NBA playoffs

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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Lebron-and-Hibbert

If you stopped watching the NBA Playoffs when our depleted Bulls were bounced last week in round two, patient you may want to consider tuning back in starting tonight as the Eastern Conference Finals are about to get underway.

The post season is far from over as four teams remain (down from the original 16) and are looking to advance to the NBA Finals, cialis sale the final round of the NBA Playoffs. In the Western Conference, there the favored San Antonio Spurs are facing off against the underdog Memphis Grizzlies and already have a 2-0 lead in the series.

In the Eastern Conference, for the second year in a row the top seeded Miami Heat find themselves going head-to-head with the third seeded Indiana Pacers. That’s right, two of the Bulls biggest rivals will face-off to claim their throne as the biggest beasts of the East and continue their quest to an NBA title.

Let’s take a closer look at this interesting Eastern Conference matchup that is sure to keep Bulls fans tuning in just a little longer.

On one end of the court you’ll find the Pacers who have the league’s best defense led by big nasty Roy Hibbert and on the opposite side you have the defending Champion Miami Heat with the hottest commanding offense in the NBA led by four-time MVP Lebron James. Will the Pacers tough antics rattle Miami’s nearly perfect offense? We will soon find out. Here’s the need to know information for round 3.

Key Players for the Heat:

Lebron James: Freakishly talented basketball player is all you need to know. On a bad night LeBron scores 24 points for his Heat and also plays the role of facilitator to give his fellow teammates scoring opportunities.

LBJ racked up his fourth MVP title this year and is looking to close in on his second NBA Championship title. Pacer’s head coach Frank Vogel said the Heat were “just the next team” they needed to get through and James took offense, because he thinks his team is great. So now King James is angry and hungrier for another title.

Chris Bosh: Is healthy this year and another scoring weapon for the Heat. There are very few NBA centers who can consistently hit three-point shots and Bosh happens to be one of them. Against Indiana’s giant line-up, Bosh is as big as it gets for the Heat under the basket.

Dwyane Wade: The Robin to Lebron James’ Batman has some shaky knees. The Chicago native’s health will determine just HOW dominate Miami’s offense can be. When healthy Wade is another constant scoring threat. During the Bulls series he looked like he had lost his legs quite a bit. We all forget DWade got himself a championship ring back in the day, long before BronBron ever came to South Beach.

Key Players for the Pacers:

Hibbert, West, and George; Source: nytimes.com

Roy Hibbert: This big man checks in at 7’2″ – he is the definition of large and in charge. The NBA center especially likes to pick things up in the playoffs. His long wing span allows him to dominate the boards and causes issues for Heat players like Lebron James who love to drive to the basket.

David West is another one of Indy’s big men and handles the power forward position. He’s currently suffering from a strained calf injury. This season he’s averaging 22.7 points a game against Miami and will need to take his game to the next level to advance his Pacer’s to the NBA Finals.

Paul George: has come into his own this season. He’s been filling in for the injured Danny Granger and has done a solid job. This season, he’s averaging 18 points a game against the Heat.  George will need to produce quite a bit offensively to keep up with Miami’s offensive power house.

What You Need to Know:

  • How they matched up in the regular season: During the regular season the Pacers went 2-1 against the Heat. They know what it takes to beat the champs, but everything changes when the intensity gets jolted about 100 notches during the playoffs.
  • Who has the advantage: Miami has the experience of champions this year and a title to defend. Indiana is a young team who has the ability to challenge the Heat, but lacks the playoff experience. The Heat added even more playoff experience with the pickup of Ray Allen who likes to sink three-pointers just when it hurts the most. The Pacers on the other hand are without their 2012 leading scorer as Danny Granger is out for the season with an injury and has been replaced by the third-year Paul George.
  • Size does matter:  The Heat showed their vulnerabilities in the series against our Chicago Bulls. Miami is a small team, giving Indiana the height advantage. What the Heat lack in height they make up for in fast breaks. The Pacers will need to avoid as many sloppy turnovers as possible to get through this Heat team.
  • Lessons from last year:Last year the Pacers had a 2-1 lead on the Heat going into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals when Lebron James and Dwyane Wade decided to take complete control and dominate every aspect of the series. The Heat went on to win the next three games and eventually the NBA title. Same story this year, the Pacer’s top rated defense is tough, but like the Bulls they struggle to score points. The Heat on the other hand have the best defensive ratings this post season and learned how to get physical in the series against Chicago.

    Norris Cole

  • The X-Factor: The difference between these two teams is who they have waiting in the reserves.  Miami’s bench showed us in round 2 they can produce points when the stars are struggling to get to the hoop. Norris Cole and his flat-top made his presence known against the Bulls. The Heat’s bench is deeper and more effective than the Pacers, which will allow Miami starters to take a breather without worrying about their backups.

Eastern Conference Finals Schedule (CST): 

Game 1: Wednesday, May 22 in Miami, at 7:30 PM on TNT

Game 2: Friday, May 24 in Miami, at 7:30 PM on TNT

Game 3: Sunday, May 26 in Indy, at 7:30 PM on TNT

Game 4: Tuesday, May 28 in Indy, at 7:30 PM on TNT

Game 5 (TBD): Thursday, May 30 in Miami, at 7:30 PM on TNT

Game 6 (TBD): Friday, June 1 in Indy, at 7:30 PM on TNT

Game 7 (TBD): Monday, June 3 in Miami, at 7:30 PM on TNT

 

What’s Next:

As much as I hate to say it, I predict a Miami Heat win in 6. The Pacers are going to battle it out, but in the end Lebron James is going to show the league exactly why he likes to be called “the king.”

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals is scheduled for 7:30 PM in South Beach on Wednesday night. Catch the series on TNT and if nothing else, be sure to catch the always entertaining DWade post-game fashions – pink pants and man-pris galore!

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The uncharacteristically quiet crowd at the United Center at tip-off should’ve been an indication of what was to come. The Bulls showed up to play Game 4 against the Heat lacking energy, there focus and sure what looked like a will to win. In a game that can be compared to the proverbial white flag being thrown, the Bulls lost their third consecutive matchup to the Heat, 88-65 and now trail 1-3 in the series.

There was absolutely nothing exciting about this game: no flagrant fouls, no ejections, no blocked LeBron shots, no MVPs, no late game surges, nothing. If you chose to go to the gym or work late, you did the right thing. But skipping the game doesn’t warrant being oblivious to what went down. Here’s what you missed (or better yet – didn’t miss).

What You Need to Know: 

  • Let’s start with the shocking stats first: the Bulls had one of their worst playoff games in the history of the franchise shooting only 27% and scoring only 33 points in the first half. The third quarter was particularly ugly when the Bulls only managed to come up with NINE points – yes, nine, thanks to the stifling defense of the Miami Heat and all around poor ball-handling and horrible shooting by the Bulls.
  • This just in: the Bulls are gassed. Yes, the Bulls were shorthanded, but Monday night’s game was different. It was clear that the Bulls have simply run out of energy. With Deng, Hinrich and Rose all out, Coach Thibs worked through his bench again trying to find the spark to get things moving. Even Rip Hamiltoncame into the game in the 2nd quarter and was the first Bull to clinch a three in a night full of missed shots and turnovers.

    Rip Hamilton

  • No-show Nate: Nate Robinson had ZERO points – ZERO! Nate-the-not-so-Great looked like a different player on Monday night; he couldn’t hit a basket to save his life. The high-energy guard looked all of 5’7″as he tried to keep up with LeBron as he charged down the lane to the basket.
  • Nate wasn’t the only one who failed to show up: Joakim Noah put up 6 points (a postseason low) and Carlos Boozer, who the Bulls especially needed a big game from, led the Bulls with 14 points.

Your Take Away Piece:

“The Heat are who we thought they were. Game 1 provided a sense of false hope for Bulls fans and these last three games have been the true wakeup call. Without Hinrich, Deng and Rose, our guys just don’t have the depth and energy to get past a physically superior team like the Miami Heat. While you can’t diminish what the Bulls have been able to accomplish so far this season, as depleted as they are this postseason, the Heat are simply too much for the Bulls to handle.”

What’s Next:

Game 5 is Wednesday night back in Miami where the Bulls face elimination from the playoffs. Deng, Hinrich and Rose are all still doubtful and listed as day-to-day. It’s not looking good Bulls fans. Do you still bull-ieve?

 

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Retaliation was the name of Game 2 for the reigning MVP Lebron James and his Miami Heat. As expected, ampoule King James came out like a man on fire handing the Bulls their worst playoff loss in franchise history with a whopping 115-78 clobber-fest.

The dislike and bad blood between these two teams was evident from the first jump ball. Whistles were blowing left and right just seconds into a game that ended with excessive dirty fouls (six technicals to be exact), health plenty of terrible calls, as well as two Bulls ejections. Ugly is one adjective to describe the situation. Regardless of the score Wednesday night, the Bulls stole Game 1 on Miami’s home court and things are all tied up 1-1 as the series heads back to Chicago Friday.

What You Need to Know:

  • Dirty Ball. The tone of Game 2 was set immediately as Miami tried to step up to the Bulls physical level, but some chose to play dirty instead of physical. The first play consisted of Dwyane Wade throwing a ball at Marco Belinelli. Later Chris Anderson (the NBA’s Peacock) threw an elbow into Belinelli – and that was just the beginning of it.
  • Lebron James came to party in Game 2 and set the tone offensively, he was a man on a mission. He scored 19 points in the first half after putting up just two in the first half on Monday. Since the Bulls were getting spanked, BronBron didn’t need to go ape in the second half – Miami had already won.
  • Ray Allen led the Heat with 21 points and Norris Cole wasn’t far behind with 18 points. Between Norris Cole’s 90’s flat-top fro and the ridiculous spectacle of the Birdman, we were at least aesthetically entertained while the Bulls were getting pummelled.
  • Initially the Bulls kept things close, but as the game progressed the refs took the game out of the players hands. The game changer was a technical foul called on Nate Robinson for “foul language” when he was talking to Jo-No on the court. Let the boys play, Nate-Rob wasn’t heckling the Heat he was talking to his own man.
  • After the halftime break the Bulls came back, didn’t make any adjustments to counterattack the Heat and the brutal beating began. The Bulls continued their sloppy ball handling causing too many turnovers and Miami fast break points. They were out rebounded, out hustled and just out played.
  • Both Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson were ejected after the refs didn’t call goal tending on a Gibson basket. The Bulls were down thirty points so Jo-No stood up from the bench and started hassling the ref and got himself booted. Gibson then got heated and shouted some inappropriate words at the ref and was ejected as well. Let’s hope there aren’t any suspensions as a result of the ejections, we need these guys to play throughout the series.
  • Oh, and then this Dwyane Wade ensemble showed up during the post game conference. We love the floral trend for spring, but this just does not work on a baller, I don’t care if you are DWade. Seriously, what’s in the water in South Beach?

Your Take Away Piece:

“If I were Scott Foster (the head ref tonight) I wouldn’t want to find myself in a dark alley with any Chicago fans anytime soon. It felt like he was trying to just hand Game 2 over to the Heat. Wednesday was absolutely a blow out, but our Bulls are resilient and Game 3 is on our Chi-town turf.”

What’s Next:

Game 3 is back at the UC and this is NBA playoff WAR. The Bulls need to clear their heads, shake off this blow out loss, regain their composure and focus on getting another win against the NBA champs; as we know from experience, it can be done. Tip off is at 7 PM on Friday and also on ESPN. Tickets are still available and for relatively cheap considering how aggressive this series has gotten.  Find the cheapest seats starting around $60 HERE.

If you’re considering heading to the UC for what is sure to be another slug-fest, be sure to look the part by wearing the required SEE RED playoff gear.  Need some help? Get inspired HERE.

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Bulls vs. Heat Game 2 Cheat Sheet

The short-handed Bulls extinguished the Heat and their raging egos on Monday night with their 93-86 Game 1 win, find  obliterating any ideas of a four-game “Miami Sweep” in the second round. Our favorite South Beach divas were caught off guard and we can’t imagine they were too thrilled about their unexpected loss to their conference foes who were missing three of their starters.

Chicago’s work in the series opener was nothing short of astonishing, sale but the Heat will be out for blood to defend their reputation as champs in front of their home crowd in Game 2. We can expect bigger and stronger plays from King James and his faithful minions after losing to our fearless Bulls squad. Can Nate Robinson and Joakim Noah lead the Bulls to another emotional win over the Heat?

What You Need to Know:

  • Jimmy Butler played all 48 minutes, cialis had 21 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and a block in Game 1 all while chasing BronBron around the court. With Luol Deng tweeting from a hospital bed just two days ago, Butler will get the start again for the Bulls. Jimmy B was just shy of perfection on Monday and we’re hoping he’s got some energy stored up for Game 2.
  • Nate-the-Great Robinson needs to keep playing with the same intensity and making shots late in the game. Robinson has proved he is fearless no matter who he plays putting up 27 points on Monday night. The shorthanded Bulls need his offense, energy and confidence to continue to be consistent.
  • On the night he gave his MVP speech Lebron James was one cold turkey in the first half of Game 1. King James only had two points after two quarters which literally never happens. Expect a much more productive night out of James in Game 2.
  • Expect better outside shooting from Ray Allen and Shane Battier (the Heat’s three-point masters) who were 4-for-14 from the field on Monday. A poor shooting percentage is not Miami’s “thing.”
  • Terrible Turnovers. If the Bulls want to pull off another miraculous win they need to avoid turnovers. The Heat thrive on turnovers which result in their favorite fast break basketball. Lucky for the Bulls, the Heat were rusty in Game 1 after their week long break and weren’t able to capitalize on Chicago’s 16 TOs. If the Bulls can avoid giving up the ball, this will limit the Heat’s points in transition and make them work harder for their points.
  • The Heat haven’t lost two consecutive games at home all season and they’re not trying to make any changes to their home-court stats. The Heat are no strangers to adversity trailing both the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder in last year’s playoffs. We are all too familiar with the end result – BronBron hoisting that trophy and getting the ring he so badly wanted.
  • Last, but definitely not least, rumors are spiraling that Derrick Rose may hang up his suit and tie for his warmups in Game 2. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Your Take Away Piece:

“Even though we’re still pumped about the Bulls Game 1 win, they need to focus on the task at hand – beating the Heat in the second game of the series. The playoffs are their own beast and you can guarantee Miami will have a different approach to counter-attack the Bulls’ defense. To win games against the Heat, the Bulls will have to play nearly perfect team basketball. The combination of aggressive defense and on-point offense could give the Heat another challenge Wednesday night.”

What’s Next:

Our men in red proved in Game 1 that they’re not letting Miami pass through this round without a serious Eastern Conference battle. Do not miss the action of Game 2 in this exciting series. Be sure to tune in at 6 p.m. tonight to TNT. Remember, it’s the playoffs and anything can happen: BULL-ieve!

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After a two week series with the Brooklyn Nets, viagra a battered roster, purchase and countless injuries, cheap many expected the Bulls to be too tired to get past the Heat’s “big three” in Monday night’s series opener in Miami.  But the Bulls stunned us all and continued their incredi-BULL post season run with a 93-86 Game 1 road win against the reigning NBA Champs.

The Roseless, Kirkless, Dengless Chicago Bulls defied the odds and pulled off a huge upset in South Beach Monday night in front of the White Out crowd proving once again just how tough they can play the Heat. Like Coach Thibs always says, as long as the Bulls have five guys on the court, “they have enough to win.”

If you had anticipated a Miami sweep in this Eastern Conference Semifinal series, you can put down your hater-ade and buckle up because the Bulls aren’t going anywhere without a fight.

What You Need to Know:

  • Nate-the-Great Robinson was back in action tonight. With Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich suited up on the bench, Nasty-Nate (the third string point guard) has been responsible for running the offense.  He led the Bulls with 27 points and nine assists even after having to leave the game briefly to get ten stitches in his upper lip. Ain’t no body got time for bloody lips.
  • What can’t Jimmy do? Jimmy Butler’s defense on King James was incredible in Game 1. BronBron is a monster on the floor and chasing him for 48 minutes is no easy task. Butler racked up 21 points and also led the team with 14 rebounds. He has played 48 minutes (out of a possible 48) in the last three consecutive games – he’s got some serious endurance and has become the official workhorse on the roster.
  • It was an entire team effort that pulled off the Game 1 victory. Joakim Noah continued to dominate the boards with 11 rebounds and 13 points. Taj Gibson added some tough defense and 12 points. Marco Belinelli provided a few much need 3-point shots and finished with 10 points for the Bulls.
  • Lebron James wasn’t his usual dominant self Monday night – those special “MVP” sneakers must have been bad luck. After receiving his fourth MVP trophy in a special ceremony before the game, LeBron came out ice cold in the first half, but managed to score 15 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. BronBron missed a three point shot with less than a minute left and literally gave up. He didn’t run back on defense, he didn’t try to foul a Bulls’ player, he just stood there like the diva that he is. 
  • Chicago found themselves getting into turnover trouble yet again giving up the ball 16 times in Game 1.  Luckily the Heat were super rusty from their week-long vacation and couldn’t capitalize on their open opportunities. They won’t always shoot so poorly so the men in red need to avoid the sloppy ball handling.
  • The Bulls scratched and clawed their way through Game 1, never easing up the fight. The momentum turned when the Heat put the Bulls in the bonus (exceeding their foul limit allowing Chicago free-throws with every foul) during the fourth quarter and the Bulls started making their free throws. Obviously, every Heat player contested any fouls called against them because they don’t EVER commit a foul (crybabies).

Your Take Away Piece:

“The Bulls never give up and are proving that heart can trump talent on any given night. It wasn’t pretty, but the Bulls never stopped fighting in Game 1 and showed the league and any doubters that this series isn’t going to be a walk in the park for the hot-headed Heat.”

What’s Next:

We want more, we want more, like we really, really like it! Gear up for the wild ride that is a Bulls-Heat best of seven game series. We can expect another gritty game in South Beach as Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 PM on TNT. Nothing would make my Hump day better than another Bulls playoff win. SEE RED baller beauties!

Game 3 is back in Chicago on Friday night. With last night’s win, ticket prices jumped…just a bit. It will cost you, but if you’ve got the time and resources, consider heading to the UC to see our men in red take on BronBron and the boys. Tickets start at around $120. Find the best deals HERE.

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