NBA Playoffs: Will the Bulls defense smother the Hawks again?

1 Comment

Game 2 looked like a Chicago Bulls game.

Their defense just dominated the Atlanta Hawks, holding them to 73 points on 33.8 percent shooting. Then turn Derek Rose loose, and if he can get 25 points — even if it takes him 27 shots — that will be enough.

The key to Game 3 really is pretty simple — the Hawks need to find more offense from somewhere. Anywhere. Do that and they stand a chance. But teams have been trying to do that for a long season now.

Last game the only Hawk who had success was Jeff Teague, the backup point guard who was dramatically underutilized during the season but has exploded in two games against the Bulls. He had 21 points on 14 shots and he did that by getting to the rim (he was 4-of-6 inside 10 feet). The Bulls will look to secure their game inside, but if Jeff Teague is the guy that beats them so be it. That’s not their primary concern.

Nor is Josh Smith so long as he keeps shooting jumpers. We’ve gone into this already today, but the Bulls are playing off him on the wings daring him to shoot. And he is. And he’s missing. The Bulls are good with that, Smith needs to attack and be disciplined.

For the Hawks, this is about Al Horford. He was 3-of-12 in Game 2, but he is their best player. He is guy who has to win this game for the Hawks. They’ll get points from Jamal Crawford because that is what he does.

For the Bulls, they need Luol Deng to keep getting them buckets until Carlos Boozer arrives. Not sure when that will be, the turf toe is clearly an issue.

The Bulls are going to defend like they did in Game 2 the rest of the way. Rose will be Rose. For the Hawks to really prove they can win this series and didn’t just get lucky and steal a game on the road, they need a win Friday night. And they need a lot of Horford to do that.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
Leave a comment

The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

Leave a comment

Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)

LeBron James blows wide-open dunk (video)

Leave a comment

J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”

Report: Raptors’ Delon Wright out a month

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.

Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.

The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.