Playoffs

With a heavy heart (and a secret sigh of relief) the Bulls 2015-2016 season is officially over after Chicago beat the 76ers at home on Wednesday. I guess it’s better to end on a win, but the Bulls failure to find a lack of urgency was painful to watch this season and it was all too little too late.

Yes you read that right. The Chicago Bulls failed to make the NBA Playoffs for the first time since drafting Derrick Rose. Also, I’d like to note that the Bulls are in the Eastern Conference, which is by far the weaker of the two and they STILL couldn’t seem to drum up enough wins to snag that 8th seed in the playoffs. If I seem bitter, I am. The Bulls 42-40 record on the season hurt my feelings as a fan. I can’t pin-point just one problem that lead to the Bulls’ demise, it was more like a slew of issues that ended up just blowing the season out of proportion.

We’ll start with the injuries that always seem to hamper the Bulls and ruin my dreams of strutting around town in Chicago Bulls NBA championship swag from this decade. First, Joakim Noah went down in January with a season ending shoulder injury. Then Nikola Mirotic had to have an emergency surgery to remove his appendix which kept him off the floor for some weeks. In early February, star Jimmy Butler sustained a knee injury that kept him out of the game for about a month and some seriously crucial games. Not to mention Mike Dunleavy did not return from off-season back surgery until February. For the majority of the season, the Bulls were kind of a band of misfits and rarely had their starting lineup in tact.

Problem number two, coaching. Fred Hoiberg assumed the role of Head Coach in the wake of Tom Thibodeau’s dismissal in 2015. Here’s the thing, I definitely loved me some Thibs basketball. He wasn’t perfect, but he empowered his players to play passionately and effectively. He was a defensive stone-wall and this year was proof that defense matters a whole hell of a lot more than people like to admit. I hate to say it, but Hoiberg came off as a soft pretty-boy this first season behind the reins. Coming into the season Hoiberg was praised for his work at Iowa State and his offensive focus. Well my handsome friend, that sissy stuff may have worked in the farm fields, but it sure didn’t work in the big leagues. Hoiberg’s lack of command seemed most obvious from veteran players who had played under more, we’ll say ‘aggressive’ coaches. Jimmy Butler first stirred the waters when he spoke out after a tough loss that Hoiberg needed to be tougher on the guys. Umm, I agree. Most recently, Pau Gasol spoke out about how difficult this season has been for him. Players took games for granted, lacked a sense of urgency and maturity. Oh, you mean like your head coach playing a dumb and dumber clip when your season is on the line?

Despite the criticism, from haters like myself, Hoiberg has argued that he has a stronger relationship with his players than it seems through the medias eyes. Prove it buddy.

Problem number three, we have Jimmy Butler in his prime and Derrick Rose still tough, but a little washed up, trying to play on the same team. The two “super-stars” never gelled. Which SUCKS because we’ve seen what happens when you get two super-stars to gel, just google some old highlights of MJ and Scottie Pippen.

So what happens when you don’t make the playoffs? The rumor mill begins a churnin’. Some people think the Bulls should blow up the roster and start with fresh young talent. Others question if the team should keep both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Some people are lobbying to axe Hoiberg and the whole front office. We’ve got a lot of emotional fans on our hands here.

Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol have been the free agent talks of the town this year. After Pau Gasol openly expressed his frustrations with the season, we’re all guessing the dude will opt out of his contract, but now focuses have been shifting to Noah. This season proves more than ever that Noah was the leader of this Bulls team and the player who could look at Butler and Rose and tell them to step it up. Now stories have surfaced that the front office may be looking to sign Noah to a short term deal. The question is, would Noah even want to take it after Hoiberg falsely said Jo-No volunteered to come off the bench earlier this season? The front office also believes Gasol is part of the “core” of the team So who stays and who goes?

My most favorite rumor of late is the Jimmy Butler trade. Butler’s quick rise to stardom and hefty pay raise has led to a bit of an ego issue and preferential treatment. Lets just say Jimmy’s rubbed some teammates the wrong way and some have gone to infer that his attitude is toxic to the locker room.  With his level of play this season, it was clear that Butler was the star of the roster, but leadership is earned and not determined by who gets paid the most (Rose has proven that to us). Jimmy has shown his work ethic is top notch, but he may not yet be mature enough to lead or motivate veteran players. Now, he’s put himself in a predicament as the best player on an extremely dysfunctional team with a very high trade value as one of the most sought after two-way players in the league. If these issues are true, we can’t be surprised if Butler is wheeled and dealed this off season.

When your team doesn’t make the playoffs there are always serious repercussions, especially if you’re the so-called leader of that train wreck of the a team. Put your seat belts on Bulls fans, I’m predicting a wild ride for this off season.

Until next time my friends 🙂

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Round 2 of the Calder Cup playoffs isn’t going so well for the Chicago Wolves. They’re currently down two games against the Toronto Marlies.  The Wolves began their Round 2 run Friday night with a 5-2 loss at home.  Unfortunately they suffered a second loss, site 4-2, Saturday night also at home.  The series now moves to Toronto and the Ricoh Coliseum.

marlieslive_rd2game2_preview644x396-1Chicago will look to rally Wednesday night in Toronto.  A win gives them a chance to stay in the series and ultimately the playoffs.  A third loss puts them in a very bad position in this best of 7 series. Keep in mind Toronto swept the Milwaukee Admirals in the first round of the playoffs so they’ll be looking to repeat that performance in Round 2.

So what do the Wolves need to keep themselves in the run for the Calder Cup?  Now I don’t claim to know everything about hockey (shocking, I know!), but I can speculate. To me, the Wolves looked tired Saturday night.  Their game lacked focus and energy. If they can take the next few days off to re-focus and re-energize, they stand a good chance of keeping themselves in the playoffs.  The team certainly has the talent.

Wolves fans not looking to make a last minute trip to Canada can catch the game at 6pm on The U too, XFinity 248 or ahllive.com on Wednesday night.  These will be your options through most of the rest of Round 2, unless it goes to Game 7 which will be back on home ice Monday May 19.article_9b3e17a0-bc49-4fd6-b3ff-a5e2ebcafb10

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Playoffs are here…bring on the fashion.

Hello Divas! I missed all of you oh so dearly. I know it’s been a while, mind but I am back…just in time for the NBA Playoffs!

It is a wonderful time in the NBA where the game–and the fashion–is intensified.

During the Playoffs, health wood can become headgear and lint rollers can act as accessories. There are hits. There are misses. There are downright shames. I’m here for all three. Let’s get into it, cheap shall we?

NBA on TNT Honor Craig Sager with Sartorial Fashion 

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source: aglamslam.com

If you are an avid basketball watcher, you have definitely seen one of Craig Sager’s bold suits on the sidelines of major games. The TNT reporter is currently being treated for acute leukemia in Atlanta.

In honor of Sager, The NBA on TNT crew channeled their inner Sager and dressed up like him.  Charles Barkley, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal sported eye-popping ensembles while wishing him a speedy recovery.

Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Deron Williams go Business Casual 

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Brooklyn Nets star players Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Deron Williams were recently seen rocking pre-game business casual ensembles. They looked dapper as they made their pregame strut into the locker rooms.

Although the series against the Raptors is tied 2-2, Kevin Garnett tells reporters that he is not impressed with the Barclays Center crowd.

“They could do better,” Garnett said, as reported by ESPN. “I was expecting Brooklyn to be real hostile, New York-style. I know what it’s like to come here as the opposition, so our crowd could do better, but they were there when we needed them, and we fed off of them.” (Fox Sports)

Mike Conley’s Wooden Fedora 

mikeconleyhatQuestion. When did wood become a fashion statement? I am going to go out on a limb and say that Mike Conley would know. The Memphis point guard got everyone’s attention with his wooden head gear. The carpenter’s dream of a hat was an epic collaboration between Conley’s stylist Brandon Williams and Two Guys Bow Ties.

Mike Conley is one of the few people on this earth that can pull this look off. He manages to look swag-ulous even while rocking a hard-wood flooring on his head. That takes talent. Okay. I have another serious question. Does a wooden hat require an occasional pine-sol cleaning? I need to know these things.

Mike Conley's wooden fedora

Mike Conley’s wooden fedora

One thing that I do know is that Mike and Grizzlies are putting up a fight! Memphis is currently tied 2-2 with Oklahoma City.

Andre Iguodala in Animal Print 

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Andre Iguodala

Lions and tigers and blue leopard print–oh my. Andre Iguodala was seen sporting a powder- blue leopard print sweater. The Golden State small forward/shooting guard’s style is always on point. I’m glad that his on-court style is finally catching up. On Sunday’s Game 4 against the Clippers, he scored 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists–an improvement on his average 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists.

“I found some things they were trying to take away from Steph and Klay (Thompson) and was putting myself in position to be a threat” Iguodala said. “We’re going to continue to look forward and try to make things happen.” (SF Gate) The Warriors are currently tied with the Clippers 2-2.

Drake attends Raptors Game 

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Drake is certainly putting Toronto on the map! Ever since the Canadian recording artist (and 2014 ESPYS host) became the Raptors’ global ambassador, everything’s been coming up ‘Canada.’ This is the first time that the Toronto Raptors have made the playoffs in six years. Toronto will also be hosting the 2015 All-Star game.  Big deal, much? Drake is very vocal (and visual) about his love for the Raptors. He has made himself comfortable at the games . Comfortable enough to roll lint. No, that statement is not a euphemism. He was literally using a lint roller on his pants during a game. When he’s not making his clothing lint-free, he is busy yelling at referees.

Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors - Game Two

Oh, Drake. You never cease to slay me.

Well, that’s it for now, Divas! I will be back next week to talk about more Playoffs Fashion and Gossip. As usual, I will keep you fabulously posted!

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Game 5 cheat sheet

It’s a do-or-die Game 5 for our Bulls tonight as they’ve found themselves down 3-1 against the Washington Wizards in this first round match-up. If you tuned in for Sunday’s embarrassing display of basketball you may have already thrown in the towel for Bulls basketball this season, thumb but our men in red have another shot to come back with vengeance tonight at home. One final loss gives them a much earlier exit from the post season than anticipated.

Only a few teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series in the NBA so the odds are not in Chicago’s favor. The Bulls have faced mountains of challenges and adversity this season and came out on top – the stakes just haven’t been as high. Hopefully they can conjure up some extra energy and come out red hot tonight.

If the Bulls want to salvage their season there are a few crucial things that need to happen, find let’s take a look.

What You Need to Know: 

  • Take Control from the Start: Chicago has let Washington take the reigns FAST in each of the first four games. Letting a team score 15 unanswered points on you in the first few minutes can set the pace for the entire game. The Bulls need to make the Wizards work for each and every basket and create challenges for them. Come out strong against these youngins’ and the game totally changes.
  • taj gibsonGibson is the Key: They have NO ONE to match up with Taj Gibson. Nene (full name Nene Hilario, look but goes by “Nene”) is coming back from his one game suspension after basically kissing Jimmy Butler and throwing a punch in Game 3 and will be busy giving Noah the run around, so Taj is the X-Factor. He’s big and mobile and Washington cannot stop him. He’s coming off a career-high 32-point game 4. Now if only the rest of the team can find some offense.
  • Quit Being Bullied: The Bulls had one of the top defenses in the NBA during the regular season. Since when have the Bulls looked less physical than their opponent on defense? They’ve seemed tired and weak in this series against the Wizards. They are absolutely the tougher team and need to get back to their roots and play the gritty Bulls basketball we’ve seen them play time and time again.
  • Defend the Perimeter: Whether it’s John Wall, Bradley Beal, or Trevor Ariza the Washington Wizards have a hot hand when it comes to the three point shot. The Bulls need to STOP these guys from being wide open at the perimeter. Force the Wizards to face the Bulls’ big men in the paint and get a little banged up in the process.

Take Away Piece:

It’s been a better season than expected for our Bulls, but they aren’t playing like themselves in this series against the Wizards. They need to come out strong (we’re looking at you starting five) and maybe with some offense to defeat the quick and hungry Wizards. If not, we will be saying goodnight to JoNo and friends until next season.

What’s Next: 

see redThe Bulls are fighting for playoff life at the United Center tonight. Tip-off is set for 7 PM and you can tune in on TNT or CSN Chicago – whichever commentators you fancy. If the game goes south, I’d recommend having your favorite calming cocktail handy; tea, chocolate milk, an entire bottle of vino – whichever does the trick! Hopefully our guys can pull this off, otherwise we have many months until Bulls basketball is back in our lives. Let’s just win the game, #BULLieve.

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Bulls vs. Wizards: Round 1

Well, cure hello there Chicago Bulls, the playoffs look so good on you.

After another whirlwind of a season, the ever resilient fourth seeded Bulls are preparing to take on the fifth seeded Washington Wizards in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

You may be thinking this all feels vaguely familiar; a Rose-less Bulls team attempting to claim the East and finally make it to the NBA finals. What’s different this time around? Should we even get our hopes up? The answer is, YES.

For the first time in forever Chicago is heading into the post season completely healthy – say WHAT? Yep, the Bulls have had the same starting rotation for the last 40 games of the regular season. Considering the past few injury prone seasons, this is remarkable and a healthy roster has allowed continuity for our favorite guys. We’re not sure if it’s just luck or different team strategies, but we’re happy with the outcome.

This first round match-up with the Wizards is about as ideal as a first round series can get. Chicago avoided another first round showdown with the Brooklyn Nets and if successful, are hypothetically lined up to take on a struggling Indiana Pacers ballclub in round two. The Bulls have the advantage on paper, but never underestimate a team come playoffs when the intensity sky rockets. Here are all the essential details to cheer on our men in red through the first round.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards

What You Need to Know: 

  • Two Totally Different Mindsets: The Bulls are a team who’s roots are embedded in defense. They smother their opponents and refuse open shooting opportunities. Despite their stifling defense, they can struggle to produce points. On the opposite end of the court the Wizards are young, aggressive on offense and showy. If Chicago can control the tempo the series is theirs. If our guys get sloppy and struggle to get the ball to the hoop, Washington will thrive in transition and snag the advantage.
  • Post Season Primed: The Bulls are experienced in the post season. They’ve made it to the playoffs the last five seasons and advanced to further rounds in 2013 and 2011. Their opponent hasn’t won a playoff series since they beat the Bulls in the first round in 2005 and their guys are baby ballers.
  • Regular Season Recap: The Wizards were 2-1 against the Bulls this season. However, both of their wins were back in January when the Bulls’ roster was in shambles, they’d just lost Derrick Rose and Luol Deng was traded to Cleveland. Later in the season the Bulls gave the Wizards a a beatdown in Washington, so don’t let the record fool you.

Key Players to Watch on the Wizards:

  • Point Guard, John Wall is a 23 year-old stud. The PG made his first All-Star appearance this season and averaged 19.4 points and 8.8 assists per game. His offensive tenacity poses a threat to the Bulls who will be challenged with guarding the quick and talented Wall.

    Beal and Wall

    Beal & Wall

  • Shooting Guard, Bradley Beal is in his second NBA season and shined as one of the Wizards top dogs. The up and coming star averaged 17 points a game and is ready to demonstrate his talents on a bigger stage.

Key Players to Watch on the Bulls:

  • Center, Joakim Noah IS Chicago Bulls basketball this year. He humbly begs to differ, but this two-time All-Star’s play generally determines if his team sinks or swims. He’s had the best season of his career collecting an insane amount of triple doubles all while averaging 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assist and 1.5 blocks per game.  JoNo has had an unbelievable season and there’s no doubt his talent and intensity won’t shine in this playoff series.

    Noah and Butler

    Noah and Butler

  • Shooting Guard, Jimmy Butler needs to shine in this series. Butler will be tasked with defending Beal all while producing offensively. He got off to a slow start this season, but we know the Butler has it in him. He averaged 13.1 points per game during the year, but more importantly played the most minutes per game. His defense is clutch to the Bulls success in this series. If he can trap and frustrate the Wizards’ rising star guards Chicago gains the upper hand.

First Round Schedule: 

Game 1: Sunday, April 20 at Chicago, 6 p.m., TNT and CSN

Game 2: Tuesday, April 22 at Chicago, 8:30 p.m., TNT and CSN

Game 3: Friday, April 25 at Washington, 7 p.m., ESPN and CSN

Game 4: Sunday, April 27 at Washington, 12 p.m., ABC

Game 5*: Tuesday, April 29 at Chicago, TBD

Game 6*: Thursday, May 1 at Washington, TBD

Game 7*: Saturday, May 3 at Chicago, TBD, TNT and CSN

* if necessary

What’s Next: 

BennyWhere you at Bulls-bandwagon? If you fell off throughout the season it’s time to climb back on because things are about to get real. The playoff party begins Sunday at the UC and will only continue to rage on throughout next week.

The Wizards are young and talented, but if Chicago can consistently find their offensive rhythm, their relentless defense will prove too overwhelming for the young studs and force them to crumble under pressure. Prediction: Bulls in 5.

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Bulls are Hungry

Calling all Bulls babes: the NBA playoffs are right under our noses! If you took a backseat after Derrick Rose went out for the season or Luol Deng was shipped off to Cleveland – we don’t blame you, find but it’s time to brush up on your Bulls basics because we’re gearing up for a playoff party.

The league is wrapping up their regular season tonight and our Bulls have secured the role of “most dangerous underdog” in the post season this year. No one expected much out of Chicago after Derrick rose went down with the doom and gloom of a second knee injury. Many suggested the team tank the season and collect themselves a nice lottery pick in the draft. Instead, the Bulls are prepping for the 2014 post season and are easily one of the biggest threats to the top seeded dogs in the East.

What You Need to Know:

1. The Perfect Playoff Positioning? They’re either playing the Brooklyn Nets or the Washington Wizards in a first round show down. It all depends on the outcome of the final games tonight (The Bulls snag a four seed and Indy’s bracket with a loss or a Raptors win. They take the three seed with a win and a Raptors loss). Rumor has it the Nets don’t want to meet the Bulls in the first round after we knocked them out last year. The Pacers clinched the top seed in the East so technically we want the 4th seed to avoid the Miami Heat’s half of the bracket. Let’s not face BronBron and his title contending friends until the Eastern finals por favor.

2. It’s all about the messy bun swagger and the heart hustle and muscle of Joakim Noah this post season. His energy propels the emotional stability of the entire roster. JoNo has been absolutely stunning this season, racking up career high stats. Triple-double is basically his middle name. He leads the team in rebounds, blocks, and assists (yea our center is the best passer on the team, deal with it). Noah’s health and consistent performance is essential for the Bulls to advance to the second round.

3. Crazy Cool Coach: Thibs may look like a Disney evil villain or maybe you get the used car salesman vibe from his fashion sense, but one thing proves true; Tom Thibodeau knows how to coach an NBA team. It doesn’t matter who’s on his bench, NBA players ride or die with their boy Thibs.

4. Defensive Titans: By now we are all aware of the Bulls defensive mindset. Tom Thibodeau has his teams eat and breathe defense and the Bulls are peaking (minus the loss to the lowly Knicks) at the right time. We’re looking your way Jimmy ButlerThey’ve been ranked in the top 5 defenses all season and are about to take the physicality up a notch.

5. X-Factors: Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. Gibson is in the running for Sixth man of the year and there is no time like the present for him to whip out all the stops. I want ego-smothering dunks and I want dirty defense. Jimmy Buckets had a slow start on the year, but has picked things up since the All-Star break. We need a big burst from Butler to solidify some offense and defense for the Bulls.

6. Down and Dirty Delivery: The Bulls are primitive in their strategic play and do not possess the same finesse as power houses like the Heat and Pacers. Sometimes they barely have much offense at all; it can get ugly. However, the Bulls find other ways to beat you. They’ll physically and emotionally wear their opponents down.

Jimmer

Jimmer Fredette via @ChicagoBulls

7. Jimmer Fever: From the second Jimmer Fredette stepped foot onto a Bull’s bball court, the media and the fans went into their usual Jimmer Fever frenzy. Think Brian Scalabrine White Mamba style, but not a super old NBA veteran. Jimmer is a bench mobber who may not see heavy minutes, but can make an impact emotionally – plus he’s got a nice mid-range shot. #jimmerfeverforever

8. D.J. Augustin is the best pick-up the Bulls could have hoped for. Chicago snatched Augustin after the Raptors put him up on waivers (the NBA equivalent to being homeless on the street). The Bulls were a team who needed a backup point guard, they took Augustin under their wing and he instantly made an impact off the bench. He’s currently the Bulls’ leading scorer.

Brewer's back

Brewer via Chicagobullspics

9. Roster Updates: Ronnie “brew-ha-ha” Brewer is back on the Bulls. We were sad to see him go a few years back, but his return to the bench mob is a happy one. Brewer knows Thib’s intense defensive ways. He plays tough and can give the Bulls a pick-me-up when they need one.

10. No DRose: Derrick rose isn’t making a superhero return to whisk his team off into NBA happily ever after. Let it go, Let it go. (Yes, I went there, Frozen style)

Per usual any playoff advancing is going to take an entire Bulls team effort. Kirk, Boozer, Butler, Dunleavy and the whole gang are going to have to play their hearts out and maybe, just maybe, our Bulls may upset the entire conference. It’s time to #BULLieve.

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