NBA Playoffs: Whole lotta Rose for Bulls, but they need more

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Derrick Rose is going to try and make Tuesday night his signature game. He has said he plans to come out and be much more aggressive attacking the Heat’s double team.

It’s not that simple, and it will not be enough for the Bulls — they need more complete team effort on both ends of the floor if they want to even this series at 2-2.

Rose’s attacks will get most of the attention, so we’ll start there. The Heat double team that Rose talks about will not be that simple to break because it’s not a classic hard double. Well, it was for most of Game 1, the Heat trapped Rose off the high pick-and-roll, but he passed out of that and the Bulls knocked down their jumpers (and were 10-21 from three) and won the game.

In Game 2 the Heat started playing back, some, with more of a soft double. For example, Chris Bosh will slide along under the pick and cut off the driving lane and wait for Dwyane Wade or Mike Bibby to recover. Because of the length and athleticism of the Heat, passing lanes get taken away, driving lanes close up quickly. There will be no easy route for Rose to attack. But attack he will. When he does pass out of the double, the Bulls need to consider getting it back and resetting him quickly so he can attack more, maybe in some isolation plays.

The Bulls need to both knock down their threes and they need to finish better at the rim. The athleticism of the Heat players has caused the Bulls to miss too many layups and chip shots. That has to change. The Bulls simply need to start shooting better. They need to knock down shots to get better spacing.

The biggest thing for the Bulls will be on the other end of the floor — they have to do a better job shutting down the Heat. Miami seem to have adjusted to what the Bulls do, they have Chris Bosh making shots and LeBron as facilitator and they hit better than 50 percent of their shots the last three quarters of Game 3. And that is without Rose going off. As it has been all season, the Bulls win with defense first and so it must be in this series.

But this highlights Tom Thibodeau’s personnel dilemma. Carlos Boozer scored 26 points and grabbed 17 boards last game. But when Boozer is on the floor in this series the Heat score 111.7 points per 100 possessions, when he sits that falls to 88.9. A 22.8 points per 100 swing. But when Boozer plays the Bulls offense is 106.3 points per 100 possessions, when he sits it falls to 92.2. A 14.1 swing. So what does he do, play better defensive lineups that struggle to score, or score more and have defensive issues? The same issue repeats with Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver at the two.

The Bulls need to defend the best they have this series and someone — a superhuman Rose, a red-hot Luol Deng, but they will take anyone — has to pour in the points.

The Bulls know if they go down 3-1 to the Heat it’s all over but the Charles Barkley taunting. This is as close to most win as it gets. The Bulls will need the best of Rose, but they will need more, too.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.