Tag:Conference Semifinals
Posted on: May 3, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 2:54 pm
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No swelling, X-rays negative on Rose's ankle

Posted by Royce Young

Not that it matters, because Derrick Rose was playing regardless what it said, but the X-rays on his tweaked left ankle came back negative.

No MRI is planned. Officially, he's listed as day-to-day. It was also reported that there was no swelling in Rose's ankle and he practiced without a hitch today.

Rose tweaked his previously sprained ankle in the last five seconds of Monday's Game 1 loss to the Hawks when he stepped on Jamal Crawford'd foot. Just an unlucky play at about the worst possible time. Not only did the Bulls lose, but as the final seconds ticked off, Rose was sent limping off the court. Double ouch.

He'll play in Game 2, no doubt. But don't think this is insignificant. Once you sprain an ankle, the ligaments loosen up and the structure is weakened. So the chances of re-tweaking or re-rolling it are always good. Rose was mostly healthy in Game 1, but struggled shooting the ball going 11-27 for 24 points. We'll just have to wait and see his effectiveness in the next one.

Game 2 versus the Hawks is Wednesday.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 3:21 am
Edited on: May 3, 2011 12:44 pm
 

Playoff Fix: Celtics look to flip momentum

The Boston Celtics look to even their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.  

pierce-game-1

MIAMI LEADS 1-0


One Big Thing:  Game 1 win was all about the Big Mo: Momentum. It was the perfect, confidence-boosting start for the Heat. Their dominant, level-headed performance in a physical game went a long way in answering questions about whether they'd fall apart or get bullied in the big moment. The Heat's bench production -- spearheaded by James Jones -- proved they're capable of playing a full 48-minute game against Boston. Game 2 should serve as a hinge on the series. If Miami can repeat -- or approximate -- their Game 1 performance, Boston will be facing an inordinate amount of pressure when the series returns to Massachusetts. If Boston manages to even things up, all of Miami's old doubts -- Are we deep enough? Are we tough enough? Can we win on the road? -- will arise again.

 The X-Factor:  Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has been identified as the single X-Factor in the Eastern Conference playoffs since back in early April. That's only more true now that the Celtics are staring at the potential of an 0-2 deficit. In Game 1, Rondo was limited by foul trouble and shot poorly, finishing with eight points on 3-for-10 shooting. The Celtics never need him to be a go-to scoring threat, but he should dominate his match-up against the likes of Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers. But sometimes it's as simple as staying on the court. Rondo played just 32 minutes, making it difficult for Boston to establish its offensive rhythm and dictate tempo, especially given the emotionally charged Game 1 atmosphere and the fact that Dwyane Wade was having a Supermanlike game for the Heat. 

The Adjustment:  I hate to make this one about the officials, but the biggest adjustment will be in how these two teams are treated by the zebras. In Game 1, four technical fouls and a flagrant foul were dished out, but the league office stepped in after the fact to downgrade and rescind some of the harsher in-game rulings. Boston, clearly, is hoping the game is whistled a bit more loosely, so that there isn't a repeat of Paul Pierce's needless ejection. 

The Sticking Point:  Will Wade fall back to Earth? And, if so, how far will he fall? He was dominant with the ball and with his play-making. He set up LeBron James beautifully on multiple occasions while making Ray Allen's life miserable. This is where the whack-a-mole Magic of the Big 3 comes into play. Should the Celtics devote more attention to Wade, they'll be opening doors for James, who had an off night by his standards, scoring 22 points on 19 shots, and Chris Bosh, who was big on the glass but provided little scoring pop. Miami needed every last Wade bucket on Game 1. He did his part. Who's up next?


Posted on: May 3, 2011 2:37 am
Edited on: May 3, 2011 2:54 am
 

Ugly Lakers collapse unlikely to happen again

The Los Angeles Lakers collapsed in ugly fashion in Game 1 against the Dallas Mavericks. Posted by Ben Golliver.

After Monday night's debacle, Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson didn't mince words: "We felt like we gave the game away."

The Lakers lost to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, 96-94, and to say they collapsed would be an understatement. L.A. was in full command of the game shortly after halftime, leading by as many as 16 points in the third quarter. To get to that point, they hadn't played particularly well. Sure, it was clear from the opening tip that the Mavericks will struggle to check Kobe Bryant, and that Lamar Odom looked poised to be a two-way force in this series. But this wasn't Showtime success, by any means. 

Leading big while not playing spectacularly early is one of those "fork in the road" moments in the NBA. You can either step on the gas and blow the game open or you can let up and set yourself up for some unnecessary dramatics. In Game 1, the Lakers obviously took the latter route, but the manner in which they gave away their lead was stunningly bad.

At times, it was almost childish. 

The Lakers scored just four points in the game's final 5 minutes, as Bryant shot 2-6 during the closing stretch. To compound those shooting woes, the Lakers committed two unforgiveable turnovers in the game's final 20 seconds. 

First, Bryant drove to the basket and sloppily attempted a kick-out pass through traffic that was intercepted by Mavericks guard Jason Terry. The mistake had Bryant hopping mad, literally, but there was nothing he could do to take it back. He looked like he was living a nightmare. 

Then, with less than 10 seconds to play, Lakers forward Pau Gasol fumbled an exchange with Bryant near the three-point line, the ball slipping through his hands as Bryant fell to the floor, his feet getting tripped up with those of Mavericks guard Jason Kidd. A foul could have been called, but close-up replay shows Bryant mostly tripping over his own feet. After Gasol's thoughtless bumbling, Kidd emerged from the pack with the ball and the Lakers were forced to foul so that they would have one final crack at a game-winning or game-tying attempt. 



To add to the absurdity, that play wasn't even Gasol's biggest goof in the game's closing minute. On the previous possession he carelessly fouled Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki on an inbounds play, putting the German All-Star on the free-throw line. Nowitzki made both to put the Mavericks up for the first time since late in the second quarter.



Game 1 felt over before Bryant missed a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. The mistakes came so fast and furious they were difficult to process. The Basketball Gods rarely reward that type of recklessness.

Really, it's a given that the Lakers will play better than they did in Game 1 throughout the rest of the series. To play worse, they would have to wear clown outfits and show up riding mini-tricycles. That Dallas was only able to eek this out at the end by two points -- even when it was gifted to them -- speaks to the disparity in talent between these two teams. 
Posted on: May 3, 2011 2:08 am
 

Kobe gets a great look to win, somehow misses

Posted by Royce Young



According to most every casual NBA and Los Angeles Laker fan, the Lakers had the Mavericks right where they wanted them. Or at the least, in an advantageous spot. L.A. was down two with 3.1 seconds left.

Meaning it was Mamba Time.

We've all seen Kobe Bryant hit big shots time after time. He's done it my team, he's done it to your team. The image of him drilling a huge crunch-time shot is emblazoned into our brains. Ask most anyone that hasn't ever heard of 82games.com or has a Synergy Sports account and they'll tell you Kobe is the most clutch player since Michael Jordan.

And in some ways, he is. I mean, you let me pick one guy to take and make a shot with a few seconds left and I'm probably going to come back to Kobe. Still, a ton of research and a ton of great sportswriting has sort of debunked the Kobe in the clutch thing. A big reason for it is because the Lakers tend to go away from the offense that makes them so tough to defend and basically it turns into Kobeball. His ball-hogging bogs down the Lakers and in the clutch -- defined as the last five minutes of a game within five points -- the Lakers' offensive efficiency takes a massive hit.

Monday though, down two with a couple seconds left, the Lakers drew one up for you-know-who and it was a beauty. After Kobe caught the ball, I would assume every Dallas Maverick fan there is immediately sensed the worst coming. Kobe had a clean look and we all just knew we were about to watch the latest signature Kobe in the clutch moment.

Except a funny thing happened. He missed. Just barely, but he did.

A shame too, because what a great play it was. Andrew Bynum completely swallowed Jason Kidd whole, Derek Fisher delivered the ball on time and Kobe got a clean look. That, was a great play. That, was a great look. If Kobe nails it, we're all talking about The Black Mamba for a few days and bringing up names like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and every other big playoff shotmaker. But he missed it. It happens. Still, a great look for him.
Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:33 pm
 

Playoff Fix: Thunder must bounce back

Posted by Royce Young



MEMPHIS LEADS 1-0


One Big Thing: I hate calling games a "must-win" when in reality, they aren't must-win at all. I mean, the Thunder aren't eliminated if they lose Tuesday.

But really, they might as well be. Lose Tuesday at home again to the Grizzlies and winning this series is near impossible. It's not the end of the world to drop Game 1 and give away homecourt advantage. Teams survive that sort of thing. The Lakers did this season against the Hornets. Though with the way the Grizzlies seemed to dominate, Thunder fans have to be a bit anxious.

The pressure will be on in OKC Tuesday. It's not win or go home. It's just win at home.

The X-Factor:
Pack the paint. Memphis scored 52 in the painted area in Game 1 and really just chewed up the Thunder inside. The Grizzlies aren’t a proficient 3-point shooting team (just 3.8 3-point makes per game, last in the league). In the postseason, the Grizzlies rank dead last in both attempts and makes, by pretty wide margins. They don’t want to shoot from outside. They want to score in the paint. It’s just a matter of you stopping them.

The Adjustment: Dig down and maybe even double Zach Randolph . This is something the Thunder doesn’t like doing much of, especially since acquiring Kendrick Perkins. Even after his terrific game yesterday, I still think Serge Ibaka can defend Randolph to a degree, but having the guards dig down and show double-teams could maybe force him to give the ball up some.

Randolph isn’t a big guy that’s prone to turn the ball over (2.0 per game during the regular season) and passes well out of a double-team. It’s worth a shot to at least try and force him to give it up. When he’s got his lean-back jumper going, he’s impossible to defend. The only way you can stop him is if you keep the ball away from him.

The Sticking Point: The Grizzlies took care of the ball Sunday only turning it over eight times while forcing 18 against the Thunder. Russell Westbrook had seven on his own. OKC has to do a better job handling the Grizzlies' pressure. The Thunder offense was decent but it could've been a lot better had they not turned it over so much. Same thing with the defense. Memphis had an offensive rating of 123.48, but if the Thunder forces a handful of turnovers, that number drops. Kevin Durant did fine scoring the ball and Westbrook added a good secondary punch. Bad defense, too many turnovers and a lack thereof on the other end did OKC in. Fix some of that and the Thunder can get back in this.
Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:13 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 11:47 pm
 

The Bulls looked exactly the same vs. the Hawks

Posted by Royce Young



Even after the Bulls dispatched the 37-win Pacers in five games, something just didn't look right. Maybe it was because three of the wins were so close to loses. Maybe it's because they lost once. Maybe it's because we expected more from the league's best regular season team.

We all expected a different Chicago team. I know I did. I tried to put my finger on it for five games against the Pacers, but something was just missing in that Indiana series. I figured it started to get sorted out in the Game 5 blowout clincher. And with a few days off, I figured the Bulls would be completely prepared for the Hawks.

Wrong.

The Hawks dominated early, starting the game on an 11-0 run before withstanding a strong surge by the Bulls in the third to win 103-95 and take a 1-0 series lead. Just like that, the Hawks snatched homecourt advantage from the Bulls and may have taken a little of their confidence with it too.

Because one team looked like the No. 1 seed and it wasn't the one in home whites. Derrick Rose was, well, awful. He went just 11-27 from the floor, for 24 points (no free throw attempts). The Chicago defense was carved up by solid floor spacing and good Atlanta shooting. Joe Johnson had maybe the best game in his playoff career; scoring 34 on 12-18 from the field (including an impressive 5-8 from midrange). The Hawks shot 51 percent, won the rebounding battle, turned it over just 10 times and made their free throws. A total recipe for a road win.

But, back to the Bulls. I'm the type of person that really hesitates on ever hitting the panic button. And it's still in another room for me right now in regard to the Bulls. But it's hard not to at least be alarmed about Chicago. Because they didn't improve. They didn't adjust. They didn't correct the issues that plagued them against Indiana.

They relied entirely too much on Rose's playmaking ability and appeared to almost assume they could stop the Hawks offense. It was like they didn't realize that Atlanta is actually pretty good. The energy and effort was there. It was more about a lack of preparation, execution and shot-making. The Bulls failed in all three areas.

The Pacers seemed to diagram out a good way to beat the Bulls: control tempo, funnel Rose into contested jumpers, try and keep him off the free throw line and force them to execute good offense in the halfcourt in big moments. Force the Bulls into relying entirely on Rose's ability, and take away Chicago's key advantages. The Pacers did well for the most part there, but they couldn't finish. They didn't have the horses to get to the end.

The Hawks, though, have players. They've got talent. Between Johnson, Al Horford, Jamal Crawford and Josh Smith, the Hawks can ball. Remember how not having Kirk Hinrich was seen as a big blow? All Jeff Teague did was score 10 points and dish out five assists with only one turnover. The Hawks were ready. And they took it to the Bulls.

By no means is this series over. Just like the favored Thunder who dropped Game 1 at home to Memphis Sunday, things can turn around quickly. But what this means is that Chicago has a very, very important game Wednesday night. Immediately the Bulls have put themselves into a must-win situation. Lose Wednesday and that panic button gets a whole lot bigger, and I might not be able to keep myself from punching it.

Tom Thibodeau was presented his 2010-11 Coach of the Year award before the game Monday night. It's time for him to really earn it. The Bulls have to move past the issues from the Indiana series. They've got to make some adjustments. In Game 1 versus Atlanta, there weren't any from the opening round. And the Bulls paid for it.
Posted on: May 2, 2011 10:51 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 12:10 am
 

Derrick Rose tweaks ankle, will get X-Rays

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose tweaked his left ankle during Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick got some good news on Monday: He will reportedly be named the NBA's MVP on Tuesday. 

Rose got some bad news too: He tweaked his left ankle in the closing seconds of Monday night's Game 1 loss to the Atlanta when he stepped on Hawks guard Jamal Crawford's foot.

With the Bulls trailing 103-95, Rose gave chase near midcourt, attempting to pressure the ball as the final seconds ticked down. Crawford retreated to center court and Rose's left foot came down on Crawford's right foot. Rose immediately reacted as if in pain and he was surrounded by teammates and members of the coaching staff on the court as the buzzer sounded. He eventually walked off the court under his own power.

ESPNChicago.com reported after the game that Rose will undergo X-rays on the ankle and could get an MRI as well.
Rose said he'll get an X-ray on Monday and perhaps an MRI on Tuesday. "Don't know [what happened], just came over, tried to steal the ball," Rose said. "Twisted it somehow."
Rose said he'll get treatment "from morning to night, and then you go home, the same thing. I've got a machine I take home with me, and I just ice my foot the whole day."
Rose turned the same ankle back on April 24 during Game 4 of Chicago's first round series against the Indiana Pacers. He underwent an MRI on his ankle, which came back negative, and he didn't miss any time. On the year, Rose appeared in 81 of Chicago's 82 games.

The Hawks held on to take a 1-0 series lead, winning 103-95. Unfortunately for Rose and the Bulls, it's a quick turnaround prior to Game 2, which is scheduled for Wednesday night in the United Center. Game 3 is scheduled for Friday night in Atlanta.

Rose finished with 24 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and two steals in 41 minutes.

Here's video of Rose's ankle injury.



Further updates with post-game quotes as soon as they become available.
Posted on: May 2, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 2:00 pm
 

Boozer likely to play in Game 1 versus Hawks

Posted by Royce Young

Word broke over the weekend that Carlos Boozer's seemingly minor turf toe injury actually included a torn ligament, which put his status for Game 1 tonight against the Hawks in question.

But according to the Chicago Tribune, Boozer is going to try and play.

Chicago survived with Boozer on the bench with a number of different injuries during the regular season and made it through the Pacers in five despite limited production. But they need him. They need him if they're going to make a real run at the title. Not just on the court, but healthy and productive. Ligament damage in a toe could be really devastating in that regard.

Kurt Thomas, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson have done admirable jobs filling in behind Boozer and Chicago's frontcourt depth with provide some ease, but still, we're talking about an $80 million player here. The Bulls need him and they need him healthy. It's definitely something to keep an eye on.
 
 
 
 
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