San Antonio Spurs

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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The holidays are here and that means food, drugstore family and football.  No wait, this is Christmas and that means food, family and BASKETBALL.  It’s easy to get confused because Christmas is to the NBA what Thanksgiving is the NFL.  An annual tradition that dates back to 1947 of all day basketball folly.  In 2011, the slate of games grew to 5, tipping off at 11am, and has stayed as large and as long ever since.

This year we’re looking at anything and everything from coast to coast match ups, a Finals rematch (or preview), East vs. West face-offs, and a Staples Center showdown, all complete with the requisite NBA Christmas uniforms, which I am not mad about this year.

If you’re looking to pick and choose when to watch vs. when to eat, sleep or spend time with the fam, here’s the game by game rundown.

11am CT New Orleans at Miami

A match up of the somewhat surprisingly intriguing Heat vs. the under performing Pelicans.  The Brow is always a fun watch and seeing him take on Hassan Whiteside in the paint shouldn’t disappoint.  But New Orleans is ravaged by injuries and an inability to adjust to the new coaching staff.  While I’m much more partial to New Orleans for eating, drinking and dancing, I’d pick Miami in this one.

1:30pm CT Chicago at OKC

The NBA so wanted Derrick Rose vs. Russell Westbrook to mean what it used to.  Unfortunately three knee surgeries has taken its toll on one much more than the other.  Despite this, the Bulls beat the Thunder earlier in the season behind a great game from Rose, who has since lost his facemask, the height of his hair, and his shot.  Both teams are playing under new head coaches who made the jump from college ball, but OKC is surging, while the Bulls count their lucky playoffs stars that they’re in the East.  I want to take the Bulls to turn it around and bring this one home because they always seem to surprise me on Christmas but without Joakim Noah, I have little faith this holiday season.

4pm CT Cleveland at Golden State

Get out the eggnog early because this is going to be good.  You can call it a Finals rematch or a Finals preview, but the top teams in each conference are at full strength with Cleveland seeing the return of Kyrie Irving this week, and they’re about to go at it.  Golden State boasts one of the best crowds in the NBA, who have been getting to games an hour early just see Steph Curry warm up.  And Lebron, well he’s mad.  Golden State makes history with every win so I’m picking the Warriors, if only to hope for a Riley Curry sighting at the post game press conference.

7:00pm CT San Antonio at Houston

Eat dinner quickly so you can be on the couch for an in-state battle of two completely opposite teams.  The Spurs quietly have the second best record in the NBA with only two less wins than the Warriors.  Pop is still sitting during games since it’s not April, and Kawhi Leonard shows us nightly how much bigger, stronger and faster he is than other top shooting guards in the league.  He’ll face another one in James Harden on Friday, but Harden’s Rockets have not done anything quietly this season.  Already working with an interim head coach and Dwight Howard trade rumors, the Rockets have been incredibly mediorcre so far, and outright bad at times.  They are however coming off of a 3 game win streak and have the talent to put on a show at home.  But if NBA fans know one thing, it’s to never bet against the Spurs.

9:00pm CT Los Angeles at Los Angeles

Many family Christmas gatherings may be able to relate to this match up – two passive aggressive siblings, living under the same roof, cut from the same cloth, with so little in common on any level.  On one end of the floor, the Lakers are a mess.  In the midst of the Kobe retirement tour, they boast two young stars in the making in Randle and Russell, who go in and out of the lineup for no apparent reason.  Kobe may score 34 points, or he may have 3 or 4 air balls.  Meanwhile, the Clippers are as good as they’ve ever been, but it doesn’t look to be good enough.  Their team is filled with controversial players who have never made it quite as far as they should have, and it doesn’t look like they ever will after the first few months of the season.  Kobe will be looking to go out with a bang in his 16th Christmas game, but I’d still take the Clippers to use the holiday to get their season back on track, as they continue to chase the shadow of the Warriors.

And that’s a wrap on Santa’s gift to all NBA fans this year.  Wishing you a very merry NBA Christmas, from our SDI family to yours!

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Popovich and Parker

Popovich and Parker via kens5.com

After a day of R&R the Bulls will need to conjure up some more hustle as the San Antonio Spurs are blowing into the windy city Tuesday. Chicago has won six of their last seven games at home and are looking to knock down another big dog in the league. Their opponents are currently on a six-game winning streak and looking to extend their winning record to seven. It’s a night where two of the greatest minds in the NBA will face-off. Who’s the coaching master mind; Coach Thibodeau or Coach Popovich?

You may be thinking to yourself, pharmacy “isn’t Tim Duncan an NBA dinosaur?” If last season taught us anything, sale age does not defy Gregg Popovich and his Spurs who’s roster seemingly continues to get older and older, but these dudes (46-16) are chasing the Pacers and OKC Thunder for the best record in the league. Brace yourselves Bulls babes, it’s going to be a wild and crazy night on the United Center floor.

What You Need to Know: 

  • If you’re looking for the hottest center in the league, Chicago Noah’s someone. Jo-No is having a remarkable season and you can bet he’s coming out guns blazing after the Bulls emotional win over the Miami Heat on Sunday. We’d like to place an order for another triple-double with some blocks on the side por favor.
  • Watch Out For: Tony Parker (PG) and Kawhi Leonard (SG). Parker (AKA Eva Langoria’s ex) is one of the best PG’s in the league and also the leading scorer on the Spurs. Leonard will most likely be matched with Mike Dunleavy which means he may have more open shots than his other teammates.
  • Noah has some competition when it comes to rebounding. NBA veteran Tim Duncan (PF) is a big boy and knows his way around under the basket. Be prepared for some serious booty-boxing-out.

    Belinelli 3 point contest

    3-point Champ via MBeli3 Instagram

  • Familiar Faces: Marco Belinelli will return to the United Center for the first time since being traded to the Spurs. Bells didn’t let the trade bring him down. He won the 2014 three point contest and you can be sure he’s ready to show his old teammates his outside shooting.
  • Per usual, it’s going to be about the Bulls top defense holding the Spurs elite offense to a scoring minimum. Los Bulls have done it before this season back in January when they held San Antonio to their lowest scoring game of the season. It’s time for some Deja Vu.

Your Take Away Piece:

“Don’t let their age fool you, a matchup with the San Antonio Spurs is never just a walk in the park. If the Bulls play with the same heart, hustle and muscle that has been surging them throughout the season, it’s going to be a great game. If the Bulls come out tired or hesitant, the Spurs will exploit any weaknesses.”

What’s Next:

Everything goes down at 7:00 pm at the UC – be there or be tuned in on WGN to catch all the action. We #BULLieve

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Source: espn.com

It’s official Bulls fans, site our men in red will kick off their 2013-2014 season on October 29th in the exact same place last season’s playoff run was snapped – American Airlines Arena against the defending Champion Miami Heat. Clear your calendars ladies, viagra it doesn’t get any better than this!

It was just over a week ago that Derrick Rose self-proclaimed he is the best player in the league and now he has the perfect opportunity to back himself up. To be the best you have to beat the best, click and right now the reigning MVP Lebron James is sitting atop his NBA throne just waiting to be challenged.

We say, bring it King James.

The season opener won’t be Rose’s official “return” as he is slated to play during the Bulls’ preseason, but all eyes will be on the point guard to see how he matches up against the defending champs. The night will also feature the Heat accepting their championship rings and hoisting their banner – maybe tune in a few minutes late.

The NBA released the full 2013-2014 season schedules on Tuesday afternoon and the Bulls will be showcased quite a bit making 33 appearances on national broadcasts.

Games to Watch this Season:

  • October 31: Bulls will host the New York Knicks in their Halloween home opener at the United Center at 7 p.m.
  • December 25th: For the fourth straight year Chicago will participate in the NBA’s Christmas Day festivities facing a very revamped Brooklyn Nets team (Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce traded east coast cities over the off season). This will be the team’s first meeting since a battered Bulls team booted a healthy Nets team from the playoffs during the postseason.
  • March 7th – 17th: This Bulls homestand is a doozy. They take on five playoff teams over a 10 day span. You’ll see the Memphis Grizzilies, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and Oklahoma City Thunder. I’d recommend scoring some tickets to witness the action in person!

See full season schedule here: http://www.nba.com/bulls/schedule

Buckle up Bulls fans! It’s going to be an exciting season so make sure you’re ready for the wild ride.

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Pink's Pulse

Missed a few headlines this week? Worry not, viagra  I’ve got my finger on the sports pulse for you. Below is my weekly round-up of what’s trending in sports: perfect for water coolers, cocktail parties, sports bars and board rooms.

HOT

  • Bruins/Blackhawks Stanley Cup Finals tied at 2-2: Even though Game 4 was not an elimination game, I considered it a must-win for the Chicago Blackhawks. Brent Seabrook, yet again, showed up in overtime to lead the team to victory. The final two/three games of the NHL season are upon us, and the Blackhawks need us now more than ever. If a banged-up Hossa can get an assist, I hope a healthy one can actually score. The series returns to the Madhouse on Saturday, with standing room only tickets start around $350 and an actual seat will get you around $530 at this point.

    Source: USA Today Sports

  • The Heat repeat: Say it ain’t so. I feel that I can say, we all saw this one coming. The Miami Heat took their second straight NBA title on Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs. Sad moment for Bulls fans. Maybe this means that since Ray Allen got another championship, he and the rest of the bench posse will retire and get out of the way for the future Chicago Bulls. I, for one, am pretty excited it’s over with. Just think…the next Chicago Bulls game played is one with Derrick Rose. And I can’t wait.
  • Agent Jay-Z: Spokesman for Roc Nation Sports confirmed to ESPN.com this

    From Faniq.com

    week that Jay-Z is a licensed NBA and  MLB agent. Watch out sports world, Jay-Z is about to rock it. It’s rumored that Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant will sign with Jay-Z. Since Jay-Z committed to Roc Nation Sports, they’ve signed big name athletes like Jets QB Geno Smith and Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. This is only the start. I have a feeling that Jay-Z will eventually be stealing the best talent in the NBA and MLB to his firm. What this means? Maybe they’re appear in Justin Timberlake‘s new music videos?

COLD

  • Illini get a new QB: It’s not exactly ‘cold’ news, but it did happen earlier this week. It’s huge for University of Illinois fans. Former Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt has decided to transfer to Illinois, his home state. I can barely hold in my excitement, but not many people see the significance. Lunt started his freshman year and played against SEC schools, that’s a lot of experience that will help him in the Big 10 Conference. Lunt has great quarterback mechanics, and gives Illinois an honest chance to win. From Nathan Scheelhaase to Wes Lunt is gonna be a huge change. Get excited Illini fans!
  • Serena speaks her mind: Tennis pro Serena Williams got into some hot water this week by opening up her big mouth. Williams commented about the highly publicized Ohio rape case involving two high school boys raping a drunken 16-year old girl, saying, “she shouldn’t have put herself in that position.” Whoops. Williams apologized to the family about her comment. Not cool Serena. Simply, not cool.
  • Johnny Football is more like Johnny Feisty: Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel certainly loves Twitter, but he said tweeted something this week that really shocked people. He deleted it from his twitter but here is what he tweeted.. You have to think that Manziel knew that people were going to talk, and maybe that he loves the attention (good or bad I guess). It was later revealed what this tweet was actually about…a parking ticket for his windows being tinted. Although, most people thought this tweet had something to do with Manziel getting cozy with a teammates girlfriend…
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Lately, ask the Chicago Bulls have been toying with our emotions like a toxic ex-boyfriend. Last night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs was an emotional roller coaster as the Bulls built up our hopes, buy viagra only to let us down at the last minute when it really matters. The Bulls came out strong in the first half of Wednesday night’s matchup and then choked in the final stance, falling 101-83 on the road to the Spurs. It was honestly heartbreaking to watch.

Both teams were without their starting point guards, but the depleted Bulls just couldn’t close in on the Spurs when it counted. San Antonio racked up their third straight win at home and still holds the best record in the NBA at 48-14. The Bulls on the other hand need to do some soul searching before they dig a hole too deep to climb out of this season.

What You Need to Know: 

  • Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter were too hot to handle on the boards. Duncan finished with 18 points,10 rebounds and five blocks while Splitter racked up 13 points and 10 rebounds. Duncan may not be the youngest kid on the playground anymore, but the big man can definitely still throw down.

    Duncan

  • The Spurs depth is deadly. Manu Ginobili had an unbelievable game off the bench with 18 points and nine assists. Patty Mills, another San Antonio reserve, contributed 13 points and some clutch three-point shots in the final quarter to seal the deal.
  • The Italian Stallion Marco Belinelli (who started in place of the injured Rip Hamilton) led the Bulls with 21 points and seven assists. Luol Deng also put up some nice numbers with 19 points and seven rebounds.
  • Nate Robinson started at Point Guard for the injured Kirk Hinrich, but he took some wild shots during the first half and Tom Thibodeau went with rookie Marquis Teague to finish the game against San Antonio’s season veterans. Teague saw quite a few minutes tonight finishing with 11 points, but he got schooled a bit by the big men.
  • Are we sure Nazr Mohammed is honestly a professional basketball player? He seems more like a 6′ 10″ waste of space on the roster at this point. The guy is huge and can only manage a measly 2 points while he’s in backing up Joakim Noah.
  • Closing Woes: The Bulls were winning the game up until the end of the third quarter. They were only down 4 points going into the final 12 minutes and then San Antonio hit two back-to-back threes to steal any confidence Chicago was hanging onto. Boom goes the dynamite.

Your Take Away Piece: 

“The Spurs are a great team, the Bulls hung in there but fell apart in the second half. They handed the top dogs a big W on a shiny platter. You can’t win a game when you let your opponent go on a 14-0 run in the final minutes of the game. Chicago has to give 100% for the entire game, not just the first half.”

What’s Next:

Let’s hope Coach Thibs has some tricks up his sleeve because the Bulls need a big win fast. Hey DRose, it might be a great time to make your return to the court? Chicago has a day to recoup before they host the Utah Jazz at the United Center on Friday. Tip-off starts at 7 PM. Be sure to flip on CSN Chicago and enjoy the game with our favorite on-air duo Neil Funk and Stacey King.

 

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