Tag:2011 EC Conference Semifinals
Posted on: May 11, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: May 11, 2011 1:40 pm
  •  
 

Shaq doubtful for Game 5, done for year?

Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal is reportedly not expected to play in Game 5 and could be done for the season. Posted by Ben Golliver. shaq-oneal

Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal made it back. After months of injuries, he played a total of 12 minutes in Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Miami Heat. In the two games combined, he made one basket, grabbed zero rebounds and committed four fouls. He also looked significantly out of shape.

Those could be the last minutes of O'Neal's, season. CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports that Celtics coach Doc Rivers said on Wednesday morning that "Shaq doubtful for tonight. Calf has gotten worse, not better."

CSNNE.com reported that O'Neal suffered a "relapse" of his "right Achilles/calf" injury duing Game 4. WEEI.com reported: "Shaq is not likely to play tonight. This may have been it for him." The station also reported that Rivers said: "He’s done everything you possibly can do to get healthy. It just never healed, and now every time he plays it gets worse."

The Celtics trail the Miami Heat, 3-1, in the series so Wednesday night represents an elimination game. Game 6, if necessary, would be played on Friday night.

O'Neal, 39, averaged 9.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 20.3 minutes this season.

He has a player option on his contract for next season.
For more on what this setback means for O'Neal's future, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger has you covered.
Posted on: May 10, 2011 11:58 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2011 12:54 am
 

Playoff Fix: Heat can slam door on Celtics

The Miami Heat get their first chance to close out the Boston Celtics in Game 5 on Wednesday night. Posted by Ben Golliver.

bron-wade

One Big Thing: Destiny? Our collective denial could end Wednesday night. For months, we've been assuming, hoping and praying that the Miami Heat -- the new-look superteam featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh -- wouldn't be able to pull this thing off, at least not immediately. They have no bench. Coach Erik Spoelstra isn't ready for the challenge. Too many injuries. Bosh was the wrong third wheel selection. Three star players can't overcome a team of five good players. Well, to this point, despite some ups and downs that we've catalogued in minute detail, we've been wrong. It's so painful to write that the keyboard is oozing blood.

The Heat have their first shot to get over the Boston Celtics hump ... and they've got a very, very good chance. At home. Momentum in their favor after an overtime victory in Boston. Rajon Rondo still limited by a dislocated elbow. Dominant home performances in Games 1 and 2 to turn to for motivation. The Celtics, one would think, won't bow out classlessly and disgracefully like the Los Angeles Lakers. But their clock is ticking loudly. The Heat seem poised for the next step.

The X-Factor: Boston's stuck between a rock and a hard place. Rondo is limited. Kevin Garnett has been up and down. Paul Pierce had back-to-back big games (27 points each in Games 3 and 4) but he can't match LeBron James play-for-play with the way James is playing right now. The great equalizer for the Celtics could be the three-ball, and that means one man: Ray Allen. Allen has caught fire just once this series, going for 25 points in a Game 1 loss. Since then, he's been uncharacteristically off, shooting a combined 11-30 (36.7%) from the field, far below his 49.1% season average. Miami has had its offense clicking much better at home (100.5 points per game) in this series than on the road (89.5 points per game). Given their bench's struggles, Allen's deadeye deep shooting is the most logical way for Boston to keep up amid a South Beach scoring frenzy.

The Adjustment: As expected, Spoelstra moved center Joel Anthony into the starting lineup for Game 4 and he was rewarded for that decision. While Anthony had just four points and four rebounds, he played 31 minutes and had two blocked shots. Both teams went smaller, ignoring Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O'Neal, and that played to Miami's advantage in a big way because Miami's more athletic forwards -- James and Bosh -- were able to wreak some havoc. Miami dominated on the glass, 45 to 28, and scored 48 points in the paint to Boston's 32. James and Bosh combined for 26 of those rebounds.

Most importantly, Anthony helped the Heat avoid falling into big deficits in the first and third quarter, as had been happening when Ilgauskas started. The Heat did get behind 9-2 to open Game 4 but pulled back quickly to trail by just one point nine minutes into the game. Then, Miami actually went on a 13-4 run to start the third quarter. Anthony finished with a +/- of 0 which is a huge win for Miami, given that Ilgauskas finished with a -19 as the starter in the Game 3 loss.

The Sticking Point: Where is the world is Glen Davis? Boston's reserve big man -- who has been an X-factor in the past, even if he's a bit of a goof -- has been non-existent in this series, averaging just 3.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 19.3 minutes. Compare those figures to his season averages -- 12.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 31.2 minutes -- and you realize the magnitude of the loss of production and playing time. It's not like Celtics coach Doc Rivers can't use him, either. The trust factor just isn't there right now. Davis has look out-of-sync, off-kilter and low on confidence and the intensity of this series, plus the lack of an obvious defensive match-up for him on the Heat side, has made shortening his minutes a fairly easy decision for Rivers. A big surprise performance from Big Baby in Game 5 would be a much needed life preserver for the Celtics.

CBSSports.com Video: Here's CBSSports.com's Ken Berger with a video preview of Game 5 with Lauren Shehadi.


Posted on: May 10, 2011 11:54 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2011 12:32 am
 

NBA Playoffs Hawks-Bulls: Chess match to Thibs

Tom Thibodeau outsmarts Larry Drew (shocker) to help the Bulls take a 3-2 

Posted by Matt Moore





So many coaches shorten their rotations in the playoffs. The thought being "I can only trust the guys I know I can count on. Only the veterans. Only the guys who have played this year." It's painful to the point of absurdity and the downfall of too many coaches. But Tom Thibodeau, sorry, Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau did not get roped into such a tactic in Game 5 against the Hawks.


For most of the playoffs the key bench contributors for the Bulls have been C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, and Kyle Korver. The "Bench Mob" has gotten its fair share of run, but not like they did in Game 5. With Carlos Boozer turning in a very Carlos-Boozer-like performance (11 pts, 12 rebounds, 1700 blown defensive assignments, 1800 yells for plays that were largely the product of his point guard's brilliance),  Thibodeau turned to Taj Gibson and Omer Asik, a sophomore and a rookie, to close the game. The result was a burst of energy and defense which shut down the Hawks and gave the Bulls a 3-2 series lead and an opportunity to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals in Atlanta Thursday night. 


Gibson's impact was immediate and considerable. He established good position inside, caught, pump-faked and went up-and-under on Josh Smith, gathered a key offensive rebound, and made all five of his field goal attempts. If Gibson was the spark, Asik was the hammer. Asik made key play after key play, bringing the size and defensive strength to knock the Hawks back out of the paint.


It wasn't a bad performance by Noah and Boozer, it was just smart coaching by Tom Thibodeau to let the unit playing well keep playing well.  And it saved what could have been a disastrous performance from the Bulls. It showcases the Bulls' postseason in a nutshell.


The Bulls did not play well for most of the game, and again, a Hawks team that everyone thought would roll over for the top seed in the East put up a great fight, led by Jeff Teague. Derrick Rose, who had a typically brilliant offensive performance, struggled on defense against Jeff Teague who continues to be an emerging story for the Hawks' future.  It's almost as if Rose's All-Defensive Team votes may not have been well considered. But in the end, though less efficient than Teague, Rose outweighed Teague's performance and got the win. The recipe is simple. Give Rose support, any kind of support, from anyone, and the Bulls can win with defense and timely play.


There are so many things that could have led to either team having closed this series out 4-1 in this series were they different. In Game 5, we saw a significant one for both sides: Tom Thibodeau and Larry Drew. 
Posted on: May 10, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: May 10, 2011 12:45 pm
 

Kevin Garnett's last stand

On the brink of elimination, with his career's legacy on the line, and after a dreadful performance in Game 4, Kevin Garnett has to be the emotional and physical leader for the Celtics or face the reality that the game, and the Heat, have passed him by. 
Posted by Matt Moore





We didn't finish strong.  Lost and now am down 3-1.  Guys battled, but mental errors.  Had to have that one.  Now we gotta have the rest of these.  Heading to Miami in the am.  Tough loss.  Real tough loss. Gotta win 3 now.  All the pressure is on now.


via Kevin Garnett's blog

For one of the greatest players in NBA history, coming off of arguably his best game in the playoffs, "tough" probably doesn't begin to describe Game 4. In Game 3, Garnett dominated from start to finish, making Chris Bosh into shark bait.  In Game 4, he finished 1-10, Chris Bosh scored 20, Bosh out-rebounded him, and scored the key tip-in to seal the game for the Heat. And to top it all off, it was Garnett's indecision and lack of focus on the Celtics' final play in overtime that prevented Paul Pierce from getting to his sweet spot, forcing him to his left for a desperate fadeaway. 



From Celtics blog Reds Army:
It looks like KG started to run to set the pick a little earlier than he should... so he stopped.  Then Ray trying to create the misdirection hes talking about in the quote got tangled up with KG and actually picked him as KG was heading towards Paul.  By that time theres 4 seconds on the clock and Paul felt like he had to do something. Then the frustration boils over and Pierce gives the very demonstrative "what are you doing?" to KG and Ray....
via Your Morning Dump... Where "All the pressure is on now" - RedsArmy.com - The Voice Of Celtics Fans.

What's stunning is how much hinges on this series for the Celtics' career. Garnett is a Hall of Famer based off his individual accomplishments and his championship ring from 2008. But for all the grief the Heat received for their talk about multiple titles, the Celtics' Big 3 didn't come together for a single title. They know that multiple rings are what they need to be considered truly great, especially as Celtics. But for all their success, should the Heat knock Garnett and the Celtics out, they'll have only one ring.  Which is more than most players ever see, even the great ones. But the Celtics' level of success is determined by that higher standard. 

Furthermore, to lose like this, to the Heat, with the Celtics exposed as too old, too unathletic, too desperate to hold the line against the uber-talented Triad which had announced its championship intentions in the East, the Celtics' turf, is unbearable. Garnett has always been the fiercest competitor, the one barking, yelling, starting fights (if not finishing), and making the commitment on defense so many stars never could or would. But in this series, he's finding the Heat just a step quicker, just a bit faster, just a touch stronger.  

The Celtics' strength has always been greater than just its talent. They have been fueled by chemistry, by leadership, by commitment. But with the loss of Kendrick Perkins, that chemistry seems to have fractured. Instead of barking out orders in huddles and being the emotional nexus for the Celtics' intensity, we see Garnett struggling to face the reality: his time as the fiercest lion in the jungle may be over. 

The Celtics aren't dead yet. Despite the Heat finally closing out the Celtics, on the Boston floor, no less, the Celtics still have a pulse. Win Game 5, force it back to Boston, protect your homecourt, and you've got a Game 7. It's just a two game winning streak they need to tie the series. Garnett has to lead that final charge up the hill. It has to be him, relentless in the post, nailing the turnaround, suffocating Bosh, protecting teammates' defensive struggles with help rotations, barking out orders. Paul Pierce is an All-Time Celtic. Ray Allen is the tip of the spear for one of the most lethal shooting systems in the league. Rajon Rondo is playing heroic basketball with one arm. But it's got to be Garnett. This is his legacy that's on the line, and it's under attack thanks to the three players who copied he, Allen and Pierce's schematic and started celebrating before they had even faced the Celtics. With a lockout on the horizon that could possibly shorten or end his career, with the reality of the Celtics' inevitable need to blow it up and start over looming, with his physical fuse running out, Garnett will not have another shot at winning a title as a featured component. It's got to be him, and it's got to be now. 

This is Kevin Garnett's last stand. 
Posted on: May 10, 2011 3:11 am
Edited on: May 10, 2011 3:46 am
 

Playoff Fix: Less shots or better shots for Rose

The Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks return to Chicago for a pivotal game 5 in a series tied 2-2. Posted by Ben Golliver.
derrick-rose-scape


One Big Thing:  It's been beaten to death, but there isn't a bigger story than Derrick Rose's shot-taking. 27, 27, 27, 32: That's the number of field goal attempts Rose has jacked in the first four games of this series. He's a really nice guy, the best player on the court and being guarded by Jeff Teague, so it's tough to put him on blast. By taking 32 shots in Game 4, he became only the third player in this year's playoffs -- joining Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook -- to fire 30+ times. So we can't even call this the "Kobe Zone" any more. All jokes aside, 12-for-32 from the field is almost guaranteed to result in a loss, and Rose faces the same old choices in Game 5: less shots or better shots. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is advocating for better shots, as he wants Rose to continue to get to the rim and the free throw line. 

The X-Factor: Chicago's bench has been called one of the best in the league and the group contributed 34 points in Game 3. Unfortunately, that production took a nosedive in Game 4, scoring just 14 points on a combined 5-16 shooting. Kyle Korver was a major culprit, shooting 1-8 from the field and going 0-5 from deep after shooting 1-9 in Game 2 as well. In that context, Rose's 32 attempts in Game 4 don't look all that bad. Korver had a bounceback game in Game 3 and the Bulls would love to see another one of those in Game 5. 

The Adjustment: Hawks forward Josh Smith played like a different man in Game 4, tallying 23 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists, and finally displaying some of the game-changing athleticism that was being wasted earlier in the series as he stood passively on the perimeter and hucked jumpers. So far during this series, Smith has averaged six boards a game in Chicago and 14.5 boards a game in Atlanta. Whatever the difference was -- whether the Hawks crowd got to him, whether he's twisting an intensity knob to "11" on a 1-10 scale or whether he's chugging a special home-brewed energy drink prior to tip -- Smith needs to make sure that impact carries over to the United Center on Tuesday. Atlanta's other big men have their hands full with Joakim Noah and Smith has shown he can be a difference-maker in this series if he gets loose.

The Sticking Point: If you're still having trouble believing the Hawks are for real, even this deep into the second round, you're not alone. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Jamal Crawford with the perfect summary of their season: "We've shown we can play with anybody, and some nights we can play with nobody." The Hawks aren't the only ones concerned about not showing up, however. The Chicago Tribune notes that Bulls forward Taj Gibson says the Bulls can't solely rely on their homecourt advantage to take Game 5. That both teams are worried about laying a goose egg would be troubling if the concern wasn't legit. The Hawks have rolled over twice and the Bulls got surprised once in the United Center and then came out flat in Game 4. The last 72 hours have seen the tenor of the rest of the playoffs get super duper serious: The Lakers were eliminated, the Heat nabbed a crucial, series-changing win in Boston and the Grizzlies and Thunder battled to three overtimes on Monday night. It's on both the Hawks and the Bulls to prove they can reach those heights. The clock is ticking.
Posted on: May 9, 2011 8:30 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 8:33 pm
 

CBSSports.com NBA Playoff Thoughts podcast

The latest edition of the CBSSports.com NBA podcast takes a look at the second round of the playoffs. Posted by Ben Golliver.
derrick-rose

The second round of the NBA Playoffs have been chockfull of dirty plays, late-game heroics and everything else you might imagine. 

CBSSports.com's Adam Aizer and Greg Urbano set out to ask and answer some hot button questions from the past week of action. Is Derrick Rose to blame for Chicago's losses? Can a one-armed Rondo beat the Heat? How good are the Mavs and who steps up for the Thunder

The pair also gives their thoughts on all four series, Phil Jackson's career and the overreaction to Andrew Bynum's foul. 

Hit the play button below to give this week's episode a listen. You can also right click here to download the file to your computer.

Posted on: May 9, 2011 6:02 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Udonis Haslem finally active for the Heat

Posted by Royce Young

All season long, there has been talk about the Heat's role players, or lack thereof. Bench production has been an issue for a while. Outside of the so-called Big Three (or Big Two and Chris) the Heat struggle with answers.

A reason for that? Probably their best role player has been hurt most of the season.

But he's finally back tonight in uniform as Udonis Haslem is active for Game 4 against the Celtics.

Haslem has been out since November because of foot surgery and has flirted numerous times with coming back. He targeted a return to begin the playoffs, but wasn't ready. Then he wanted to make his first appearance in the second round. Not ready.

Now, evidently he is. And it'll be very interesting to see what he adds. His health and effectiveness as a result of that is the first question but let's not forget that Haslem is a pretty darn good big man. He gives the Heat a much better bench immediately and a lot more depth up front. No more will it be Juawn Howard logging big minutes behind Chris Bosh. Those will go to Haslem -- depending on health of course.

How many minutes he gets is another question, but even if it's just five, that's better than five more to Howard or overplaying Bosh.

Haslem's a tough, rugged power forward that is tough on the glass and has a nifty little 15-20 foot jumper. He's good as a bailout option late in the clock and can buy extra possessions hitting the offensive boards. Is he a major, series-swinging difference? Most likely not. But with Haslem, the Heat are better than without him. They're deeper, tougher and have a much improved front line to trot out.
Posted on: May 9, 2011 11:25 am
 

Playoff Fix: Will the legend of Rondo grow?

Posted by Royce Young



One Big Thing: Amazing how a series can turn a bit just on one win. The Heat still have commanding control, but things feel like they're turning a little bit for the Celtics. Rajon Rondo played terminator, coming back from an ugly elbow injury to spark Boston to a big finish. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett played big time games. And the Heat's big guns weren't so big. Chris Bosh even admitted he felt nervous and rattled early on in the game. (Good idea letting that out, Chris.)

A lot of people were prepared to pile on and declare the Celtics sunk after starting out 0-2. But all it takes is another win tonight and things are even all over again.

The X-Factor: Rondo's left elbow, duh. Well not really, but Rondo's health is the question. He's almost definitely playing and while he finished with a flurry in Game 3, it'll be interesting to see if he can gut it out again after DISLOCATING HIS ELBOW just two days ago. Without Rondo, the Celtics are absolutely not the Celtics. Having him on the floor is an emotional kick and even one-armed, makes the Celtics much, much more dangerous.

The Adjustment: The Heat simply have to play better. That's not a big, smart adjustment, but they didn't execute, didn't take good shots, didn't move the ball and just played really uncomposed basketball. Fifteen turnovers, 23 3-point attempts and only 19 free throw attempts say a lot. Now most would say you're not going to get calls in Boston, but you still have to attack towards the rim. Settling for outside jumpers isn't a winning strategy for the Heat, especially against the Celtics.

The Sticking Point: I'm not sure Boston can really count on 55 combined points from Garnett and Pierce again tonight. LeBron and Wade combined for just 38. That doesn't seem likely to happen again either.

So this game really comes down to Rondo's health and the role players. Bosh was awful in Game 3 (1-6, six points) but the Heat stayed somewhat in the game because Miami's bench -- specifically Mario Chalmers -- hit some shots. Don't think they can bank on that either. Boston beats the Heat when Miami can't score. Once the Miami offense is frustrated, its defense opens up. The Celtics are very good at home and that arena is still cooking after what happened with Rondo's comeback in Game 3. Emotion sometimes is the greatest trump card and that's in the Celtics corner right now.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com