Does Bulls’ sweep of Heat this season matter now?

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The Bulls and Heat met three times in the regular season. Three times the Bulls won, a couple of close games and one pretty comfortably. Derrick Rose had big games, Chris Bosh struggled.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking that matters much now.

For one, the most recent of those games was in March and the Heat are a very different team right now. The amazing Tom Haberstroh explains at ESPN.

When you look at the Heat’s most used lineups against the Bulls this season, something immediately jumps out at you: None of them will play in this series…

Who was the center in the Heat’s most frequent five? Erick Dampier, a guy who hasn’t seen the court in over a month.… The next most used lineup against the Bulls features Mike Miller, who has been all but squeezed out of the Heat’s rotation. If Miller plays in this series, it will be only in cameos due to his battered thumbs that render his hands barely functional. The third most used lineup? Carlos Arroyo was in it.

The playoffs are all about matchups. The Heat will lean heavily on Mario Chalmers — their best defensive point guard — and Joel Anthony this series. They will dare the Bulls to make them pay for going small. (If Erik Spoelstra leans heavily on Mike Bibby against Rose, well, that’s not going to really happen for long.)

It should also be noted that LeBron James didn’t play in the first game and Bosh got injured and missed part of that first game. In another, Bosh went 1-for-18. while the Bulls may make him struggle, don’t expect that level of futility again.

One thing Bulls fans do want to try and take away from the regular season — Rose gave the Heat trouble. He averaged 29 points on 43 percent shooting — not the most efficient numbers ever, but the Heat are a good defensive team. When Rose was on the court against the Heat this season, the Bulls played better on offense than most teams did against Miami in terms of points per possession (just slightly, about 2 points per 100 possessions, but that’s still something).

This Bulls vs. Heat series is going to be fantastic. But don’t expect it to look a lot like the regular season.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

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Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

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Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.