Tag:Joel Anthony
Posted on: May 27, 2011 1:47 am
Edited on: May 27, 2011 2:11 am
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NBA Finals: Heat, Mavs make a battle of closers

Finals will feature battle of great closers in Heat, Mavericks.

Posted by Matt Moore

You want a story for  the Finals? How's this. 

"No lead is safe."

The 2011 NBA Finals will feature two teams riding some of the strongest fourth quarter and final minutes play in recent history, maybe ever. Both teams absolutely crushed their opponents in the final minutes of the Conference Finals. You can talk about the inexperience they faced to get to the Finals, but the reality is that both teams crushed their opponents with long runs to close out big deficits and crush their opponent... multiple times.

The Finals set up an epic battle of notable clutch players. Dirk Nowitzki is on a roll of epic proportions at the moment, absolutely unstoppable with a seven foot frame and the single best jumper in the NBA. Jason Terry has been known to absolutely take over fourth quarters with huge shots. Jason Kidd won't wow you with 3-pointers (well, except you, Thunder, sorry), but he will always, always, always make the right decision and as Derrick Rose showed in the East. That's big. And Shawn Marion's clutch play has been quietly the defensive counterpart to Dirk Nowitzki. For the Heat? James, all day. LeBron has been another creature all-together in the fouth quarter of these playoffs. He hasn't just closed out, he's decided games are over and then made it so. Dwyane Wade had terrible quarters 1-3 in Games 4 and 5, and yet closed out the fourth and overtimes to make the difference. Even Chris Bosh has been clutch. 

There's not a player on either team you're concerned about in the key moments right now. Not one that will get the ball anyway. Defensively, Miami's got the edge, but the Thunder didn't fall apart on their own. These are veteran teams with amazing players, primed to finish strong.

These Finals may not be close. But if the game is within five after three quarters, heck, if it's within 20 after three quarters, neither team can feel safe. Each team will put the pedal down. For the Mavericks, it will be Dirk Nowitzki trying to overcome a much better set of defenders and the Mavericks using the inevitable doubles to find the open corner shooter. For the Heat? Just standing back and watching James and Wade do their thing. Can the Heat really stop Nowitkzi? Hard to see anyone playing better defense than Nick Collison did and Dirk made him look silly. Can anyone stop LeBron James right now?

No, really, can anyone, anywhere, stop LeBron James right now?

This isn't just the two best teams of the playoffs meeting to decide the title, it's the two teams who have shown consistently they want the game more, know how to win the game more, and have the will to close the game more.

And we get to see them settle which one of them wants a ring more.  
Posted on: May 27, 2011 12:33 am
Edited on: May 27, 2011 2:32 am
 

Heat-Bulls series grades

Posted by Royce Young



The Heat finished the Bulls in Game 5, 83-80, with an incredible Dirk-ish comeback to lock up their place in the NBA Finals. Time to pull out the red pen and make some marks.

MIAMI HEAT

LeBron James: I'm not going to fall into the "The real MVP showed up!" talk. Derrick Rose won the MVP for what he did during the 82 games in the regular season. If they were to hand out a playoffs MVP, LeBron, along with Dirk, would be right there to get it.

That said, LeBron was truly phenomenal in this series. In every single way. His numbers are stellar (25.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 6.6 apg) but really where he made the difference was his defense on Derrick Rose. That switch in the fourth quarters of Games 4 and 5 is really what ended this for the Heat. A dud in Game 1 is all that keeps this from being a perfect mark. Grade: A

Dwyane Wade: Maybe he wasn't totally healthy, but I don't think that's a worthy excuse. Wade seemed to check out of Game 4 for about 47 minutes and struggled again in Game 5. His numbers were very un-Dwyane Wade-ish (18.8 ppg on 40.5 percent shooting) but he did hit some big time shots in Games 4 and 5. That's just so very Dwyane Wade. Grade: B

Chris Bosh: Most saw the Bosh-Boozer showdown as a hinge to the series. And there's no doubt Bosh got the best of the matchup. He had two 30-point games, scored 22 on 12 shots in Game 4 and finished with 20-10 in the deciding game. I don't really think at any point in this series you could say that Bosh was a liability. He wasn't perfect defensively and wasn't always strong on the boards, but when Bosh plays like this, the Heat are really good. Grade: A-

Miami's role players: It was Udonis Haslem showing up out of nowhere in Games 2 and 3. Then it was Mike Miller in Game 4. All season long people waxed about how, at some point, the Heat were going to have to get contributions from players outside the Big Three if they were going to win. They were going to have to find their Robert Horry, their Derek Fisher, their Insert Solid Champion Role Player. And right on cue, Miller and Haslem stepped up and saved the day in the Eastern Finals. That's going to have to continue, but don't dog the Heat's role players anymore, because they stepped up. Grade: A

Erik Spoelstra: Spoelstra trusted his bench, made a few good adjustments and, really, managed the game pretty well. After Game 1's disaster, Spoelstra kept his message strong and kept his team right where it needed to be. Some of his decisions were a bit weird with what he was doing with his big men, but it worked out in the end because his group advanced. Grade: B+

CHICAGO BULLS

Derrick Rose: I feel like Rose deserves to be graded on a curve. He clearly was forced into half of his bad decisions because of the circumstances he was in. But shooting 35 percent for the series and turning it over 19 times in four games hurts. Plus, he missed crucial free throws in both Games 4 and 5. That's nobody's fault but his.

He took responsibility for the meltdown in Game 5 and it was good of him to do so. No doubt he was under an incredible amount of pressure to make every play for the Bulls. But in moments where he just needed to be himself and make a good play, he tried to make great ones. He pushed, pressed and didn't finish games. He's young, he'll grow from this. But this just wasn't his series. Grade: C

Luol Deng: Really, Deng did a pretty solid job adding secondary points for the Bulls. He averaged better than 17 points per game on good percentages and hit some pretty big shots. His defense on LeBron was good enough, I'd say. Because Chicago lost, it's obvious that he probably needed to be better, but, before the series, I think if you told people that Deng would average 17 points and seven rebounds for the series, they'd say he must've had a great set of games. Grade: B+

Carlos Boozer: In two games, Boozer was very good, on one end. In Games 3 and 4 he averaged 23 points and 14 rebounds. But for the series, he finished averaging 14.4 ppg and 10.2 rpg. That should tell you that he had three other meh games. His Game 5 was awful as he scored five points on 1-6 shooting. Not to mention his statuesque pick-and-roll defense in every game of the series. Grade: D+

Tom Thibodeau: It's hard to blame Thibodeau too much for the lack of offense for the Bulls, because that's kind of sort of been the way they've played all season long. They always relied on their defense, always counted on rebounding well and always hoped Rose would give them just enough to finish out games.

When their shooters got hot and a couple players scored the ball well, they could pile up some points. But to expect them to magically grow an offensive game in the Eastern Finals was unreasonable. Now that's probably as much of an indictment of Thibodeau as anything else because his team never had an offensive identity and that bit them hard in this series, but to put it all on him isn't really fair. Grade: B-

Composure: Missed free throws. Bad fouls. Dumb turnovers. Silly shots. Forced passes. All of it piled up to two blown leads in Games 4 and 5 for the Bulls, and it ultimately ended their season. Yes, it probably was as much a sign of their youth and inexperience, much like the Thunder. But you've got to just keep playing. Basketball is basketball, no matter the situation, no matter the pressure. The Bulls just tensed up at the worst moments. Grade: F
Posted on: May 27, 2011 12:23 am
 

LeBron James flops against Bulls video

LeBron James of the Miami Heat flops on video against the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. Posted by Ben Golliver.

LeBron James and the Miami Heat did it again on Thursday night, closing out the Chicago Bulls in five games to win the Eastern Conference finals. The Heat went on an 18-3 run to close the game and James was sensational, scoring eight points in the final 2:06 of the fourth quarter and locking up Derrick Rose so bad that he could barely get off a shot attempt.

James was sensational, but only after he embarrassed himself first.  

With the Bulls leading 57-44, James pulled down a defensive rebound in traffic. Rose crashed in from the perimeter to take an upward swipe at the ball as James brought it down to the ground and James' body went flying backwards, as if Rose had hit him in the face. James grabbed at his face as if he had been poked in the eye and went down on one knee to collect himself as a foul was called on Rose. Rose stomped away from the play, frustrated at the whistle, and replays would clearly reveal why he was upset.

The reverse angle clearly showed that Rose's swipe did not contact the ball or James' head whatsoever. The upwards swipe had been completely unsuccessful: Rose has simply grasped at air. James' reaction, then, was totally staged, a simulation of contact that had never occurred.

To make matters worse, James' flop was accentuated by a smile and wink to the bench, a purposeful acknowledgement that he had duped the officials.

Here's video of James' flop courtesy of YouTube user BSORobertLittal11.




Flopping and simulating fouls has certainly become a trend in these NBA playoffs. Give James credit: Whatever he does on the basketball court, he does it better than just about everyone else. Unless retroactive fines and imposed in these situations, players with James' basketball intelligence and experience will no doubt be able to fool referees in real time, especially when the plays occur in congested areas of the court.

Still, this was a shame. It certainly doesn't take away from the magnitude of James and Miami making the Finals, but this type of action shouldn't have a place in the NBA game.
Posted on: May 27, 2011 12:09 am
Edited on: May 27, 2011 5:58 am
 

Mavericks-Heat 2011 NBA Finals Preview

An early preview of the NBA Finals matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat. Posted by Ben Golliver.

lebron-mavs

I. Intro: Western Conference Champions: No. 3 seed Dallas Mavericks (57-25) vs. Eastern Conference Champions: No. 2 seed Miami Heat (58-24)

II. How They Got Here: A look at the playoff track records

Dallas: 12-3 in the 2011 NBA playoffs (4-2 against the Portland Trail Blazers, 4-0 against the Los Angeles Lakers, 4-1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder). Dallas is 7-1 at home and 5-2 on the road in the playoffs.

Miami: 12-3 in the 2011 NBA playoffs (4-1 against the Philadelphia 76ers, 4-1 against the Boston Celtics, 4-1 against the Chicago Bulls). Miami is 8-0 at home and 4-3 on the road in the playoffs.

In the regular season, Dallas had the No. 8 offense and the No. 7 defense from an efficiency perspective. Miami had the No. 3 offense and the No. 5 defense. In the postseason, Dallas has the No. 1 offense and the No. 9 defense. Miami has the No. 4 offense and the No. 2 defense.

Both teams have played at a relatively slow pace in the postseason: Dallas is ranked No. 10 and Miami is ranked No. 13 out of 16 playoff teams.

III. What Happened: A look at the season series

The Mavericks and Heat matched up just twice in the regular season, with Dallas winning both times. The teams haven’t faced each other in almost five months, as the two games took place all the way back on Nov. 27 and Dec. 20. Dallas won 106-95 at home on Nov. 27 and they won 98-96 on the road on Dec. 20.

Of course, much has changed for both teams, but the regular season results are interesting for one main reason: The Heat went 22-2 from Nov. 26, 2010 until Jan. 9, 2011 ... the best stretch of their season by leaps and bounds. Both losses during that time period came at the hands of the Mavericks.

Keep in mind, Dallas had the services of small forward Caron Butler and Miami was without power forward Udonis Haslem. In all likelihood, that situation will be reversed for the Finals: Butler is expected to be out as he continues to rehab from knee surgery while Haslem has returned from foot surgery to provide a major spark for the Heat against the Bulls.

IV. Secret of the Series: Late-Game Execution

Nobody has finished games like Dallas and Miami in this playoffs. Not even close.

The main weapons have been Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James, but both teams have benefited from substantial defensive contributions from the likes of Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Throw in dagger shots from Jason Kidd and Wade, as well as meaningful role player contributions from Peja Stojakovic, J.J. Barea, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller, and you start to understand why these two teams have stood up so well under pressure. They’ve got tons and tons of options.

Nowitzki has left longtime NBA observers speechless with his shot-making and play-making over the last month but James has matched him shot for shot, comeback for comeback. What might prove to be the difference is James’ lockdown defense late in games. Never before has he appeared to enjoy ball-hawking as much as he did against the Bulls. Derrick Rose, one of the league’s best shot creators, often looked absolutely hopeless in crunch time with James draped all over him. What’s more, he has seemed immune to pressure ever since a critical late-game turnover against the Celtics. James closed out Boston with a monster run, and he combined with Wade to do the same to the Bulls on Thursday night. If the Mavericks can find an answer for James in the game’s final minutes four times during the Finals, they will have more than earned their rings.

V. The Line-Item Veto: Who wins each match-up?

PG: The Miami Heat have dealt well with Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose so far in the playoffs, despite a middling point guard rotation featuring Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers. The defensive versatility of James and Wade helps a lot to cover up for those two. Jason Kidd, at 38 years old, has been one of many unsung heroes for the Mavericks, surviving Andre Miller, Derek Fisher and Russell Westbrook. Both sides will be thankful here. Miami will be glad they don’t need to worry about a paint-crashing young All-Star again while Dallas will take comfort in the same. Rather than worry about the Roses and Westbrooks of the world, Kidd can do what he does best: steady the ship, distribute the rock to the open man and force opportunistic turnovers. Kidd is averaging 9.9 points, 7.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 steals in the playoffs. Phenomenal numbers considering his age and the competition. Advantage: Mavericks. 

SG: Dwyane Wade or DeShawn Stevenson? Let’s not overthink this one. While Stevenson has been a nominal starter with reserve guard Jason Terry, an impact player on both ends, playing the bulk of the minutes, the Mavericks' combination falls far, far short of what Wade brings to the table. While the All-Star took a bit of a backseat in the scoring department in the Eastern Conference finals after torching the Boston Celtics, he’s a match-up nightmare for the Mavericks. Really, he’s what Kobe Bryant was supposed to be in the second round, if Bryant hadn’t decided to shoot only contested jumpers and never get to the rim or the free throw line. Wade’s been a menace on defense as well. He can cover tons of ground, which should help limit Dallas’ hot outside shooting. Huge advantage: Heat. 

SF: Like Kidd, Shawn Marion has been a major, chronically overlooked factor during Dallas’s playoff run. Marion put the stamp on the Western Conference finals, coming up with two huge late steals and a brilliant and-one dunk to push the Mavericks past the Thunder in Game 5. But even in his best days, which are behind him, Marion was no LeBron James, and, over the last month, we’ve realized just how impactful James can be. From being able to interchangeably cover three or four positions, to closing out games, to sacrificing his body for crucial hustle plays, James has been everywhere. His postseason averages: 25.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.4 points, 1.4 blocks and 1.6 steals (entering Thursday) are just ridiculous. Perhaps, best of all, despite playing almost 44 minutes a night and handling the ball a ton, he’s committing less than three turnovers a game. Marion will have his hands full. Really, really, really full. Huge Advantage: Heat. 

PF: Nowitzki has earned gushing praise. He has taken his scoring versatility, efficiency and creativity to new heights. The leaners have been great, a dagger three has been mixed in here and there, and his passing to keep teams honest has been exceptional. His effort level on the boards and on defense have both been superb. His postseason numbers -- 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists – reflect his dominance. In Heat forward Chris Bosh, though, he’s matched up with an athletic, talented player who is somewhat similar to Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge started the first round series with good success before the Mavericks adjusted and forced Portland’s perimeter players to beat them, which they couldn’t. Against the Heat, the Mavericks won’t have that luxury, so they’ll have to defend Bosh with single coverage a lot more often. That, plus the confidence and scoring touch Bosh showed against Chicago, will help Miami keep this match-up closer than you might expect. Still, it’s Dirk’s world and we’re all just living in it. Advantage: Mavericks.

C: Joel Anthony has been the man in the middle fill-in that Miami so desperately needed. Better than a stiff, his activity level helps keep Miami from getting overrun on the glass and his help defense dissuades forays into the paint. That’s about it for Anthony, which is OK from Miami’s standpoint given the offensive talent they always have on the court. Tyson Chandler, though, has proven to be an effective two-way player for the Mavericks. Not only has he been a pest getting into the heads of his opponents, he’s been huge on the glass, averaging 9.3 rebounds per game in the postseason. Foul trouble is always a lingering issue with Chandler, but his length and energy level, plus his ability to finish lob plays to prevent teams from overloading on Nowitzki, are all big plusses that tilt this match-up in his favor.  Advantage: Mavericks.

Bench: The Heat haves scaled things back to an eight-man rotation, using only Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Chalmers. Although Miller and Haslem haven’t really peaked in this playoffs, they’ve both made important contributions. Not much was expected after their respective injuries so it feels like an added bonus. If one of those three guys doesn’t get hot, Miami’s bench is really just buying time for its starters. Dallas, on the other hand, has enjoyed a big-time positive bench scoring differential throughout the playoffs. In addition to Terry, J.J. Barea has been a tempo-changing, gameplan-altering, pesky presence, Peja Stojakovic has provided the knockdown shooting and Brendan Haywood can give some fouls and pull down the occasional rebound. (He can also be counted on to get posterized.) The huge issue for Dallas’ bench will be its perimeter defense. Will the subs be able to get their full runs through the rotation? How long can they stay on the floor if James and Wade continue to play heavy, heavy minutes? Hard to say. But Dallas’ bench has been more consistent, more prolific and it does enjoy the depth advantage. Slight advantage: Mavericks.

Coach: As mentioned above, both teams enter the series having played very, very well at the end of games. Both teams have also survived against a variety of opponents, overcoming significant mental hurdles along the way. For the Heat, it was finally pushing past the Celtics. For the Mavericks, it was surviving a miracle comeback against the Blazers. Both teams have closed out series on the road. Both teams have played the “proving the doubters wrong” card during the course of the season and both have stayed true to their self-perceived identity, resisting criticism and believing in their fundamentals. Simply put: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle both deserve their share of the credit for those accomplishments. Advantage: Push.

VI. Conclusion

As dominant as the Mavericks have been in this postseason, they haven’t played a team that is as talented, focused and steady as the Heat. In the Blazers, Dallas was able to exploit a weak shooting team. Against the Lakers, Dallas made a disorganized and sloppy team pay. With the Thunder, Dallas forced Oklahoma City's younger players to crack under pressure.

Miami is well-rounded enough so that it resists straightforward tendency analysis. It’s fully motivated and focused as evidenced by its dismantling of the Celtics and Bulls in back-to-back series. And it’s proven to be very resilient in big moments, coming back to beat both Boston and Chicago in dramatic fashion.

While the Mavericks own positional advantage at three starting spots, and for the bench as a whole, they have no answer for James and Wade. This year, it’s starting to feel like no one in the NBA has an answer for that duo. Prediction: Heat in 6.


Posted on: May 26, 2011 3:33 pm
 

LiveChat: Heat-Bulls Conference Finals Game 5

Join us at 8:30 p.m. EST for Heat-Bulls Game 5 as Chicago tries to stave off elimination and force this thing to go back to Miami. Topics of discussion include:

  • Seriously, Derrick Rose? Seriously?
  • Mike Miller: Does he prove evolution is flawed and we don't need oppossable thumbs?
  • Is Kurt Thomas going to kill someone? Like Thibs if he doesn't get to play?
  • How awesome is the Billy Goat Tavern? For real?


 
Posted on: May 26, 2011 2:08 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 2:42 am
 

Playoff Fix: Can Heat eliminate Bulls in Chicago?

The Miami Heat will attempt to eliminate the Chicago Bulls from the Eastern Conference finals in Game 5 on Thursday night. Posted by Ben Golliver.



One Big Thing:  If a single play defines this series, it's either LeBron James defending Derrick Rose on the final possession of regulation in Game 4, forcing an errant jumper, or Dwyane Wade blocking a Rose runner in spectacular fashion in overtime. Both plays served as excellent reminders of the obvious: when the league's best players commit fully on the defensive end, there's not much anyone can do, not even the NBA MVP. James, Wade and company played excellent defense against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but they've ramped that up at least a full notch, maybe two, against Chicago. The Bulls are averaging just 84 points per game in the last three contests, and unless they get a monster outside shooting night like they had in Game 1 or a super-efficient, high-volume scoring night from Rose, there's not much hope.

The X-Factor: We're past the point of being able to highlight one Bulls reserve as a guy who could step up and make a difference. The Bench Mob got smoked in Game 4. All five Bulls reserved finished with a 0 or worse plus/minus ranking. Taj Gibson, who played just 10 minutes and didn't contribute anything except one rebound and a missed field goal, finished with an astonishing -21. That barely seems possible. At the same time, Miami only went three men deep with its bench yet all three finished with double digit positive numbers in the plus/minus column, none greater than a resurgent Mike Miller, who scored 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting and added nine rebounds, all while keeping thoughts of his ailing newborn daughter in the back of his mind. Miller was an unconscionable +32 in 26 minutes, forming the critical fifth piece in a James/Wade/Chris Bosh/Udonis Haslem lineup that could be the best five-man unit any time will put on the court during the 2011 playoffs. The X-Factor here is simple: The Bulls need to totally flip this script and reclaim their bench dominance, even without injured center Omer Asik. Remember, in Game 1 it was Chicago whose five reserves all finished with positive +/- numbers while all seven of Miami's reserves finished in the red.

The Adjustment: Miami Heat coach is done playing. No more messing around. In Game 4, he played a tight eight-man rotation despite the game going to overtime. He rode James, Bosh and Wade for a combined 133 minutes one game after the trio played 126 minutes combined in Game 3. Spoelstra left wing James Jones totally out of the action in both games and was able to do so because of solid contributions from Miller and Haslem. While Haslem only scored two points on five shots, he rebounded the ball well (nine boards) and played his typical winning brand of basketball. It's no accident that the Heat look great now that James, Wade and Bosh almost never leave the court. The fact that they are able to execute so well late in games speaks to their mental and physical fitness. In some cases, the best adjustments are the most obvious ones: play your stars, a lot.

The Sticking Point: If there's one area of concern for Miami, it's the lack of effectiveness so far in this series from Wade. He's been scintillating at times, using his crossover combinations and reserve spins to get into the lane at ease. His overall offensive numbers, though, are pretty rough. He's shooting less than 40% from the field, averaging just 18.3 points per game and dishing out just 2.3 assists. His scoring and passing numbers are way off his season and postseason averages. While there's been some speculation that he might be playing hurt, Wade has also been defended well by Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer. Perhaps even more importantly, both James and Bosh have emerged into more prominent roles during this series. Bosh, in particular, is getting lots of touches and looks because of the extra attention Chicago has paid James and Wade when they have the ball in their hands. A big night from the Chicago native Wade -- it would be his first of the series -- could send the Bulls packing into the offseason.
Posted on: May 25, 2011 7:25 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 8:47 pm
 

Mike Miller attended to sick daughter at hospital

Miami Heat forward Mike Miller attended to his sick newborn following Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. Posted by Ben Golliver. mike-miller

Miami Heat forward Mike Miller has dealt with plenty of adversity this season: a thumb injury that kept him out for months and the brief disappearance of his shooting stroke that contributed to his on-court struggles this season. But none of that compares what he's been through this week. 

The Palm Beach Post reports that Miller headed to the hospital following Miami's Game 4 win over the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals to check on his newborn daughter, Jaelyn. The girl was born between Games 2 and 3 of the series but remains in the hospital's intensive care unit.
Miller was visiting his wife, Jen, and baby daughter, Jaelyn, who was born last Thursday with a condition that the Millers have not disclosed. Miller remained at the hospital until 4 a.m.

"As important as the playoffs or the Eastern Conference Finals are to me, the most important thing right now is (Jaelyn) and my wife," Miller said Wednesday before the Heat boarded its charter for Chicago, where it could advance to the NBA Finals with a victory in Thursday night's Game 5.

"It puts things in perspective. It makes my thumb injuries a lot less important right now."
The Associated Press reportsthat Miller plans to play in Thursday night's Game 5 in Chicago.
Jaelyn was born between Games 2 and 3 of the East final. Miller has not missed either game since she was born, and told reporters on Tuesday night — after perhaps one of his best games with the Heat — that his daughter is "a fighter."

"She's doing good right now," Miller said Wednesday. "And hopefully she'll continue to do better."
Despite the emotional weight of the situation, Miller scored 12 points in Game 4, including two three-pointers, more than he's scored in the rest of the 2011 NBA playoffs combined, and the most points he's scored in a game since March 23. That he's playing at all is remarkable given the circumstances.

Miller has taken to wearing pink shoelaces to honor his Jaelyn, who is his first daughter after two sons. The Post notes that Heat president Pat Riley offered to pay any fine incurred for breaking dress code should the NBA league office raise the issue, which it hasn't.
Posted on: May 25, 2011 2:34 pm
 

Thibodeau thinks Rose struggles start with calls

Tom Thibodeau thinks Derrick Rose isn't getting the calls he should in the Eastern Conference Finals. Thibodeau has bigger problems.

Posted by Matt Moore




From Larry Brown Sports, we discover Tom Thibodeau's reason for why Derrick Rose is struggling in the Eastern Conference Finals.
 
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau must have kept that in mind, because he made a point to call out the refs following his team’s Game 4 loss in Miami.

Speaking about Derrick Rose after the game, Thibodeau said “He hasn’t been able to get to the line like we thought he would. There’s a lot of contact, and he hasn’t gotten calls.”
via Tom Thibodeau Calls Out Refs for Not Giving Derrick Rose More Calls | Larry Brown Sports.

On the one hand, the Heat had a 38-22 advantage in free throws in Game 4, and Derrick Rose took seven to LeBron James' 13. On the other hand, here's a brief list of ways why maybe Coach needs to look elsewhere for answers besides blaming the officials. 

  • Rose was 8-27 from the field, or to put it in a different context, Rose missed more than two of every three shots he took. He was 1-9 from the 3-point line. Why did he take four more after starting 0-5 you might ask. Well, that would be something his coach might have something to say about. That's nine possessions where Rose won't be getting to the line. 
  • The Bulls, a terrible 3-point shooting team, knowing this going in, took 24 3-point attempts in Game 4. That's 28 percent of their total FGA predicated on the arc. The Heat, conversely, took 13, for just 17 percent. The Heat shot 39 percent, the Bulls 24 percent. So even though the Bulls are a terrible perimeter-shooting team and needed to create free throws, they went to 3-point shooting to save them.
  • Derrick Rose got a few calls, including a ridiculous continuation on one of his poster dunks. It's not like Rose was constantly knocked to the ground, he just didn't drive as much.
  • Instead, Rose habitually went to the pull-up jumper, like he did on the final possession of regulation. When he did drive, late, he turned the ball over. Hard to draw free throws when you're rolling the ball out of bounds. 
  • The Heat's defense has done three things on Rose in this series. Send multiple defenders to keep him from being able to figure out a consistent attack, bring help at three, sometimes four levels on Rose's drives, and guard him with players like James who have incredible size advantages. The key for the Bulls should be to punish those positional switches by having the other players matched up on smaller/slower players get involved, or working with Rose off-ball. But of course, those would be offensive adjustments and Thibodeau is too busy screaming at the defense to not let a 6-8, 285 lb. freight train with unparalleled explosion drive by them or hit fadeaway 16-footers. Much too busy.

The reality is that there were calls that didn't go the Bulls way in Game 4, and the whistles were generous towards Miami. But Rose not only had the game winner he missed, but a key free throw clanged off in the final minutes and multiple turnovers. Rose is 22. He'll bounce back. This is part of the learning process. He's still the MVP after a banner year. 

But the Bulls aren't losing this series 3-1 because of the officials. They're losing it for multiple reasons, and one of them is that Derrick Rose just hasn't been any good and his coach hasn't helped him to make any adjustments.  
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com