If the Philadelphia 76ers beat a not very impressive Pistons team Thursday night in the last game of the regular season, and if the Knicks lose to the Bobcats…. Okay, that’s not happening.
But in theory it could, and if both those things happen the 76ers would move into the seven seed in the East and draw the Miami Heat not the Chicago Bulls.
The 76ers want the Bulls and second-year guard Evan Turner admitted as much to the Delaware County Times (of Pennsylvania) last weekend, via the Daily Herald.
“I think we’ll be able to compete well against Chicago and have an opportunity to win the series,” he said. “It means we’re dodging the tougher team. That’s what I think.”
Which really means expect the Sixers to take no chances and tank hard against the Pistons Thursday.
The Sixers are 1-11 against the Heat since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, and they have looked overmatched and overwhelmed in many of those losses. The Bulls took two of three from the Sixers this season but Philly actually had the better point differential, and over the last two seasons the teams have split their games. The teams have played each other pretty evenly.
But that belies the reality on the court — the Bulls not only have more talent but also execute within their system better at both ends of the court than the Sixers. It’s a five game series, one where for the Bulls it will be about finding their rhythm again before taking on Boston or Atlanta in the second round.
But in the world of crazy longshots, maybe the 76ers are better off with the Bulls.
The Bulls suffered a rough loss in Boston last night.
It didn’t get better afterward.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge – who played for Boston in the 80s – pleaded ignorance to any nefarious plumbing:
I think the idea that teams plot to shut off the visitor’s hot water is often overstated. Arenas have complex infrastructure, and things can go wrong on their own. Sometimes, the home team loses hot water, but that never gets remembered.
But reasonable excuses don’t make a cold shower in the moment any more tolerable.
Robin Lopez had reason to be upset from the Bulls’ Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.
This miss was all on him.
Dwyane Wade (26 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) was the Bulls’ best player in their Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.
But the 35-year-old guard clearly didn’t go all out on every possession.
Players can justify not closing out by claiming they were prioritizing rebounding position. Wade clearly has no such excuse.
The Los Angeles Clippers dropped Game 5 to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night, and find themselves down 3-2 as they head back to Salt Lake City for Game 6. The Clippers have had to deal with Utah’s formidable defense, so much so that they’ve built in counters to Jazz defenders overplaying shooters like JJ Redick.
One example of this countering method could be found in Game 3, when the Clippers ran a split cut for Redick. Instead of fighting endlessly around screens for a 3-point shot as you might expect, LA took the easy route and simply cut Redick to the basket for an easy layup as a means to take advantage of an overeager defender.
We’ve talked about the Split Cut here on NBA Playbook before. The Los Angeles Lakers used it earlier in the season to beat the Golden State Warriors, the team that uses the split cut perhaps the most out of any team in the NBA.
Other teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, have adapted the Warriors’ use of the split cut as a counter for their own offense this season, which is a testament to just how useful it is.
If you need a reminder, a split cut all about a screener coming up to screen, then cutting toward the basket before his screen action fully takes place. It’s about timing, and catching defenders off guard when they go to set up their recover positions for screens.
For a full breakdown on the split cut and how the Clippers used it, watch the video above.