The Bulls have turned me into a fan. I mean how can you not fall in love with these guys. They lose a carload of their best players, and yet, they beat the best team in the NBA, the Miami Heat in Miami.
Last night’s Bulls- Heat match-up was a sight to behold. Without a doubt, the Heat were rusty. They were missing shots all over the place, and the Bulls had their number defensively, as they did with the Nets. The Heat shot 39.7% for the game. They also shot only 68% in free throws. So granted, the stats make it obvious that the Heat were rusty after a long layoff, but even so, you have to marvel at what the Bulls did to them. Jimmy Butler played 48 minutes for the third game in a row, and was great. 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Joakim Noah was his usual smh-self, and you have to keep shaking your head at his heroics, but Nate Robinson is playing at a higher level in these playoffs than he ever has before. He has become a legitimate star in my opinion, filling in for Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich at point guard. Robinson had 27 points and 9 assists in game one vs. the Heat, and my bet is he’s just getting started.
I don’t think the Bulls will beat the Heat, but it’s possible they can take the series to seven games, as long as they keep playing like this. They took Chris Bosh out of the game with only 9 points and 6 rebounds. They out-rebounded the Heat by 14! The problem is the Bulls turned the ball over 15 times in game one, and that is just too many against the heat. Turnovers can create quick points for the opposition, and that’s where the Heat feast. Watch the turnover line to see how the Bulls do in game two.
Meanwhile, the Warriors- Spurs game was one for the ages. A double-overtime win by the Spurs that proved that the Spurs are still one of the best, again. Ginobili’s three point miss in the final 50 seconds only led to him hitting his next three pointer to win the game with 1.2 seconds left.
After the game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game, “I went from wanting to trade him on the spot to wanting to cook breakfast for him tomorrow morning…That’s the truth. When I talk to him and say, `Manu,’ he goes, `This is what I do.’ That’s what he’s going to tell me. I stopped coaching him a long time ago.”
In the history of the NBA, 392 teams trailed by 16 or more points in the last four minutes of a game. 392 had lost the game. The Spurs are the first time in history to beat that. Incredible.
Now the Knicks get another shot at MSG vs. the Pacers tonight, to even the series at 1-1. I predicted before the playoffs that game one would happen. And it will happen agian if the Knicks don’t move the ball around. All you had to do was watch either of the games last night to see the difference. Ball movement is crucial, and the Knicks forget to do that too often. If they keep doing “Iso-Melo” and “Iso-JR” ball, they will lose this series, I guarantee it.
As for the Pacers, credit them with gutsy, formidable play in the paint. Hibbert was a monsetr in game one vs. the Knicks, plugging up the middle like a tank, and stopping almost everything they threw at him. It was impressive. Game two should be a battle, as long as the Knicks play team ball.
It was uncanny how much game one for the Knicks looked like game seven for the Nets vs. the Bulls.
The Nets fell behind by 17 vs. the Bulls at home, and the Knicks fell behind by 16 vs. the Pacers. The two NY teams came within 4 and 6 points, but no closer, and both had sub-par games. The Nets from a lack of hustle, and the Knicks from a lack of smarts.
What was shocking for the knicks though, was that they were assembled to avoid playoff stupidity. Signing Jason Kidd, K-Mart, Camby, and Pablo Prigioni was supposed to bring playoff experience and success to the team. So what happened?
As for the OKC-Memphis series, could you ask for a closer game? Kevin Durant was magnificent as usual. And it was a thriller, going down to the buzzer. Don’t be surprised if Memphis takes tonight’s game. Every game could come down to the buzzer in this series.
In all four series, we have great match-ups, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see all four go to seven games. Though Golden State has the toughest hill to climb after losing that heartbreaker, something tells me that Coach Mark Jackson will get their heads in the right frame of mind to keep the confidence going.