zero defense, and Lin turns the ball over a lot. He’s scored the most points to start a career, yeah yeah, whatever. He’s also turned the ball over the most to start a career as well. That shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re matching the Knicks up with the Bulls and the Heat, two teams that defend pick and roll like a motherfucker. Especially the Heat. Because bad things happen when you turn it over against them.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pya4txb73sU]
have fun, you fucking turnover machine.

Which kinda leads me to my real question, can Derrick beat the Heat? Is 1>3? I already know that Rose is better than Linsanity, no matter what people want to start believing. The Bulls will beat the Knicks in the playoffs. The Knicks are still the Knicks, they still suck ass and need to bow at the alter of Michael every time they take the court.

Who's your daddy, and what does he do?

All Knick hate aside, they still suck ass and the only team that Bulls fans should be aware of are the Heat. We’ll probably get scared in the playoffs, the Hawks can be a pain in the ass, the Pacers are still annoying, the Sixers are getting that Doug Collins bump, but it’s still Bulls/Heat.

I don’t think it can happen. I’ve been saying this for awhile, but as much as I love Deng/Rose/Noah the Bulls don’t match up well with the Heat. Deng can’t cover LeBron, nobody can. Wade is a bitch of a match up, Bosh will eat up whoever is on him, it’s not looking too good for the Bulls. Chicago will have to execute a perfect defensive game plan to compete with the Heat, and even that might not be enough. The fan in me rebels against the notion that the Bulls can’t beat the Heat, but my head refuses to go along with my heart.

I’ll be rooting hard for the Bulls, I always do, but I’m not very optimistic that 1>3.

Don’t panic, Bulls are slowly righting the ship.

This play is ridiculous. Derrick Rose is used to playing against men taller and bigger than he is, this is a playground layup, crafted on concrete courts, perfected against men whose defense was to hit hard and often, and finally being showcased on the big stage in the NBA.

Rose has playground game infused with collegiate fundamentals. He isn’t out of control, even if it looks like that often. He’s fucking fast, and that’s probably the best way to describe the 6’4 demon in sneakers. I can’t fathom what it must feel like to have total command of the court like Rose does. He seemingly gets to the rack at will, imposing NBA trees be damned.

His back spasms flared up again, and that will be an issue for the next couple of days, but the Bulls will be fine. This is about a deep playoff run, not a few regular season victories to pad the victory total. It’s not even really about home court advantage either, the Bulls had that last year and it didn’t help them much againss the Heat. No, it’s about avoiding the Heat as long as possible.

The Heat are kind of a bitch. They’re playing an oddly poetic brand of violent, aggressive, rim rattling basketball, the likes of which have never been seen. This isn’t Showtime, this is Showtime’s evil, ‘roided up cousin who drives the black camaro and listens to Sabbath.

Deng is pretty awesome, and you should start to appreciate him more.

I'm putting you on noitce, asshole.

The team looks completely different when Deng is out there, the rotations are different, the defense is different, the offense is different, Deng makes everything better.

I mean, it is a small sample size, but the Bulls looked lost on offense without him. Derrick went into “I’m going to do everything now.” mode as the rest of the team looked on in awe and forgot they had to contribute on the offensive end. They’ve blown out two opponents since Deng has returned, and it’s passed the eye test as well.

Fuck the Knicks

Overrated pieces of shit

Truth.

They were supposed to be Miami Heat pt. 2. fuck em, the Mecca of basketball hasn’t won shit since 1973, and they aren’t going to win it this year. Coach Pringles is fired, and I’m glad the Bulls didn’t hire him when they were looking for a coach. I mean, it lead to a few years of Vinny, but I’ll take the hair over the ‘stache any day.

Besides, the important part here is that the Knicks suck after trying to copy another business model. ‘Melo is an enigma, and I’m glad D’Antoni hasn’t solved it.

Stop pissing Derrick off. He doesn’t like it.


Man, the United Center was loud that night.

When he was a rookie, Brandon Jennings scored 50 pts. in a game once. Did you know that? I remember it because people started asking if Jennings was better than Rose. It was stupid then, and it’s stupid now, and Rose will always take the opportunity to show you exactly why. He doesn’t forget. If you disrespect him, he’s coming after you. Rose is a silent assassin. I would stop pissing him off. Immediately.

Gimme dat Jo!

Yeah, you jelly.

As Terry wrote, Jo is back! He’s been more active lately and his defense has been outstanding over this recent run of success. Jo is important, he can’t be tired and lazy if he’s going to have any worth to this team. His passing from the top of the key is a big part of the Bulls offense.

Moving forward, if the Bulls are going to beat the Heat, they need all their parts running at as close to full capacity as the season will allow. Their best player is 6’4, the Heat’s best player is 6’8. That’s a problem, because LeBron can guard Derrick and shut his ass down. Teams are starting to trap Derrick when he brings the ball up the court, it’s a pain in the ass mainly, but for the Heat, it’ll be a useful weapon.

 

In lieu of a Bulls Week in Review, here is a recap of the very entertaining Bulls-Heat matchup.

It was an expected outcome. The Heat are better than the Bulls right now, and with Deng sitting on the sidelines the 97-93 final score was pretty indicative of how the game felt. It was extremely close, but always out of reach for the Bulls, until the 4th quarter. A myth is building in Chicago, centered around #1. Rose is certainly more than willing to carry a team to victory, and he’s put together an impressive body of work showcasing the ability to will a team to victory. On Sunday, however, his two costly misses at the free throw stripe erased all of his hard work. The Bulls were kept at an arm’s length, but Rose’s ability to split double teams, penetrate the lane, hit layups and get to the free throw line were the grand equalizer.

Rose scored 34 points for the Bulls. Chicago’s next highest scorer was Rip Hamilton with 11. That is an issue. While Miami was showcasing it’s high flying offensive style the Bulls were once again grinding possessions and exerting maximum effort on offense to get a shot off. Those possessions usually ended in Rose driving the lane and forcing contact before getting a shot off. Rose was 12-14 from the charity stripe, Noah shot the second most free throws on the team with 6.

This style of offensive play will suck the energy out of the defensive side of the ball. Miami didn’t shoot a great percentage but they got to the FT line 40 times (compared to 28 for the Bulls) as tired legs tend to commit tired fouls. The Bulls did a great job on the isolation offense the Heat run out there in crunch time, but the Bulls supposed advantage in rebounding wasn’t there, they were actually out-rebounded by Miami 48-47. This is an issue. The Bulls did a good job on the first shot, but failed to limit the offensive rebounds, the Heat pulled in 12 of those. Miami will make you pay for giving them the second shot.

As for the free throws, those two misses were reminiscent of Derrick Rose in a Memphis Uniform. Rose has worked on his free throws since coming into the league. He was a 75-76% foul shooter his first two years in the league, he’s increased that number to 86%.

College basketball is only good when it's future pro vs. future pro.

Those two misses were killer. The Bulls had the chance to tie or take the lead with under a minute left in the game and Rose bricked both free throws. Now, LeBron then missed two of his own in the following possession, doing nothing to assuage the belief that he is not a clutch player, but Mario Chalmers put the Bulls away with two made foul shots. It was reminiscent of 2007 when Chalmers hit a clutch shot and Rose bricked some free throws. This is something that will eat at Rose for awhile, he enjoys taking the challenge up. He also has a long memory and will not be forgetting this loss for awhile.

The Dengless Bulls did prove something in defeat, and that’s the ability to beat the Heat. With Deng the Bulls would have a good jump shooter out there to stretch the floor, taking pressure off Rose/Hamilton to score, and one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. The open looks in the lane for LeBron would be tougher to get, and the job Rip’s length did on Wade defensively was something to be optimistic about. Bosh is still a problem, but ideally with Deng out there you can rotate Noah on Bosh and let Boozer handle Anthony/Haslem. Perhaps the Bulls have the blueprint, when they were down 11 the Bulls switched to a zone defense for the first time that I can remember and reeled the Heat back in. Miami’s isolation game was ineffective late in the 4th quarter as well.

Moving forward the Bulls and the Heat will have 3 more regular season showdown before they meet in the Playoffs. And they will be in the ECF pending a major miracle/tragedy for either team. The Bulls lost the game, but it’s not hopeless anymore. They can hang with the Heat without their second best player. With Deng, they can possibly even beat them.

2012 is clearly the year that everyone gets hurt in the NBA. Stern can only blame himself and the player’s union for the rash of injuries that is currently overtaking the league. This is a funky NBA season, and nothing really shows that more than legit concerns in Golden State over the Kwame Brown injury.

So it would fit to form that our own Bullies would run into a rash of injuries that would severely cripple the team and flush them out of first place in the conference. Except that it didn’t…because the Bulls are very deep.

Think about it, Scal is getting meaningful burn, Asik started and played 39 minutes in a game, Rose missed 5 games in a row, Luol Deng went down with an injury, Korver was asked to play serious defense on players faster than he is, Boozer was playing center, half the frontcourt twisted their ankle, seemingly on the same play, and through it all the Bulls collectively shrugged and won 4 out of 5 games.

That’s not normal. You aren’t supposed to lose half your team and thrive. The schedule definitely helped, the Bulls ran through Charlotte, Cleveland and Phoenix before getting Rose back for the recent Nets game. It also was a relaxed schedule, or as relaxed as this NBA season will allow. There was only one back to back thrown in there.

Yet, there the Bulls sit, atop the conference and undefeated at home, poised to once again snatch that one seed. Honestly, it all hinges on the Luol Deng injury. #9 is the best defender the Bulls have, he is a perfect cog in the Thibs defensive machine. Deng is also a reliable 3rd scoring option, and his jumpshot does have the tendency of loosening up the defense in the paint allowing Rose to drive in and play 21 with the opposing team. Deng has a wrist injury, he doesn’t expect to miss any significant time unless he opts for surgery, and that should concern Bulls fans. If this guy is out for a few months, the Bulls are in a tough spot.

The MVP is already playing through turf toe (that they won’t ever say is turf toe), and you’ll be taking away Thib’s blankie. Carlos Boozer can make all the sweet love to undersized PF’s that he wants, his offense will not be covering for the loss of Deng’s defense. It will manifest itself in very subtle ways. Brewer does a good job at the 3, but he’s not 6’9 like Deng is. The Bulls have thrived so far, and they are an elite NBA team, but the Deng/Rose combo is important in Chicago, and the injury to Deng hurts. It’s a rough season, and our iron man is finally missing time. It’ll be interesting to see how the Bulls respond to his absence.