The Chicago Bulls are a trendy upset pick over the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs (if the five seed beating the four is really an upset). The theory goes that the size of the Bulls front line — Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson — can protect the paint and the Bulls overall defense can just grind the Nets down.
But what if that Bulls front line isn’t right?
Noah played 14 minutes each in the Bulls final two games of the regular season after missing four games in a row before that as he again battles plantar fasciitis — a painful foot condition that really only gets better with rest.
How much and how well Noah can play against the Nets could swing what will be a hard-fought series. Coach Tom Thibodeau talked about it to Aggrey Sam at CSNChicago.com. Thibodeau said he’s not sure Noah is going to go a whole lot more minutes per game yet.
“It’s a combination of how much can we play [Joakim],” Thibodeau said. “Whether he starts or comes off the bench, I think he can handle both and we have to maximize what [Joakim] can bring to our team.
“During the game, he feels fine. I think he’s hopeful that he’ll get better as we go along. It’s the type of injury where he’s going to have to try and manage it as best as he can. The one thing is, he’s doing everything he can to get out there. He wants to be out there very badly. Whatever he can give us is a huge plus for our team.”
The one advantage the Bulls have is that the frequency of the games slows down in the playoffs. The Bulls are off until Saturday, then the series goes Monday and Thursday. Noah will get some breaks.
Which is good — the Bulls do not have much margin for error in this series. The Nets with Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are the most skilled team, the more offensive minded team.
Noah looked rusty and limited in his recent comeback games. If that is the case against the Nets, Chicago could be one and done. Again.
Minnesota is everyone’s team to watch this coming season — Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggings, strong supporting cast, now all coached by Tom Thibodeau.
But they already were a lot of fun last season. Check out their Top 10 plays from last season.
This is the clearest sign yet that Chris Bosh is going to suit up for the Miami Heat this season.
The past two years Bosh has missed the end of the season with a very serious blood clotting issue. He has been working out, saying this week he’s hooping. He’s been frustrated with how the Heat have handled his health situation, including leaving this season hanging. But it sounds like the owner wants him to be ready to play — and owners get what owners want.
There are questions still to be answered: Will Bosh still be on blood thinners, and will he come off them on game days? Will there be restrictions on his travel? Will there be restrictions on his minutes?
But Bosh wants to play, and it sounds like the Heat owner is down with that.
The Heat are a much better team with Bosh on the court — he averaged 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, shot 36.7 percent from three and a true shooting percentage of 57.1, plus he had a PER of 20.2. He was an All-Star, but couldn’t play in the game because of the clotting issue.
With Bosh, the Heat are in the mix for a playoff spot this season. The question is, will they have him for the full season.
Carl Landry and Tibor Pleiss are going to get paid this year — they both had fully guaranteed contracts for this season.
But they are not going to be playing for the Philadelphia 76ers this season — both were waived by the team on Thursday. This was not unexpected. Both players salaries will count against the cap for the Sixers (they are still $16 million below the league salary floor).
Once they clear waivers, both players will be unrestricted free agents (Landry likely will latch on with another team for the league minimum, Pleiss may as well or could head overseas).
Landry will still make $6.5 million (fourth highest on the Sixers) but would have been battling for minutes in crowded and young frontcourt with Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor (among other potential players, for example the Sixers are high on Anthony Barber).
Pleiss is in the same boat in terms of minutes, he was acquired from the Jazz along with a couple of second round draft picks just a few days back (the Sixers sent Utah Kendall Marshall, who was promptly waived). That trade was really about getting the picks — a very Sam Hinkie move by Bryan Colangelo.
This didn’t move the needle much on the Sixers season.
This is a huge season — a contract kind of season of sorts — for Noah Vonleh in Portland. The team has an option on him next season (the third of his rookie deal), and to impress people he is going to have to earn minutes at the four in front of Al-Farouq Aminu, Moe Harkless, Meyers Leonard, and Ed Davis.
The Blazers have high hopes for Vonleh, he was a central part of the Nicolas Batum trade with Charlotte. However, watching Vonleh at Summer League — 12 points a game on 46.3 percent shooting, 8.8 rebounds a game in more than 30 minutes a night — he didn’t show the development anyone had hoped to see. He should have dominated at that level. He didn’t.
Now there another injury setback for him.
He should be good to go around the start of training camp at the end of September.
But he can’t afford a slow start in training camp (that set him back his rookie season). He needs to show what he can do from day one, or Portland is going to move on without him.