Derrick Rose had no room to operate. The minuscule gaps in defenses that he contorted his way through this season have disappeared the last couple games against the Heat. There is no room.
Finally Carlos Boozer stepped up and gave the Bulls 26 points and 17 boards in Game 3. But that was not enough. The Bulls are down 2-1.
It’s not enough because Boozer gets his points in the paint or the short midrange. Right now the Heat are packing it in, focusing on Rose and daring someone to beat them from the outside.
In Game 1 they made the Heat pay for that strategy going 10-for-21 from three. In the last two games the Bulls have hit just 25 percent of their three-point shots. And as Tom Ziller pointed out at SB Nation, the Bulls only took 12 threes in Game 3. There’s no threat there.
Maybe the most obvious example of what is happening came with 7:55 left in the game and the Bulls down 5. Rose has Mario Chalmers on him and when Joakim Noah comes out to set the high screen, Rose goes away from the screen (and the big defender in Chris Bosh) and blows by Chalmers. But Dwyane Wade slides over and takes the charge. Why can he do that? Because his man is Ronnie Brewer standing in the corner, a guy who shot 22 percent from three for the season. No need to respect him out there, so pack the lane.
The Bulls’ only real threat from three is Luol Deng, he has hit 7-of-18 threes this series. Rose is 4-of-13, Keith Bogans 3-of-10.
The other threat is Kyle Korver (3-of-8 this series) but he is a shadow of the defender that Brewer is. In this series, the Heat are scoring 120.5 points per 100 possessions when Korver is on the court and just 96.7 when he sits. Korver bumps the Bulls offense up more than 6 points per 100 possessions, but it does not begin to cover what they surrender. (stats via NBA Stats Cube)
But Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau may have no choice but to go with more Korver, or find somebody who gets hot from deep, because if the Bulls can’t spread the floor and open up the paint Rose is going to keep finding a wall when he drives. And thee Bulls are going to keep finding themselves behind at the end of games.
Warriors say DeMarcus Cousins making “good progress,” will participate in part of practice soon
Don’t confuse this with “DeMarcus Cousins is almost back on the court.” The Warriors are going to be CSPAN call-in show host patient in bringing Cousins back, and a return date is still well down the schedule. There is no official timetable.
Cousins is, however, making progress and will be part of some segments of team practice shortly, the Warriors announced Monday.
“DeMarcus continues to make good progress with his rehabilitation program. After spending the last few weeks doing various individual on-court activities and drills, he will, in the near future, be integrated into controlled aspects of team practices, although not scrimmages at this point. Additionally, he will continue with his off-court strength and conditioning program.”
The Warriors want to keep Cousins happy but also know they don’t fully need him yet — they need him in the playoffs as another option to punish switches. Golden State needs Cousins healthy, back in shape, rust off and ready to go in April, but he doesn’t need to be on the court in October, or even by Christmas, to get there. Cousins wants to play, but as a guy looking to get paid next summer, he needs to come back right and show what he can do, not come back too early and damage his stock. It’s a fine line.
The Warriors and Cousins are moving closer to that line, but there is still a long way to go.
Report: Nuggets’ starter Will Barton out 5-6 weeks with surgery to repair groin muscle
Against Phoenix over the weekend, Denver’s Will Barton went in for a relatively uncontested reverse layup, but as soon as he lands he grabs his hip and goes to the floor in obvious pain. It did not look good.
There wasn’t much in the way of information from the team.
Will Barton has been diagnosed with a right hip and core strain.
The adductor muscles are traditionally called the groin muscles. It’s a series of muscles that help the hips move and are connected to the thigh.
That’s bad news for Denver, a team off to a fast 3-0 start including a win over Golden State. Barton has averaged 16.5 points per game and five rebounds a night in 27 minutes per game through the first three, and he’s been hot from three shooting 55.6 percent. Expect the defensive-minded Torrey Craig to get the bulk of the minutes with Barton out, but both Juancho Hernangomez and Trey Lyles could see a little extra run as well.
Draymond Green on Lakers-Rockets suspensions: ‘Garbage,’ ‘A little bit of a double standard’
“That was garbage,” Green said. “I’m never in favor of guys losing money. But I got suspended in the NBA Finals for attempting to punch somebody. Guys punching each other are getting two games or three games. I attempted to punch somebody, and not in the face, either.”
“It seems like a little bit of a double standard going around this thing,” Green told Bay Area News Group. “That’s just me, though. I could be wrong. I don’t got all the answers.”
Green received the lightest punishment of the four. The NBA agreed his offense was the least egregious. A simple ranking of each player’s conduct does nothing to prove Green’s point. This is just a matter of how to scale the differences. Even then, Green has a weak case.
Remember, Green wasn’t suspended directly due to his altercation with LeBron James. Green received a retroactive flagrant foul for the incident, and combined with his prior flagrants, that triggered an automatic suspension. If Green hadn’t already committed so many flagrant fouls in the playoffs, he wouldn’t have gotten suspended based on only the dustup with LeBron.
This really gets back to the earlier question: Why does the NBA suspend players? It’s self-sabotage for the league to keep good players off the court. Green hits on a good point about the extreme difference between suspending someone in the regular season and suspending someone in the playoffs. I’d favor enforcing (most, if not all) playoff suspensions during the following regular season. The league can still set its desired line without undermining the product on the court when it matters most.
Pace and scoring are way up, which has made the league even more entertaining.
A few teams — Denver, Milwaukee, even Detroit among others — have been very hot, while a couple of teams we thought would be good have stumbled.
Keith Smith from Real GM and Celtics Blog joins Kurt Helin of NBC Sports to talk about their early season impressions, and take questions/comments from listeners on Twitter. That means the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks even get some love. The Thunder defense… not so much.