Tag: Eastern Conference Finals

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls - Game Two

Rose “damn confident” about Bulls chances next season


Don’t you get the feeling we’re going to be seeing variations of that Eastern Conference Finals for the next few years? Bulls vs. Heat. Miami won and they should get better role players and more comfortable with each other in the future — they will be better.

Derrick Rose knows that, but he likes the Bulls chances.

While the Bulls are considering moves of their own, Rose told our man Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago he thinks the team they have can do it.

“I’m damn confident,” Rose asserted. “Knowing that my teammates are getting better, I’m getting better and we’ve just got to go out there and ball out.

“We [Rose and the Bulls’ front office] talked a little bit, but nothing serious. It was too early,” he continued. “We’re good right now. I’m not worried about getting another player right now. If that’s the case, they would have asked me or told me something about it, but I haven’t heard anything yet, so I’m good.”

As he had done before, Rose talked about what he can do for the Bulls to get better. He thinks he wore down as the playoffs went on (having LeBron James cover him in the ECF didn’t help) and he is working now to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

“I think my conditioning was a big part in me playing the way I played towards the end, where I think I didn’t have enough in the tank and that’s sad to say, knowing how far we made it and how close we were. That was the reason why. Stuff like that, I never want to go through that again.

“If anything, I know that I’ll be prepared for it. Or try to be prepared for it. Like I said, working hard and trying to be positive,” Rose continued. “Of course, if our defense was a little better, but I wouldn’t have changed anything for myself besides my conditioning.”

With that kind of attitude, do you doubt the Bulls will be back?

Video: Best dunks of the conference finals

Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks - Game Two

What’s going to help you get through the end of Memorial Day weekend?

Dunks. Big dunks in big games.

With that in mind we present for your entertainment the best dunks of the NBA conference finals. Dunks that changed games or just rocked rims. Something to look forward to with the NBA finals starting Tuesday (you know LeBron is going to get loose for a couple, and you know Tyson Chandler is going to get an ally-oop over Joel Anthony).

NBA Playoffs Heat vs. Bulls Game 3: Advantage, home-court and otherwise

Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson

How many times do you read the word “advantage” in sports? It’s used so frequently even in the face of the obviousness of what it implies. After all, what makes teams “bad” so often is a lack of advantage, or a lack of willingness to exploit that advantage. Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks is kept from being an elite player by a reluctance or inability to access his inherent advantage on the floor with his physical tools. In the NBA there’s player, tactical, circumstantial, home-court, and intangible advantage, just to name a few. All will be in play for Game 3 between the Heat and the Bulls.

Player Advantage

The Heat have better players. That’s been pretty obvious from the first two games. There is no denying the fact that what led to the Bulls’ Game 1 victory wasn’t a superior roster, it was a deeper roster hitting on all cylinders, versus the Heat’s design of three players (Wade, James, and one other) playing to the best of their ability. If you rank all players on a scale of one to ten, with one being a D-League fill-in and ten being LeBron James/Derrick Rose, then yes, the Bulls’ final score will be higher. But if you rank all players on a scale of one to a hundred, the Heat’s total will be higher due to Wade and James both being in the 95+ range versus just one 80+ for the Bulls in Derrick Rose. Game 2 showed what happens when the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts for Chicago, and we just stack up players vs. players. This isn’t to say the Heat are a better team. They’re not, nor are they a worse team. These two are about as evenly matched as you’re going to find, a reflection of the Western Conference Finals which display the same trait. But the Heat have better players to rely on.

If Game 3 becomes a matter of “who has more talent” then the Heat win. We saw shades of that in Game 2, even as the Heat showed flashes of team cohesion thanks to Udonis Haslem’s spark. Conversely, if the advantage is defined by what group of players meshes together better, the Bulls have an excellent chance of stealing back homecourt. The best way for the Heat to disrupt the Bulls’ cohesiveness is with individual brilliance wearing them out, and the best way for the Bulls to combat the Heat’s elite superiority talent wise is to get back to swarming them with cohesive, communicative defense. And knock down a few shots, but that’s more tactical.


It’s safe to say many underestimated Erik Spoelstra’s defensive chops going into this series. It’s been a much closer defensive bout than anticipated. Were it not for some great efforts on the offensive glass by the Bulls, this series would be in dire shape for Chicago. That isn’t to take anything away from a sound gameplan of making up for their offensive deficiencies by creating extra possessions, it’s simply to point out the Bulls are still trying to find anything resembling a shooter’s touch. And that’s in large part due to how well the Heat have defended. Derrick Rose has been contained with multiple looks, and that’s prevented both of his threats. He hasn’t filled in with efficient scoring, and he hasn’t gotten teammates involved. When he has, they’ve missed semi-open looks, in part thanks to fantastic close-out defense by the Heat. That’s been in part responsible for the offensive rebounding woes (hard to grab a long rebound off a jumper when you’re diving out of bounds after running off the perimeter shooter), but it’s also helped keep the Bulls’ offense under wraps.

This tactical matchup continues in Game 3 with an added wrinkle. The Heat have shown their advantage in their reliance on LeBron James’ special talents, which means Tom Thibodeau has something to plan for as the game gets deep. It’ll be up to the Heat to either adjust with better opportunities for Wade and Bosh, or find new ways of creating space for James, who may not get as many ISO opportunities as he did in Game 2. It wasn’t a flawed approach from the Bulls to rely on Luol Deng who has played spectacularly against James in this series, but having seen James demonstrate that he cares not for Deng’s defense, the Bulls are likely to commit more resources against him.


How big was three full days off for Udonis Haslem, the savior of Game 2 for the Heat, coming back from injury and  having played long minutes in the Heat win? Getting the extra break definitely favors Haslem, as well as the Heat stars who have to take the most pounding in this series. To be certain, the time off probably helped Derrick Rose’s ankle as well, but with the way the Chicago offense relies upon more personnel for production, the extra hours were a good thing for the Heat. The time off also holds a mental advantage to a degree. A short two day break and the Bulls don’t have to concentrate on the fact they’ve lost homecourt advantage, nor does it allow time for the Heat to bask in their own confidence, which has proven to be their downfall time and time again. How the extra time manifests itself will likely go a long way in deciding who has control after Game 3.


Two things here.

1. The Heat are well regarded as not having a strong home-court advantage due to a docile and late arriving crowd as the fashionable South Beach crowd is not exactly the rabid jumping madhouse of OKC or even the raucous basketball-intelligent crowds in Boston. Some have even argued that with the way the Bulls’ fanbase travels and all the transplants in Miami, this could be an even more divided crowd than first thought.

2. The Heat have not lost at home in the playoffs.

That second figure stands out, considering they faced a Boston crew more than capable of facing down an opposing crowd. Furthermore, the Heat crowd has been surprisingly loud in the playoffs, even with the “white out” one of the more ineffective and lame promotions you’ll find.  So the home-court advantage isn’t as great as it is for say, OKC (who promptly loss home-court last night), but it is definitely an advantage for the Heat. The ability to sleep in your own bed, etc does a lot of good, and that comfort helps put the Heat in a position they want to be in mentally. On the other end of it, though, this is the Bulls’ comfort zone. Attacked, picked against, under bad conditions, struggling to regain home-court advantage in a hostile environment. If any team is well geared mentally to have their backs against the wall, it’s the Bulls.


Is Derrick Rose going to have three straight bad games? Is LeBron James really going to shed his non-clutch recent rep? Is Luol Deng really going to be contained this well? Is Carlos Boozer really not going to earn hardly an ounce of that massive contract? Is Udonis Haslem boing to be able to bring the emotional energy for a second straight game the Heat need? Has Mike Miller really become a “defense and hustle” player without a shot? Will Mario Chalmers play that terribly three games in a row? Will Kyle Korver continue to miss open looks? Can Taj Gibson possibly keep up this kind of performance?

And what about Wade?

There’s a mountain of questions that leave you dubious as to either team winning Game 3. Which is why it should be so much fun.

The advantage is clear, both teams have an advantage. Whichever has more or stronger ones will walk away with a Game 3 win.

NBA Playoffs Celtics Magic Game 5: Get ready to hear a lot about Kendrick Perkins and technicals


Perkins_techs.jpgThese playoffs had way too little controversy. Luckily, Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals supplied us with all we’re going to be needing for a while.

In the first quarter, Paul Pierce drove after a perimeter whistle was called. Gortat double fouled him and sent him to the ground. Kendrick Perkins reached down to help Pierce up, with Gortat behind him. Perkins slipped off Pierce’s slick wrist and accidentally elbowed Gortat, who of course thought it was intentional and slapped the ball out of Perkins’ hand. A double technical was assessed.

Okay, one bad T, no big deal.

Then in the second quarter, Perkins started doing his usual act. You’ve seen it. Perkins throwing his hands in he air and screaming, furious over every call. After one call, the Celtics center stormed away from the official, but threw an “air punch” and screamed an obscenity. Technical. That’s two. Good night, Irate.

Those technicals were Perkins’ sixth and seventh, earning a suspension in his next game.


It is very likely that one, if not both technicals will be rescinded, but before everyone gets too bent out of shape about it, a few things to consider. The Celtics lead the league in playoff technicals with 18 techs. 18. That’s a pretty clear pattern that the officials have to be aware of. The other question that needs to be asked is if Eddie F. Rush warned Perkins. If Rush just tagged Perkins with the second technical for no reason, fine, rescind it it was a bad call.

But if he was warned, that would change things. The Celtics tend to dance the line with not only complaining at officials after calls, but embrace a physical, punishing, bullying type of play. That’s going to go your way on nights when the games are called loose. But when they’re called tight, you have to respond.

Finally, there’s being in the heat of the moment, as the NBA guidelines stipulate is allowed for air punches (HT: Trey Kerby), and there’s pushing your luck. These guys are grown men, who are responsible for their emotions. Perkins needs to keep his head and keep playing. His team needs him,especially with the injuries the Celtics sustained tonight. It may have been a bad call, it may have been a bad tech, but it was still within his control to prevent.

Either way, I wouldn’t worry about a suspension if I’m a C’s fan. I’d worry about the Magic and how they’ve rediscovered their offense and intensity. The suspension will get rescinded. The Magic perimeter attack will not.

NBA Playoffs Celtics Magic Game 5: Stan Van Gundy has to be willing to gamble


Thumbnail image for Howard_blinded.jpgOnce again, Orlando, this is it. You staved off the monster, backing into a cave and swiping at its tentacles, forcing Rajon Rondo to the locker room, forcing Kevin Garnett into tough decisions (other than yelling and barking), and generally didn’t suck. Congratulations. Now you just need to do it three more times in a row.

Stan Van Gundy is often labeled with, and I’m sorry to apply simplistic adjective here but I’ve got little choice, the stupid moniker of the Master of Panic. Guys that panic don’t get their teams to the Eastern Conference Playoffs in consecutive years. But if panicking means overreacting to the situation, this is one scenario where SVG needs to embrace that label. The rotations must change.

Van Gundy needs to turn to unlikely and unconventional sources to give his team the best attack it can provide. Boston will likely be refocused. Rajon Rondo will likely be back to his werewolf-like self. Kevin Garnett may not miss as many open looks. So the Magic have to be willing to turn to alternative options if the Celtics are able to create the havoc they wreaked in the first three games. That means more time for J.J. Redick, Brandon Bass, and some looks for Ryan Anderson, and less time for Jason Williams, Mikael Pietrus, and especially Vince Carter.

Redick should be a no-brainer. The argument will be that you don’t disrupt the rotation and “psyche of your team” in the Eastern Conference Finals. No, you don’t disrupt the rotation and psyche of your team when you start the Eastern Conference Finals. Down 3-1 versus a very pissed off Celtics team that annihilated you in the first three games? That’s when it’s totally fine to pull any trick you think will work out of the bag.

Redick is +21 in this series (via PopcornMachine.net), versus Carter, who is -23 .Even if you for some reason feel that after Carter’s complete quitjob in Game 4 (going 1-9, getting torched on defense, and not showing any interest in coming back in the game in the fourth quarter) he’s your best option, you can still give Redick significant minutes. Redick’s handle isn’t superb, it’s true. But he’s a better option to run the offense than Jason Williams, who has been a complete disaster. Jameer Nelson is ready to log long minutes, and switching to a Redick-Carter backcourt means you have your best perimeter weapon (when he feels like trying) and the best pick and roll ball handler in this series in while Nelson rests. This is the time for trying new things. Just because you caught the Celtics napping at home doesn’t mean they won’t bring the thunder tonight. You need lightning in a bottle to respond, and so far in this series, the Magic’s regular rotations have been cumulus clouds drifting past a peaceful landscape.

In the front court, the Magic may want to consider some unorthodox alternatives, particularly if Dwight Howard winds up in foul trouble. Does playing Rashard Lewis at small forward against Paul Pierce sound like a nightmare? Absolutely. But it’s not like any of your other options, especially Carter or Matt Barnes, have had any success whatsoever. Lewis has the length to contest Pierce’s pull-up jumper and the size to give him problems if he should drive. What happens for those stretches at power forward then? Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson. Anderson has seen no time in this series, due to his inexperience in both the playoffs and the system. Again, I would respond, “It’s not like the traditional approach has been effective!” Anderson has the size to body up against Sheed and the physical nature to combat Glen Davis, plus range to give both of them significant problems. Why have all this stocked talent if you’re not going to use it?

Then there’s Brandon Bass, who is quite the mixed bag. Questionable on defense, a definite spark on offense. Bass has shown at least a willingness to be aggressive against Boston which is more than you can say for several of the Magic’s wing players. Plus he has touch, which Dwight Howard has struggled with.

There are plenty of reasons to go in with what you feel are your best players and stick to the script that made you so successful during the regular season. But you’ve also got to turn to alternatives when that formula has been neutralized, tazered, dragged outside and left for dead. The Magic aren’t just up against the wall, they’re at knife point. If they want to see tomorrow, and another game in Boston (at which point you’ll see a whole lot of puckering from the guys in green whether they show it or not), they’ve got to be willing to try some new things.

Variety is the spice of life. The Boston Celtics beating the crap out of you for four quarters and you not adjusting? That’s the overcooked toast.