NBA Playoffs: Bulls will improve in Game 2, can Pacers?

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The Indiana Pacers came out of Game 1 — where they led until the final minute and almost pulled the upset — thinking that they can play with the Chicago Bulls.

But can they? The Bulls can play much better than they did in game one — look for them to focus on tightening the pick-and-roll defense (especially when Tyler Hansbrough is setting the pick) and for Derrick Rose to be in attack mode early.

The Bulls took the Pacers best shot — literally, the Pacers shot lights out all game (10-of-17 from three, for example) and put up 113.7 points per 100 possessions, 13 more than the Bulls gave up on average — and one has to wonder if the Pacers can play any better. And if that was their best and they lost, what hope do they have?

The Pacers hinted they are going to start aggressively doing what the Bulls will see from here on out in the playoffs — trapping and doubling Derrick Rose to get the ball out of his hands.

We’ll see what kind of success they have — it’s easier said than done to trap Rose. But if they do the Bulls are going to need other players to step up in a way they did not in Game 1. Carlos Boozer had a quiet 12 points and he has to step up, as does Luol Deng who had a couple big baskets late but not much else. The Bulls bench also needs to contribute more.

Put simply, the Derrick Rose show is one of the best going in the NBA, but ask Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant — or just about anyone else — if you can do it all on your own or if you need a real team effort.

Another key will be how this game is called — both teams want to be physical on defense, but Rose’s ability to attack and draw contact and get to the line could swing this game. Like it did the first one, where Rose alone got to the line more than the entire Pacers team.

The Bulls are going to defend hard

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. It was a $72 million gamble that has not worked, and left New York with an anchor o a

Tomorrow it will be official he is done for the season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. But that is interesting.

 

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)