Tag: Heat Bulls

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls - Game Five

Scottie Pippen calls Carlos Boozer “liability”


Scottie Pippen was on fire Friday.

Not in a “that man speaks the truth” way so much as a “he’s going to get a lot of ink” way.

After lighting a fire with his Jordan/LeBron comments, Pippen spoke with ESPNChicago late on Friday and called out Carlos Boozer for his play for the Bulls in the playoffs, saying he was a key reason the Bulls did not advance.

“You can’t hide at this stage of the season. At this point, you have to be able to play through everything because if you’re trying to hide a guy or a guy is not performing for you, it’s going to show offensively in the playoffs and it’s going to be magnified … We all know Carlos did not play at the level the team needed him to and that that hurt them more than anything because they couldn’t rely on him.

“The flagrant foul, the pushing calls, the inability to finish strong around the basket. Now you’re a liability. We can’t hide you and now we have to take you out of the game.”

The flagrant foul in question was a swipe to LeBron James’ face late in the third quarter of Game 5. The Bulls had been up 11 but the Heat quickly cut it to 5. Of course, the Bulls got that back up to double digits late in the fourth quarter before falling apart. Pippen also took swipes at Joakim Noah for not stepping up in the playoffs. Notice that both of those guys were on the bench when Chicago needed a game-tying shot late in Game 5.

Pippen is right, Carlos Boozer did not step up with bigger and better games in the playoffs. Jazz fans would have told you to expect that. But Boozer also is not guy who can create his own shots, he needs to be paired with guys like that. The Bulls have one of the best in Derrick Rose but until they get a second guy who can create on the perimeter the Bulls will be vulnerable in the playoffs.

Who is MVP? LeBron shut down Rose during series

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls - Game Five

Versatility. It was the key to why Miami was able to defeat Miami.

While the Bulls had offensive and defensive specialists they tried to go with — Taj Gibson or Carlos Boozer? — the Heat could leave their best guys on the floor. And mix and match.

Like have LeBron James guard Derrick Rose with the game on the line. And according to ESPN’s stats and information, it worked really well.

After going 0-for-5 from the floor with a turnover when guarded by LeBron James in Game 4, Derrick Rose struggled against him once again Thursday, going 1-for-10 with two turnovers in Game 5. Rose shot 6.3 percent from the floor in the series when defended by James, lowest among any player that defended him on five or more plays.

Meanwhile at the other end of the floor the Bulls played good defense even though the Heat scored on eight straight possessions late. Think about the shots — Dwyane Wade hitting a contested three (with the foul by Rose), LeBron with a three to tie and another jump shot later.

What was the book on Miami? Make them shoot jump shots, just don’t let LeBron and Wade get to the rim. In the final four minutes Miami had one made shot at the rim, everything else was outside. When they hit the jumpers, there is nothing a defense can do, no matter how good.

The difference was the Bulls needed to score, but Rose could not shake free of LeBron. And the Bulls do not have a second option of a guy who can create his own shot. In essence, what LeBron did to Ruse shut down the entire Bulls offense.

Rose was the MVP because of how he carried that offense all season. But at the biggest moments, the better player shut him down.

LeBron James: From “Decision” to “Decider”

LeBron James Miami Heat

A year ago, the most stunning thing about LeBron James was what he decided. He elected to reject his home-state fans, spurning friends and teammates to join both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Chicago. He went on a nationally televised special on ESPN in a plaid shirt with a neck beard and said the famous South Beach talents line. With one overly-produced interview with Jim Gray, James changed the course of NBA history, wrecked his own public image,  and made a bold statement. “The Decision” remains his most controversial move to date, a defining point in his career.

But Thursday night, it wasn’t what James decided, but how. Against the Bulls in Game 5, in a hostile environment down 12 with 3:36 minutes remaining, LeBron James decided it was over. There’s really no other way to put it. Dwyane Wade helped, but in reality, it was James. James simply chose to win the game. It was one of the most stunning examples of a player simply taking over since… Game 4 when James did it and Game 3 before that. James brought out an arsenal in Game 5 which didn’t require veteran savvy. James didn’t use tactical advantage or take advantage of a mismatch. James was just better.

I’m going to invoke Jordan here. Do not leap to the assumption the comparison is whole. Michael Jordan won six rings and did it as the alpha dog and is the best player of all time, yada, yada, yada. This is like comparing Jordan’s celebratory cry with Kobe Bryant’s, or his mustache to fascist dictators. It’s a superficial comparison, not meant to intertwine the fire that makes Jordan the icon of basketball.

But the shots James hit in Game 5, the pull-up three-pointer on a hair-trigger release, the post-up fadeaway jumper, the barrage he unleashed? They were shots you can’t defend. They were just build on one player being better than all others. And that’s what made Jordan great, in the visceral.

You will hardly ever see a player take hold of a game like James did against the Bulls and shake it until all the money ran out. What’s even more stunning is James immediately came back and played to the exact same level on defense. Derrick Rose had no escape. When the game was on the line and Rose had the moment to seize and send the game to overtime and save the Bulls’ season for five more minutes, James blocked it (with a healthy assist from Udonis Haslem for freezing Rose on the roll to the corner). James intercepted Rose’s jump pass, a jump pass. He was everywhere, all at once, smothering the MVP and taking hold of the destiny he never did in Cleveland.

Yes, that will be the latest criticism of James. Why did he not show this effort in Cleveland? Where was this effort in Game 5 against Boston? Why couldn’t he have had this kind of heart when he wasn’t flanked by elite players? Valid questions all. (What is not valid is “Why couldn’t LeBron try like Derrick Rose?” Rose’s field goal percentage should show that sometimes effort without intelligence does not reap the adequate awards sought.) But the problem is that we’re a results-oriented society, and ten times over when it comes to sports. No one questioned Kobe Bryant needing Pau Gasol to win as the alpha dog or why Bryant couldn’t pass as exquisitely as he did in 2009 even if his targets weren’t as good. The result is what matters. And the results have shown that the best overall player in the NBA at the moment is LeBron James. Why? Because he chose to be.

The only questions left are how good, or better, James chooses to be in the Finals?

And, what does Dirk have to say about that?

Game 1 is Tuesday.

Barkley says Nike overprotective of LeBron James

2010 NBA All-Star T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam

In the ongoing feud between Charles Barkley and all things Miami Heat, Barkley has now drawn Nike into the fight.

Not that he’s wrong.

In the wake of fans chanting things at Barkley on the set and him responding with a finger gesture (a version of “you’re number one”), then Dwyane Wade backing the fans, the hoop legend and TNT analyst told the Miami Herald that LeBrom James has not said anything to him.

“These athletes today are all wussified,” Barkley said. “I’ve been saying LeBron’s been the best player in the league for three years. And I say one thing criticizing The Decision, and I get a phone call from Nike saying why don’t I like LeBron? It’s interesting how this [expletive] works. These groups today, if you don’t say 100 percent positive about their guy or their team, they overreact.”

Nike does tend to overreact regarding James. As evidence we remind you of the time then college player Jordan Crawford dunked on James and Nike representatives went around the gym trying to confiscate all the tapes. (No, they don’t get to ever live that one down.) They are protecting what they see as their next big cash cow.

As for Barkley and the Heat… what did you expect? Stirring the pot is what Barkley does. It’s a game folks, let’s not overreact here.

Winderman: Mike Miller gives Heat big thumbs up

Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat - Game Four

What has no thumbs and yet could give the Heat a grip on the NBA title for the next few seasons?

Mike Miller.

Still recovering from preseason surgery on his right thumb and poised for offseason surgery on his left thumb, the veteran swingman stands as an example of how much a player with a mere eight digits still can benefit the right team.

No, Miller has not been the star of these Eastern Conference finals for the Heat. That would be a take-your-choice mix of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and possibly even Udonis Haslem.

And he hasn’t necessarily even been the Heat’s best reserve, with cases that could be made for Haslem and Mario Chalmers.

But because all 10 of his toes seemingly are in working order, his ability simply to make it to the court for extended minutes has been huge in the Heat’s climb to a 3-1 series lead entering Thursday’s Game 5 at the United Center.

With Miller available as an extra wing alongside James and Dwyane Wade, he has provided a two-fold boost.

Foremost, he allows the Heat to shift James onto Derrick Rose, while still leaving enough on the perimeter to defend the Bulls’ wings.

Beyond that, he allows Erik Spoelstra to play without a true point guard. And when your true point guards are Chalmers and Mike Bibby, that can be a very good thing.

Further, with Miller one of the league’s best rebounders at his position, it also affords the Heat the opportunity to go more often without a true center.

The knock on the Heat, entering these playoffs, and rightfully so, had been their shortcomings at center and point guard.

At the close of Tuesday’s Game 4 overtime thriller, neither a point guard nor a center was within view, and that makes the Heat quite the sight.

At the start of last summer’s free agency, Miller was among the first players the Heat interviewed. Pat Riley and his staff were well aware that James wanted to play alongside Miller, which also is why the Cavaliers and every other LeBron-luring suitor had contacted Miller.

Now Miller, whose son, Maverick, is named after James’ manager Maverick Carter, is providing a direct boost to James’ championship hopes, as well as allowing James to make a few points at the point.

By next season, Miller might even come with thumbs attached.

For now, in his own way, he is doing plenty when it comes to James moving closer to securing a grip on that first championship ring.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.