Cavs

At best, the first round of the NBA playoffs were something to switch to during Cubs game commercials, and at worst they were straight trash. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul got a couples MRI, Stanley Johnson lost him mind, and Steph Curry channeled his inner Derrick Rose when he returned from an ankle injury only to SLIP ON A WET SPOT and sprain his MCL one half of basketball later. While we did see two oddly competitive game 7s, I don’t think anyone will look back on basketball in April fondly, except maybe Thibs.  So with that, round 1 is behind us and lets never speak of it again. We’re now into round 2 where two series may actually turn out to be competitive, and at least all of the teams that are still competing have a compelling reason to win, regardless of how you (or I) may dislike some of them (Cleveland).

Starting in the Eastern Conference, Toronto is fresh off their 2nd playoff series win in the franchise’s 21 year history, and ready to take on the Miami Heat on 48 hours rest. Both teams will go into Tuesday night’s game with nothing more than a shootaround to prepare so I would imagine the play will be as sloppy and bizarre as any in the teams’ round 1 match ups. Miami’s playoff experience, star power and hot shooting will likely move them on to the Conference Finals, but if Toronto’s DeRozan and Lowry can get back up to their regular season scoring numbers, they’ll have a shot.

On the West Coast, the Spurs/Thunder match up tips off the part of the NBA playoffs where you wonder why they even televise games in Atlanta or Toronto, when Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green are playing basketball a few thousand miles away. But Game 1 did not turn out to be the elite competition we had hoped. Instead, the Spurs played ‘as good as it gets’, executing flawlessly on the offensive side, and throwing defender after defender at Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, rushing and contesting not just shots, but steps. Before Monday night, I figured the Spurs (probably) wouldn’t score 73 in the first half of every game this series but that we might have to endure an under-achieving Oklahoma City team fall in less than 7 games, with their inexperienced rotation pushing Durant over the edge and out of town.  While I was preparing myself to adjust perspective and appreciate the impeccable and dominant Spurs for as long as they’re around, OKC made it interesting with a last second win over San Antonio on Monday, evening the series and reminding us just how fun the NBA Playoffs can be.

And then there’s Lebron. And the inevitable question – can he be stopped? Answer: No. Not in the Eastern conference. The Cavs have a 9 game post-season winning streak against the Atlanta Hawks which is the 2nd longest active streak in the league, coming up short only to the Cavs 12 game run over Detroit who they just swept. They may have to weather a few storms here and there from Al Horford, Jeff Teague and a Hawks team who won’t roll over as easily as last year, but in the end, we’ll still be talking about Lebron, the health of his teammates and their chemistry with the coach 2 weeks from now when they’re headed to South Beach or the great white North for LBJ’s 6th straight Eastern Conference Finals.

Last but certainly not least, prayers up for Steph. He’s poised to return in Game 3 of Warriors/Blazers, but his team is doing just fine without him. They obliterated the Blazers in Game 1 behind the smothering defense of fellow splash brother Klay Thompson, and a triple double from the pride of Saginaw, Draymond Green. They don’t need Steph this series, but they’ll want to be firing on all cylinders when they head to the Conference Finals, so rest between games 2 and 3 can’t come soon enough for the winners of 73 regular season games.

So that’s round 2 in a nutshell.    The playoffs are on the up and up, and the TNT crew is in post-season form. It’s way overdue but it’s here and it’s fleeting, so just like Chicago Summer, enjoy it while it lasts.

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Our Bulls are 2-0 and that is definitely something to smile about. Now, capsule I wanted to bring our attention to something a little less comfortable, sovaldi Derrick Rose and his current masked situation.

Blurred Lines

Rose has played two games and is still standing, search so his new protective mask is doing it’s job. Even better, he scored 18 points in the home opener and 15 points in Brooklyn on Wednesday. Despite missing preseason with an orbital injury, Rose’s explosiveness looks almost up to MVP Rose standards. We’ve seen speed, assists and even some spin moves. One slight hiccup, after Tuesday’s home opener against the Cavs Rose admitted he can only see out of one eye – hence his inability to make a three-point shot at the moment.

“I wish it was a blink, but it’s all the time,” Rose shared with the media in his post game interview, “Like right now, I see two of you.”

“When I’m out there playing, I’m only using one of my eyes,” he continued. “I close my left eye whenever I’m out there. So I just got used to it from practice.”

Looks like we’ve got a one eyed wonder out there. Or a pirate sans the eye patch. The blurred vision is a symptom of Rose’s recovery, but hopefully that doesn’t last too long. I’d be dizzy for sure with blurry vision, but Rose let us know “he’s a pro,” and he can handle it.

Even his new head coach has had a bit of fun with the situation,  “I think he sees three baskets right now,” Hoiberg said. “I told him, ‘Aim for the middle one.’ That’s part of it right now, the depth perception. It’s probably still a little bit off. He’s still out there working on [3s], shooting them, but we want him to be aggressive getting to the basket and making plays for his teammates.”

Bottom line, as long as Rose stays healthy and is movin’ and groovin’ out there creating open shots for his teammates everyone is happy and the Bulls will most likely continue winning.

Off the Court

DRose’s ex-girlfriend/accuser is seeking $21.5 million in damages. Quick recap: Rose and two friends are being sued by a woman who alleges Rose sexually assaulted her in August 2013. Rose has obviously denied all allegations, but things are kind of messy. The case is currently in the hands of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, but Rose lived in Illinois during that time. Apparently, this isn’t impacting or distracting Rose’s performance on the court, he said he’s letting his lawyer handle the legal information and he’s doing his job on the court. More news to come on this topic in the coming months.

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Noah and Butler

Alright, cialis alright, sovaldi sale alright! Who’s ready for some legitimate Bulls basketball? (raises hand eagerly) Preseason is fine and dandy, but it’s like going to get Froyo and just having some taste-test samples – you love some, you like some, but ultimately you want to put your favorites all in one tub and experience the magic! So maybe I enjoy Froyo too much, but I am also ready for the Chicago Bulls to run the floor of the United Center on Tuesday kicking off the new season. Who better to challenge our favorite men in red but the defending Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers? Let the rivalry continue!

Remind me, why do we care about the Cavs?

Here’s the skinny, Cleveland currently is and has been the favorites of the Eastern Conference – which is the Bulls conference. First and foremost, they have Lebron James the four-time NBA MVP. He’s a freak of nature when it comes to basketball and my favorite player to hate because he’s always on the opposing team. The Cavs as a whole have crazy depth (we’re talking Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson) and can suffocate their opponents on offensive AND defense. Question is, will the Bulls new offensive-minded approach be enough to overpower the Cavs? Well, we’ll just have to find out.

Keep Your Eyes On: Lebron James and Jimmy Butler

Despite the few Derrick Rose hopeless romantics left in Chicago, we all know this Bulls team is going to be led by Jimmy Butler. He signed his big boy contract this offseason and now we need the man to perform. Butler always plays Lebron James tough since his professional game was developed under Thibodeau who preached defense. Lebron James, is rumored to not be practicing after a back injection, but he claims he is healthy and ready to go. Lebron James with the flu is still tougher to play than most guys in the league so Butler has his work cut out for him – per usual.

Big Bench Mob: 

Joakim Noah has been demoted to come off the bench according to Coach Hoiberg and Nikola Mirotic will be starting in his place. JoNo’s never been the team’s most prominent offensive player, but after a career low season in 2014-2015 and a new offensive minded coach, Noah needs to add something else to the mix. Apparently, that something else is going to be coming off the bench, but I mean Taj Gibson AND Noah off the bench is rather intimidating to other team’s reserves. I kind of love the depth.

Masked Man:

This is definitely day-to-day, but as of right now Derrick Rose is slated to play in the home opener at the United Center on the 27th. Before the orbital fracture during practice (aka breaking his face) I was so optimistic about Rose this season, getting a healthy chance. Now he’s rocking a mask that looks incredibly uncomfortable and I would imagine it’s so hot and sweaty under there. Regardless, we’re not going to get top notch DRose for the home opener, but we may at least hear his name called during introductions. Also, totally unrelated to actually playing basketball, please enjoy the irony of Rose’s Addias 6 slogan “Never Break” – it’s too much for my heart to handle.

Two years in a row our Bulls have kicked off their home opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers. You know those NBA schedulers are adding fire to the already existing rivalry on purpose. Tip-off is at 7PM on the 27th, be at the UC or tune in! Time to #SeeRed Bulls babes.

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You might be friends with Luol Deng off the court, tadalafil but unless you’re sporting the crimson and gold these days you’re an obstacle between Lou and the hoop. After playing his entire career as a Chicago Bull, Deng-er-ang will host his old teammates at his new Cleveland arena for the first time Wednesday night (SIGH).

As a fan it’s absolutely tough to consider Deng an offensive threat instead of our favorite gangly player, but as he so gently put it “it’s just another game.” Don’t expect Deng to be all rainbows and sunshine against his old friends, this competitor is coming out to win. Lucky for Los Bulls, Joakim Noah has taken Chi-town pride to the next level. Expect nothing less than a gritty Eastern Conference match-up friends.

What You Need to Know:

  • Dengerang is Crankin in Cleveland: The Cavaliers are only 3-3 since acquiring Deng the first week of January, but individually he’s averaging just under 18 points a game – not too shabby after being shipped off to a new city. It’s unfortunate the uniforms are so ugly.

    via ivanov_22 Instagram

  • Prideful Pack: HAM of the Week Jo-No has taken the team under his wing emotionally since the trade and the Bulls surprisingly have gone 6-2. Considering they lost their best scorer when they shipped off Deng (Rose was already out for the season) they’ve shown some serious resilience as a team. They are most definitely NOT tanking the season.
  • Kyrie Irving may like to dress up like “Uncle Drew”during his free time, but this dude doesn’t mess around when it comes to basketball. He’s averaging 21.6 points a game with a side of some sick crossovers. He is the future of the Cavalier organization at this point. Within the sports realm there have been plenty of heated discussions on the topic of Kyrie Irving versus Derrick Roseas the top point guard. The answer is easy in my book, a healthy DRose could school Mr. Irving.

    Irving via nba_memes_quizzes Instagram

  • Best Match-ups: PG DJ Augustin hasn’t been with the Bulls for too long, but he’s made a solid impression so far. With Kirk Hinrich’s hamstring injury, Wednesday night will be a true challenge for Augustin as he takes on Kyrie Irving at point guard. Mike Dunleavy will get a full serving of Luol Deng and his lanky arms up and down the court; we’re going to need some hot sauce out of Mikey.
  • Restructured Roster: If you’ve been keeping up on your Bulls news you’ve noticed that the Bulls traded away Marquis Teague, the second year PG (he just wasn’t panning out) and picked up Toko (Tornike) Shengelia from the Brooklyn Nets. The trade created more cap space for the Bulls come the summer and Toko is a 6-foot-9 forward that we’ll consider a project for Coach Thibodeau over next three months. It’s unlikely Toko will get any playing time against the Cavs, but Thibs is full of surprises these days so we’ll have to wait and see.

Your Take Away Piece: 

“It’s going to be very strange seeing Deng in a Cavaliers uniform instead of repping the black, red and white, but change is inevitable. I’ve got to get over it sometime and what better way than with a Chicago Bulls win in Cleveland.”

Chicago Bulls Women’s Grey Yolo Cutoff Midriff Long Sleeve by Sportiqe, Clark Street Sports: $49.99

What’s Next: 

The Bulls tip off in Cleveland at 6 PM. Be sure to tune into Comcast Sportsnet to catch Deng and Noah going head to head for the first time in their NBA careers. It’s going to be a throwdown.

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After months of trade rumors, doctor the Chicago Bulls ended an era when they wheeled and dealed their two-time All-Star small forward Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers late Monday night.

Initially, seek you might be thinking the Bulls front office has lost their marbles. Deng has been the most consistent offensive player on the Bulls the past few years, ampoule he’s led the entire league playing a ridiculous amount of minutes, he’s a stifling defender and he has a heart of gold.

It wasn’t always pretty, but Lou gave Chicago his all throughout his 10 year journey and embodied the Bulls gritty defense-minded approach. Unfortunately, our love for Luol Deng is not enough to keep him in Chicago. There are plenty of reasons why the Deng-er-ang was sent off to hang with Kyrie Irving and the Cavs. It’s business, baby.

To give the Bulls’ organization some credit, they did try to keep Deng in Chicago by offering him a 3-year, $30 million extension last week. However, Deng declined the offer which then led to plan B – the trade.

Deng is 28, leading the team in points scored, but he’s also be ailed by quite a few injuries this season and in past years. The game takes a lot of wear and tear on the body. John Paxson, Chicago’s VP of Basketball Operations, addressed the media immediately Tuesday morning to discuss the big move. He explained just how hard of a decision it was to trade Luol and the amount of respect the organization has for the NBA player.

Chicago has been through the ups and downs with Deng and he has always proven the toughest of soldiers, playing through sprains, muscle tears and spinal taps. The city is forever grateful for his time here and we wish him nothing but greatness in Cleveland (unless he’s playing the Bulls of course).

What the Bulls got in Return:

I know what you’re thinking, “ditching Deng better have been worth it,” or maybe that’s just what I was thinking. The Bulls picked up center Andrew Bynum, three future draft picks and the right to swap 2015 first round picks with the Cavs. Los Bulls already have a solid center in Joakim Noah, so they will release Bynum before the Jan. 7 deadline (tonight). This will clear up about $12.3 million to go with the $14.3 million they saved by trading Deng.

The draft picks are what really sweetened the deal. The Bulls now have a boatload of draft picks coming their way in the next few years. This is great news because the 2014 draft is deep with talented players and the Bulls could really get some quality guys.

What This Means for the Bulls:

The fun has only just begun for the Chicago Bulls’ front office. This trade absolutely signifies a new era in Chicago basketball and a time for rebuilding, but it’s not going to be a complete overhaul. They still have serious talent in Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson. Yes, trading Deng means the Bulls won’t be doing much winning this season, but the goal is to develop the young players we do have like Tony Snell and find the the guys who can truly take the Bulls to a championship upon Derrick Rose’s return.

DRose is still the center of Chicago’s universe. The organization’s goal is to find the best players to compliment Rose. We need a team who no longer plays under Derrick, but rather a team who plays well WITH Derrick.

Expect the Bulls to amnesty Carlos Boozer this summer, this will cut another $16.8 million for the Bulls spending, which would hopefully allow enough salary cap room for the signing of an elite caliber free agent. All these deals give the Bulls quite a bit more wiggle room when it comes to the limitations of players they can sign.

These are absolutely long shots, but players like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Greg Monroe and even LeBron James could potentially be attainable. The Bulls have cap space and with some tempting rookies, Chicago may be able to conjure up some sign-and-trade deals.

Losing Deng is no easy feat. It’s going to take the team some time to bounce back after their silent leader was traded away, but I bet Joakim Noah is even more upset that the poor guy has to live in Cleveland.

Farewell Luol, we’ll miss you and your Dengerous wingspan.

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