NBA Playoffs: Whole lotta Rose for Bulls, but they need more

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Derrick Rose is going to try and make Tuesday night his signature game. He has said he plans to come out and be much more aggressive attacking the Heat’s double team.

It’s not that simple, and it will not be enough for the Bulls — they need more complete team effort on both ends of the floor if they want to even this series at 2-2.

Rose’s attacks will get most of the attention, so we’ll start there. The Heat double team that Rose talks about will not be that simple to break because it’s not a classic hard double. Well, it was for most of Game 1, the Heat trapped Rose off the high pick-and-roll, but he passed out of that and the Bulls knocked down their jumpers (and were 10-21 from three) and won the game.

In Game 2 the Heat started playing back, some, with more of a soft double. For example, Chris Bosh will slide along under the pick and cut off the driving lane and wait for Dwyane Wade or Mike Bibby to recover. Because of the length and athleticism of the Heat, passing lanes get taken away, driving lanes close up quickly. There will be no easy route for Rose to attack. But attack he will. When he does pass out of the double, the Bulls need to consider getting it back and resetting him quickly so he can attack more, maybe in some isolation plays.

The Bulls need to both knock down their threes and they need to finish better at the rim. The athleticism of the Heat players has caused the Bulls to miss too many layups and chip shots. That has to change. The Bulls simply need to start shooting better. They need to knock down shots to get better spacing.

The biggest thing for the Bulls will be on the other end of the floor — they have to do a better job shutting down the Heat. Miami seem to have adjusted to what the Bulls do, they have Chris Bosh making shots and LeBron as facilitator and they hit better than 50 percent of their shots the last three quarters of Game 3. And that is without Rose going off. As it has been all season, the Bulls win with defense first and so it must be in this series.

But this highlights Tom Thibodeau’s personnel dilemma. Carlos Boozer scored 26 points and grabbed 17 boards last game. But when Boozer is on the floor in this series the Heat score 111.7 points per 100 possessions, when he sits that falls to 88.9. A 22.8 points per 100 swing. But when Boozer plays the Bulls offense is 106.3 points per 100 possessions, when he sits it falls to 92.2. A 14.1 swing. So what does he do, play better defensive lineups that struggle to score, or score more and have defensive issues? The same issue repeats with Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver at the two.

The Bulls need to defend the best they have this series and someone — a superhuman Rose, a red-hot Luol Deng, but they will take anyone — has to pour in the points.

The Bulls know if they go down 3-1 to the Heat it’s all over but the Charles Barkley taunting. This is as close to most win as it gets. The Bulls will need the best of Rose, but they will need more, too.

Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid lead Sixers past Jazz 113-107

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jimmy Butler had the sellout crowd chanting his name and singing his favorite theme song.

Butler scored 28 points in his home debut, Joel Embiid had 23 and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Utah Jazz 113-107 on Friday night.

Butler, the four-time All-Star acquired Monday from Minnesota in a five-player trade, got a loud ovation during introductions and quickly made an impression as the Sixers built a 16-point lead in the first quarter.

Fans serenaded him throughout the game and he got to hear the team’s “1-2-3 Sixers” theme song after the win.

“I already knew this crowd would be excited,” Butler said. “Now that I have them on my side it’s better for me. Y’all, we, have some great fans. Y’all have the catchiest song. I used to sing it in my head when I came in here.”

The Jazz rallied after a rough first quarter and the teams went back-and-forth in the fourth quarter. Jae Crowder‘s put-back after Ricky Rubio‘s stole the ball and missed a lay-up gave Utah a 107-105 lead with 1:37 left. JJ Redick tied it on a pair of free throws. Ben Simmons‘ driving lay-up gave the 76ers a 109-107 lead.

Butler then hit a jumper to extend the lead and drew an offensive foul, sending the crowd into a frenzy as Hall of Famer Allen Iverson jumped up to celebrate from his courtside seat.

“The atmosphere was amazing,” Embiid said.

The 76ers are 29-1 in last 30 regular-season home games.

Redick had 16 points and Simmons had 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Embiid scored 12 of his points in the fourth quarter after he played less than a minute in the third because he had four fouls.

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 31 points.

“We competed but we have to be smarter,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We had some mistakes where we have to think more. They add up against a team like this.”

After the Jazz made the first basket, Butler scored on a reverse layup to begin a 12-0 run. He also nailed a 3-pointer during that stretch as Philadelphia dominated early.

But Utah closed to 54-52 at halftime following Derrick Favors‘ alley-oop dunk.

Redick and Mike Muscala hit consecutive 3s early in the third quarter. However, the Jazz came back and went up 81-80 on Mitchell’s jumper late in the quarter.

“Up until the end, we made a few mistakes, but we played passionate,” Mitchell said. “Honestly, they’re a great team, but we had the game in the bag except for a few mistakes. I think the game just got away.”

 

Report: Rockets lure assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik out of retirement with ‘significant raise’

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After a slow start, the Rockets got assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik to come out of retirement.

How?

The usual way employers attract someone to a job.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Fertitta was alarmed enough to personally recruit defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik, who retired just before training camp, to return, offering what sources say was a significant raise that pushed his salary to a range that ranks among the NBA’s highest-paid assistant coaches.

Good for Bzdelik using his leverage. He looked like a defensive whiz last season, and Houston slipped without him. Of course, personnel matters, too. There’s no guarantee these Rockets – minus Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute – reach last year’s defensive level.

Bzdelik has been back around the team, but isn’t working full-time yet. It’ll take a while to assess his impact on Houston.

And good for Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta paying up. Fertitta is still trying to determine the right amount for him to spend, but the team is better off if he’s willing to pay what’s necessary to attract the most desirable coaches.

Charles Barkley addresses Draymond Green-Kevin Durant dynamic (video)

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Want to hear an entertaining guy address an entertaining topic? Here you go.

Trae Young: I’ll be better than Luka Doncic

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Trae Young and Luka Doncic will be forever linked by their draft-night trade.

The Hawks took Doncic No. 3 then traded down with the Mavericks for No. 5 pick Young and a future first-round pick.

Young, via Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated:

“The thing with Luka,” Young says, “he’s a great player. I don’t understand why it can’t work out for both situations. I hear [Atlanta made a mistake] all the time. Luka’s a great dude, and I think he’s going to be a really good player. But at the same time, I’m going to be a better player. Just because of my ability to stretch the floor, get others involved, I think I’ll be better.”

Of course, Young was never going to say Doncic would be better than him. But Young didn’t have to address this so directly at all. By going out of his way to make such a bold statement, Young puts more pressure on himself.

So far, both Doncic and Young have impressed. I’ll still stick with Doncic, though. Enough to justify Dallas surrendering that extra first-round pick? That’s a far tougher call and the one the Hawks will be judged by.

Young doesn’t want that leniency, though. He’s aiming to be better than Doncic straight up and unafraid to say so publicly.