D-Rose Out For Postseason

Funny how an injury to one guy can shake up the whole postseason. Derrick Rose tore his ACL with 1:10 left in game one against the 76’ers. He went up for a layup, and when he came down the whole building went silent with fear. Derrick Rose is out. What does that mean for the Bulls? Well, they can still beat the 76’ers considering they only have to win 3 games. They have homecourt advantage. And most of all they are used to playing sans Rose. They are 18-9 without Rose this season, meaning they have the players to step up and a strong enough defense to make up for his loss. Against the 76’ers the Bulls are safe. But when they reach the second round they will be beaten by the Celtics, considering they win their matchup against Atlanta. Without Rose against an intense, experienced team like the Celtics they don’t have a closer. A closer becomes less necessary when facing the 76’ers but against Boston they are going to need one.

This kind of paved the way for the rest of the playoffs in my mind. Heat beat the Knicks. Bulls beat Philly. Boston beats Atlanta. Indiana beats Orlando. Boston beats Chicago. Miami beats Indiana. Miami beats Boston. Miami loses to either OKC or the Spurs.

It’s terribly unfortunate for Chicago’s dreams to slip away so suddenly. They had the chance to win the NBA title this year but that was torn along with Rose’s ACL. I can’t believe he’s done, after such an extraordinary season for the Bulls, once again clinching the #1 seed in the East. This team is better then last year’s team as well, as a result of the addition of Rip Hamilton and the development of CJ Watson. They really had a chance, but like I said that’s all gone now.

Oh and on another note, I no longer give my coach of the year honors to Tom Thibodeau. Why the hell was Rose in the game when the Bulls were up 12 with a 1:10 remaining? Why wasn’t he resting his star for game 2? Why not play John Lucas III who hadn’t played a single minute in that game? Sending a no mercy message is a good way to begin a series, but at what cost? Certainly, the price of the title dreams is too steep. Just a silly mistake for a coach who had had a near perfect season up until now. Cheers to Gregg Popovich.

Regular Season Awards

As the season winds down it’s time for awards. You know that awkward time where you have to choose the select few who are worthy of recognition for their roles this year. I’m not one of those people who lighten the mood and say everyone’s a winner… everyone deserves it. Blah blah blah. No, so… let’s begin.

MVP: LeBron James

January Prediction: Kevin Durant

Honorable Mention: Kevin Durant

The fight for MVP has been close all season, going back and forth between candidates. But LeBron seemed to have that one extra special game over Durant and if you put things in perspective, for LeBron to get the numbers he does while playing with Bosh and Wade is surreal. Sharing the spotlight with 2 all-stars and still recording the same numbers when he was the lone star in Cleveland just shows the superiority LeBron has over the rest of the league.  His numbers scream dominance. Recording about 27 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists a game is astounding. And it doesn’t happen often. He gets that extra inch over Durant for two reasons. First, Durant is averaging about 28 points 8 rebounds but 3 assists. Their numbers are almost identical until the assist column hits us square in the face. LeBron manages to average 27 while leading his team in assists. Durant only averages 3. That’s what separates them; Durant’s game is still developing while LeBron’s game is so well rounded that he could play 4 positions on any team in the league. Second, the Miami Heat are currently on a 5 game winning streak with a good chance of grabbing the #1 seed in the East. Not to mention LeBron’s takeover of most of those games while Wade sat out. During all of this the Thunder have been a bit up and down and have lost their grip on the #1 seed. The success of the Heat has rested significantly on LeBron’s shoulders and he has risen to the challenge, Durant is a scorer first and an all around player second, so I guess LeBron continues his legacy with his third MVP. Only thing missing now is a… yeah I figure everyone was thinking it anyway, I won’t bother finishing the sentence.

Coach of the Year: Tom Thibodeau

January Prediction: Mike Brown

Honorable Mention: Gregg Popovich

When the Bulls surprised everybody last year with the best record in the East, we all pointed to Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau. Why wouldn’t we, I mean the MVP and the coach of the year led that team to a surprise takedown of the Eastern Conference let alone the league in a season where health was an issue for Rose’s two supporting guys. So this year when they still manage to grab the best record in the East while Rose missed 26 games we have to emphasize Tom Thibodeau’s effect on this team. They still managed to really dominate the league without their superstar. Their defense suffocated teams and their role players stepped up every night. How can any other coach win this award? No other coach had to deal with their star player missing almost half the season. No other coach would be capable of keeping his team in gear to a #1 seed in the East without his superstar. No coach would be able to enforce a top 5 defense without the leadership of their superstar. I applaud Tom Thibodeau’s work this year, it is something that is taken for granted. The way he managed to keep everybody focused and winning even with the absence of the league’s MVP. Look at the Bulls without Rose; they should be a downgrade from the 76’ers, however they ended up being an upgrade from the Heat.

Defensive Player of the Year: Tyson Chandler

January Prediction: Dwight Howard

Honorable Mention: Serge Ibaka

The reigning champions all hailed Tyson Chandler after their championship for being the X factor for their team. He was praised for being the guy that brought toughness, grit and a defensive mindset to a relatively soft team. They worshipped him in Dallas for turning their team into a defensive monster. We recognized him for that last season, however this season the definition of ‘X Factor’ was taken to a whole new level. The Knicks ranked 28th last year in points allowed with a discouraging 105.7 points per game. However, this year since the addition of Chandler and partially Shumpert the Knicks rank 13th in points allowed with 94. 84 points a game. For those who aren’t too fond of math, that’s a 10.86 difference from last year to this last year. The Knicks have become one of the best defensive teams in the league through Chandler’s input vocally and physically. He is exactly the player the Knicks needed. I mean it almost sounds wrong, to be calling the Knicks a good defensive team but strangely enough they are. This season the Knicks have given up an average of 116.5 points per game in the 4 games that Chandler hasn’t played so. His impact on this team is undeniable and his emphasis on the defensive end has completely reshaped the Knicks’ culture. Even his individual stats scream defensive stopper. Averaging 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game this season. Sure Ibaka may be blocking every shot that is comes into the paint, he hasn’t transformed the team defensively. They’ve been consistent defensively for years, and he has a whole team full of defensive oriented players, while Chandler is dealing with a mainly offensive minded squad.

Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving

January Prediction: Iman Shumpert/Kemba Walker

Honorable Mention: Kenneth Faried

To be honest I think this race was decided once Rubio busted his knee earlier this season. Kyrie Irving has been playing like a veteran. There are no signs of immaturity and he has taken on the responsibility of carrying a Lebronless Cleveland team who are still sulking over the man who has the same amount of hair as he does rings. He doesn’t seem to be phased by any pressure. Look January 29th vs. Boston, or March 7th vs. Denver. He not only gave hope to a essentially depressed Cleveland fan base but he averaged about 19 points, 4 assists and 5 and a half rebounds a game. He will only continue to develop in the future, and could easily be an all-star by next season.

Most Improved Player: Jeremy Lin

January Prediction: Ryan Anderson/Kyle Lowry

Honorable Mention: Ersan Ilyasova

Wow. I mean really though. Wow. It’s unbelievable. It is, for a lack of a better pun, a Linderella story. In fact it’s Linsane. It’s Linsanity, I tell you. Linsanity. He’s the only player I use on my Lintendo DS nowadays. (I’m on a roll,) ok but back to his season. First off, he probably got a lot of NBA scouts fired. He embarrassed Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, and Deron Williams and brought the Knicks much needed success. I don’t think a most improved player award could go to someone more worthy. He didn’t let his past failures stop him from being successful. He kept striving and working and eventually found an invaluable spot on a team that needed him more then anybody can measure in wins and losses. I also don’t think any player has defined this award better then Jeremy Lin did this year. A most improved player award is given to a player who strives to success and isn’t content with his production. Jeremy Lin went from the guy at the end of the bench whose ear you maybe see on the corner of your screen, to a guy who had the whole world begging for interviews and hailing at his feet. Last year he averaged 9 minutes per game in 29 games for Golden State and only averaged 3 points, 1 steal and 1 assist. This season he played 35 games started 25 games and averaged 15 points, 6 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Before the all-star break the Knicks had a 12-3 record with Lin playing major minutes. He holds the record for most points scored in his first 5 starts with 136 total points. Some might counter with he only played three weeks in this season. They would have a point if they wanted to deprive Lin of this award, he did miss a significant chunk of the season. I just think his season can’t be dismissed without an award.

6th Man Of The Year: James Harden

January Prediction: James Harden

Honorable Mention: Lou Williams

James Harden is no doubt the unsung hero on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Imagine how selfless a player has to be to accept a 6th man role when he could be the best player on more then half of the teams in the league. He is the epitome of providing energy and scoring off the bench. He has averaged about 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists a game. He just continues to grow… a beard and as a player. He is the X factor for this team and could very well be the difference makers in a close series come playoff time. No team in the NBA can match his intensity off the bench, which puts everyone at a disadvantage when they play their second unit. Nobody can really handle him. He is a lockdown defender, a part of his game that isn’t mentioned enough. He’s also versatile scorer. If he keeps this role throughout the rest of his career he could possibly win this award every year for the next half of a decade. As well as being on several all-star teams in the future.

If you disagree with these conclusions, feel free to comment with your opinion. And hey, while you’re at it, subscribe. Hit that subscribe button that says Hell Yes! I want to subscribe. I won’t let you down.

Help!

13 seconds were left on the clock. The crowd was silent, anxiously awaiting the shot that was supposed to take the Bulls a step closer to the championship. They waited 8 more seconds, until the ball was put in the hands of their saviour. Derrick Rose. He dribbled to the left wing. He bent his knees, and released. The Chicago fans opened their eyes to see the ball being blocked by Lebron James, the enemy in their minds. The buzzer rang, and that was it. The end for Chicago.

A shame, losing this series was a real disappointment to Chicago. They thought this was their year. Coach Thibodeau won Coach of the Year. Derrick Rose won MVP. They were the #1 seed in the NBA. Even Michael Jordan said they were going to win the championship.

Every team has to go up the mountain before their at the top.That’s the step the Bulls are currently taking.

It was clear to me in the last 5 minutes of game 5 that Derrick Rose needed help. Defense can win you as many games as you like but when your team is in crunch time, with the ball in your hands, it’s offense you need.

Derrick Rose did everything he could possibly do in the last 5 minutes. He drove in and tried to get the call. He passed to the open man on the pick and roll. He passed it to Kyle Korver for one of his invaluable threes. Nothing would break the Heat’s defense. D-Rose is amazing, he is a wonderful young talent, but no player can go one on 5 in crunch time and win a game. He tried but unfortunately failed.

He needs help. On offense, D-Rose needs help. Luol Deng will produce a solid 18-20 points per game, Joakim Noah gets a solid 10 but where is the offensive force that could help D-Rose when he really needs it. Which brings me to my point.

Last offseason, the free agency market was filled with all-stars. Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire, the Big 3, Ray Allen, Manu Ginobli and many strong role players

The Bulls were in need of a low post offensive presence to battle with the elite teams. Or so they said. I believed they didn’t need to invest their money in a low post threat when they have Taj Gibson developing into a low post force. When there are 6+ all stars on the market, and your team has apparently the best presentation of most teams with cap space. You don’t waste your money on Carlos Boozer. You just don’t. He may be a good post player, and may have been a 16 and 10 guy in Utah but you evidently need scoring at the shooting guard position. Why didn’t they fish for those types of players.

They may have went a bit wrong with their choice last offseason. That’s ok, it’s part of being a young organization. Carlos Boozer missed half of the season this year and only produced about 14 points and 8 rebounds when he was playing. He didn’t help Rose offensively, or beat players down low like he was supposed to. If you compared Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer this season you’ll see that they’re numbers are very similar. Maybe Taj will be the next Boozer, who knows.

For now, I think the Beatles said it best. ” Help, I need somebody, help!”

Rose or Lebron?

Who would you rather take? If you were starting an NBA team who would you rather take Lebron or Rose. They’ve both been MVP’s. Let’s compare.

I think there is an upside to Rose and Lebron. We’ll start with Rose.

He’s definitely a leader, he’s taken the Bulls all the way to the conference finals this year with a team most people expected to be first round exits. He took them to the #1 seed in the NBA and in the process he managed to just win the MVP.With Rose you get a lot of things. He’s the fastest player in the league. He blows by a whole team on a fast break and when he gets to the rim he’s one of the best. He could throw it down with sheer force or lay it in with agile grace. His leadership abilities are unfathomable for a player of his age and with his experience. He’s only in his third season, I think people forget that. He’s 22 years old and is being compared to all time greats. His leadership abilities are what make him one of a kind. In every interview he’s had all year he’s never mentioned himself in the Bulls success but his teammates and coaching staff. He often apologizes for mistakes publicly and privately after games. Whether it be too many turnovers or too many shots, he calls himself out whenever he makes mistakes. He holds his teammates accountable and himself accountable for all mistakes made. He’s only 22 but it looks like he’s been leading an NBA team for 10 years. His passing is an underrated aspect of his game. People usually mention D-Rose in the context of amazing athlete, MVP, scorer. Passer doesn’t usually come up. Maybe it’s because he only averages 8 assists per game. It’s not the assists that define his passing skills but his eye for the game. He sees holes in the defense, he can anticipate movement, he can spot the open man. He isn’t flashy like Steve Nash or CP3 but simple and basic and that gets the job done. Coaches like Tom Thibodeau stress keeping it simple. Even if he’s not getting the assist he is getting it to a teammate who can get the assist. He often passes to players who need to get warmed up. Then there is his scoring. When he came into the league people doubted his shot. They said he couldn’t shoot the three or shoot the mid range jumper consistently. This season he kicked dirt in the haters mouths and proved them wrong. He’s been knocking down open shots like it’s natural.

Then there are his flaws. Every player has flaws, they’re human, D-Rose has very little. One is his turnovers. On many occasions D-Rose gave the ball up around 5-6 times. Much more than is usual for a point guard in the NBA. It’s not sloppy dribbling or careless passes that can be the blame. It’s his speed and his movement. He’s always moving, very rarely do we see Rose standing around except for if he’s on the bench. He’s so fast that sometimes the ball can’t keep up with him which is when the ball goes out of control and it results in 2 points for the other team. Another flaw is his jump-shooting. It’s a strength when he’s on, but when he’s off it’s not pretty to watch. He’ll brick shot after shot and teams often take advantage of it. Helping them play off D-Rose more. One of his flaws that some people haven’t picked up on is his inability to be effective against very tough defenses. If he can’t be effective enough he kind of shuts down almost. He doesn’t produce in many other ways and he starts turning the ball over. That may be a sign of his youth but against the Heat he surely hasn’t put up MVP type numbers. He hasn’t helped them doing the small things even though he’s been ineffective. This isn’t the time to choke, Derrick. He needs to play like he has all season in the next few games.

Lebron: He’s the two time MVP at the age of 26. He was second in MVP voting this year, some of it I think was the hate from the media from his decision this summer. If the MVP was measured in stats then Lebron would win by a mile. His strengths are too many to list. He’s almost the perfect type player. He’s a team player while being a dominant scorer whenever he wants to be. He’s a tough defender, a persistent rebounder and artist on the break. He could play 4 positions and could be the best at each position in the league if he wanted to be. The strengths start at his passing. He will be in the top 5 in most assists once it’s all said and done. He averaged 7 assists in almost every season in the league, he finds every teammate on the team. In so many different ways. Maybe it’s an entry pass to the post. An alley hoop pass to D-Wade on the break. A dish out from penetration to Mike MIller on the perimeter. He’s a silky passer while being aggressive in getting his teammates involved in what he does. If he took less shots he could have a great chance of averaging a triple-double. Then his defense. A lot of superstars put more effort on the offensive end then the defensive end. He puts more in on defense. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen him chase down players for a monster block. Or cut off someones lane to the basket,  or steals a pass that nobody saw coming. He sees the whole game in slow motion and he uses that skill to his advantage to excell on defense. Then there is his biggest strength. He is such a talented scorer it seems like his was born to be one. He has the strongest penetration in the league and he gets to the line almost every time or he will just forget about the 7 footers in front of the hoop and dunk on them. Or he’ll take you off the dribble. Go through both legs, behind the back, gather dribble back, fake a shot, get you in the air and drain the mid range jumper. Or he’ll recieve it in the post. Look back, fake left, and drain a fade away to the right. Or his specialty. He’ll steal it on defense and jolt up court for an agile finish or a monster dunk. There really is no way to guard him, if you pressure him too much then he’ll drive by you. If you give him too much room then he’ll drain the jumper.

Then the flaws. His three point jump shot is below average. This is a big hole in his game. He’ll maybe make 4 out of 10 three pointers. Teams are afraid to give it to him because his offense is good enough to surprise everybody but his three point jumper is inconsistent and teams should give it to him. Another flaw is his rare choke at the end of games. I don’t believe all this stuff about him giving up in tough games. It’s not true, it’s just some dumb critique to stir up some argument. He does get nervous in clutch situations some times. Like the 5 game losing streak the Heat faced in the middle of the season. Lebron had clutch moments against New York and Chicago but was unable to take the game.

So who would I rather take. Lebron. No question. He has the passing skills of Steve Nash, the shooting touch of Ray Allen the drives of Derrick Rose with the rebounding ability of Charles Barkley. His IQ is unbelievable for a 26 year old. D-Rose is up and coming but he was called the King for a reason.

Heat-Bulls Series Preview.

Exciting match-ups have filled the playoffs this year, but this series could be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. We have the MVP from this season in Derrick Rose playing against the MVP of last season in Lebron James. We have two all-star caliber power forwards matching up, in Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh. We have the two best finishers in the game in Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose. We have the coach of the year, in Tom Thibodeau against the co-executive of the year in Pat Riley. We have the best defensive team in the NBA in the Bulls against the 3rd best defensive team in the NBA in the Heat. We have the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, in the Bulls against the number 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, in the Heat. Most of all, we have two very hungry, talented teams hoping to reach the finals, and hopefully win an NBA championship.

It’s not going to be an easy series to win for either team. The Heat have played like the team to beat in this postseason, they’ve beat the 76ers in 5 games as well as the defending Eastern Conference Champs in 5 games. The Bulls have played lockdown defense this postseason, but haven’t played like the number 1 seed in the NBA at all.They struggled in the 1st round against Indiana, they beat them 4-1 but in their first 3 wins they won by a total of 15 points. In the second round they struggled at times against the Hawks, but seemed to re-gather their swag, in game 6. This matchup is very interesting because these teams have two completely different specialties. The Bulls pride themselves in their defense, they have the best defensive mastermind in the NBA as their head coach, which is why they are the number 1 defensive team in the NBA. Their offense has been weak at some times in this postseason but it’s their rock solid defense that keeps them winning.The Heat on the other hand, although are a very strong defensive team, they’re speciality lies on the offensive end. The athleticism of Lebron, Wade and Bosh are perfect for fast breaking, and fast tempo offense, of which the Heat are the best at.

For the Heat to win this series they’re going to need Wade to take over his mismatch at shooting guard. He’ll either be guarded by, Keith Bogans or Ronnie Brewer. Neither of which are quick or athletic enough to keep on Wade. If D-Wade can take advantage of the mismatches then the Heat will be in very good shape going forward. Also, Bosh is going to need to be very aggressive inside if the Heat want to win. The Bulls have a top 5 interior defense, with Omer Asik, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. Bosh has been criticized for being too soft during the season, if he plays soft against the Bulls tough interior D then the Heat can kiss goodbye to the finals. Another thing that the Heat will need to do is get some bench production. They’re going up against the most productive bench in the league, the Bulls bench plays tough defense, and smart, efficient offense. This series could easily go to the Bulls if the Heat’s bench can’t provide numbers when the Big 3 are on the bench. The last thing the Heat have to do to win this series is to keep D-Rose under control. The MVP has been averaging about 29 points and 8 assists this post-season. He needs to be stopped, if the Heat can keep him out of the paint then that’s the best way to limit Roses production. He has improved his midrange jumper and 3 point jumper but most of his points come from the line and from lay-ups.

It’s a different story for the Bulls.They’re going up against the best offensive duo in the league. They’re going to need Luol Deng to step up on defense. He is a top class defender but to take on Lebron James for a 7 game playoff series, it’s going to take a lot of energy out of him. He has to come out every night and think less about his offense and much more about his defensive game to hold of LBJ. Which will put a lot more pressure on D-Rose to play offense. I think they’ll be up for the challenge though. Derrick Rose has to take advantage of the mismatch at point-guard. He didn’t really take advantage against Jeff Teague enough, but here he has another chance. He will be guarded by a veteran in Mike Bibby or a turnover prone Mario Chalmers. Neither of them can keep up with his electrifying penetration or fancy dribbling. I am looking for D-Rose to average 30 points a game in this series, he will be guarded by lesser players and he’s going to show everyone that he deserved the MVP against the former MVP. For the Bulls to win then they also need their young core of big men to take advantage of the slow, and veteran Miami big men. The Bulls have 4 core big men in Omer Asik, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson all of which are under 30. The Heat big men are Zydranus Ilgauskas, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh, Erick Dampier and Joel Anthony. The Bulls big men are quicker and more athletic and should try to beat the Heat in the low post. They’re bench is going to have to play like they’ve never played before. They’re younger, more athletic, and just better players all around. They have to play as a unit. That’s the Bulls biggest advantage in this series, it’s their depth. They’re depth is their bench and their bench will win them this game along with their defense and hustle plays. The most important things for the Bulls is to continue to do the things they’re known for, like tapping back offensive rebounds, playing lockdown defense, and passing with lots of ball movement. They can shut down any team, they need to do the same with the heat.

I’m very excited for this matchup, there is so much talent between these two teams. I just think that the Bulls’ defense and bench production will be too much for the Heat squad and their big 3.  If I had to make a prediction right now, I’d have to say the Heat’s star power will be just too much for the Bulls. Heat in 7.

– Max