Tag:Kurt Thomas
Posted on: May 25, 2011 1:57 am
Edited on: May 25, 2011 2:09 am

NBA Playoffs: How the Heat snuffed the Bulls out

The Bulls had one more chance at making a comeback. But the Miami Heat snuffed it out on the defensive end with talent, but more importantly, with supreme effort. The Heat wanted it more, and it showed. 

Posted by Matt Moore

The chance was still hanging there, by a thread. The Bulls were down six with 25 seconds to go. A quick score, force a turnover which the Bulls excel at, get another one at this is a game. There's a chance. You just have to get a bucket. Derrick Rose driving, which is what you want. Amazing comebacks happen, and Chicago could have made it happen. They just needed a score. 

Desire is such a dangerous term. These are professional athletes fighting for a chance at a championship. They're close. They can taste it. Want-to is not lacking in this series. But in a series as grueling in this, with constant brutal defense on both sides, and how physical it is, there are moments that are decided by giving it an all-out effort. It wasn't brilliant highlight plays, big alley-oops, or flash and dance that won Game 4 for the Heat. It was desire. Here's how they snuffed out the Bulls. 


After a LeBron James pull-up jumper (on which James may have very well walked), Rose speed down the court to try and get a quick two to put the pressure back on Miami on the inbounds. Dwyane Wade is on the far side at the start of the play.


As Rose attacks, Wade times his jump in an interesting way. He jump-stops, plants, and explodes straight up, after Rose has already left his feet and is almost at the apex of his jump before releasing the ball.

Wade gets an absolutely absurd amount of elevation for a player who may be banged up, and blocks the ball out towards the wing, but not out of bounds. Joakim Noah and LeBron James both go for the rebound. 


Noah has nearly a four-inch advantage on James, but James manages to explode and get to the ball at the same time, knocking it loose towards the sideline. Noah secures this rebound, he's got two shooters on the far side wide-open. (Broken plays consistently made for huge plays for the Bulls in Game 4.)

The ball is loose, the game is on the line, and LeBron James is the first one to the floor. James reaches out to tap the ball away from Noah on one leg diving. 

One dive is good effort. James taps it once on the dive, then gives full-out extension to keep the ball from going out of bounds and keep it out of his hands. Noah starts to dive for the ball as well. But Udonis Haslem is in position to dive as well and he goes for the ball at the same time. 

Check out how close this was to going out of bounds on James' steal. 

This may have been the most effort LeBron James has ever made on a basketball floor. For a player who consistently is questioned for his intensity and effort, there can be no confusion. James wanted this more than any other player on the floor and every bit of his unbelievable athleticism was put into securing this ball as he taps it towards the middle of the floor. 

Joakim Noah gave a tremendous effort in Game 4 at both ends. He really hustled to work the glass, try and score, defend, and even run the break. But here not one, but two Heat players are quicker to dive for the ball than him and both beat him to the punch. Haslem dives on the loose ball like a fumble, and turns his back to Noah to try and create a gap between Noah and the ball with his body. 

As Noah dives over him, Haslem slips the ball to Mike Miller, who eventually gets it to Wade who is fouled. 

Another Bulls turnover, their last shot, and hope is snuffed out by the Heat. The Bulls were supposed to win this series with superior team play and greater effort over an entitled Heat team. But what makes the Heat so dangerous at this moment is not the talent. It's that talent brought to its fullest potential by the kind of effort seen on this play. No alley-oops. No smoke and mirrors. Just effort. 

And a win. 

Posted on: May 25, 2011 12:39 am

Boozer's flagrant turned things for Miami

Posted by Royce Young

There was a lot of talk prior to Game 4 that the Bulls needed to send a physical message to the Heat. That whether it be Taj Gibson, Omer Asik, Kurt Thomas or someone else, the first Miami player to cruise down the lnae needed to take a clobbering.

That's what a lot of people thought.

That kind of thing can work a lot of the time to fire up a team and send a message. But it's about picking spots. The correct spots, that is. And Carlos Boozer did not pick a good spot for a flagrant foul.

Chicago was leading 77-74 with 4:40 remaining as Chris Bosh went at the rim. He got a clear path because Joakim Noah overplayed a pass and slipped and Boozer rotated (properly) over to help. He fouled Bosh preventing two easy points, but for some reason followed through with his left arm and shoved Bosh to the floor.

Boom, flagrant one.

What Miami got was two free throws and possession of the ball which turned into four points and a one-point lead. Just like that.

Was it a semi-weak flagrant? Yeah, probably. Not the most malicious thing ever and Bosh sold it pretty hard. But there's no doubt it was correctly called. Boozer's foul was excessive and there was no need for him to extend his left forearm out like that. Plus, it was up around the shoulders and any time that happens, you're getting nailed.

Wrong place, wrong time for Boozer to try and show he was tough. Kind of typical of him to mess up in a big moment I guess. That decision by Boozer didn't cost the Bulls the game by any means but that was definitely a swing play in the game. Miami picked up four points and the lead off of one bad foul.

That foul in the first quarter might've had a reverse effect. It might've sent a message and rallied his team. But in crunch time when points were the most valuable thing in the game, it was just pretty much stupid.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 11:04 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 12:07 am

Derrick Rose dunks video: Bulls vs. Heat Game 4

Video of Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose throwing down three incredible dunks in the first half of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat. Posted by Ben Golliver.

During the first half of Tuesday night's Game 4 against the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose showed why he's the NBA's MVP with a trio of spectacular dunks. He seemed to be raising the bar from dunk to dunk, going from great to sensational to utterly ridiculous. Let's take a look at all three in order.

First, near the end of the first quarter, Rose displayed some excellent verticality, getting ahead of the pack in transition to throw down a monster one-hand dunk. Heat forward LeBron James was trailing the play, but decided not to attempt a chasedown block once he saw Rose elevate. Here's a look at the video.

Second, just before halftime, Rose got loose in transition one again, attacking Heat reserve point guard Mario Chalmers. Although he was fouled by Chalmers near the free throw line, Rose didn't hesitate to continue towards the hoop, throwing down a monster two-handed dunk. Thanks to a generous continuation call, Rose was given the and-one call on the monster slam.

Third and finally, shortly after the dunk above, Rose put Heat center Joel Anthony on a major, major poster, his most impressive play of the night. Rose crossed over Heat forward Udonis Haslem, who was trapping him, from right to left near the free throw line. After taking a gather step as he entered the paint, he eyed Anthony, who was coming over to provide weakside help, but decided to go up and over rather than around Anthony's contest. He finished the dunk cleanly with two hands and was once again given the and-one call. The Bulls bench erupted in celebration.

Simply amazing. This would be a good month for most All-Stars. Rose simply calls it a good half.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 5:39 pm

LiveChat: Heat-Bulls Conference Finals Game 4

Join us at 8:30 p.m. EST for Heat-Bulls Game 4. We'll discuss such topics as:

There will inevitably be mid-90's video game references, as there were in Game 4 of Mavs-Thunder as well. Join us at 8 p.m. EST.

Posted on: May 24, 2011 9:09 am

Playoff Fix: Running of the Bulls

The Bulls need to run, rebound and stop LeBron James to tie the Eastern Conference Finals in Game 4. Piece of cake!

Posted by Matt Moore

One Big Thing: Both coaches are 100 percent dead set on making this series about speed, despite how good the transition defense is. The Bulls talked a lot about getting out and running in Game 3. They made good on that promise to a degree, scoring 16 points on 8-10 shooting in transition. But the Heat also wound up with 10 points on the fast break, meaning the Bulls' halfcourt offense would have to put in work. It of course couldn't, and we've got a 2-1 Miami advantage. With Omer Asik dealing with an injury issue, the Bulls have the luxury of smaller lineups to try and get up and down the floor. The idea was to get Carlos Boozer involoved in transition. But Boozer is very much a halfcourt offense guy. He's no longer a spring chicken, doesn't have great athleticism, and loves a jumpshot. So him being involved on the break is a little odd. Better to get Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah going as finishers off the attention Derrick Rose draws than aim for transition jumpers from Boozer. What's worse is this feels like a desperation adjustment from the Bulls. "We can't create offense in the halfcourt, grind-it-out way our play style suggests, so we'll just try and make up for it with 'easy' baskets." Maybe the Bulls do get out and run in Game 4, opening up opportunities for their shooters from ther perimeter using transition spacing. But it's hard to see how the Bulls are going to even the series without getting some more halfcourt offense help.

The X-Factor: C.J. Watson has been on a tight leash in this series, but he matches up rather well with the Heat defense. Watson has good outside shooting, can play on or off-ball, plays decent defense, and on the perimeter, can pump-fake and drive with a decent floater. Watson doesn't get much time because, well, Derrick Rose lives and breathes. But Watson could make a difference if played in tandem with Rose more, giving Rose a speedy backcourt partner who can space the floor. It means issues with rotations should Rose get tired, but at this point, we all know Thibodeau will be driving him into the ground regardless. Watson could make a difference if he can put in a double-figure socring performance with any efficiency.

The  Adjustment: Miami continues to struggle keeping the Bulls off the offensive glass, but they're chipping away at it. Udonis Haslem has made a huge impact, but also the Heat have run the Bulls off the three-point line, which has decreased the number of long rebounds. Still, the Bulls' best way to get back in this series is to get points off follows. Boozer was the big getter in Game 3, nabbing seven offensive boards. That's containable. If Chris Bosh can keep Boozer off the offensive glass and the Heat can keep up what they've been doing as the series goes along, they might take away the rebounding advantage. Do that and without an outlier shooting performance, the Bulls are sunk.

The Sticking Point: All the talk coming into the series was "Who's going to check Derrick Rose?" Well, the Heat have shown they have a pretty good plan for doing that with multiple guys, though the Heat expect Rose to break out at some point.  But here's a bigger one. "How do the Bulls defend LeBron at the end of games?" The Bulls threw multiple defenders at James all night in Game 3, hoping to put him in a slump. He wound up with ten assists, throwing pinpoint laser passes to open teammates. Then, when they Bulls peeled off to try and stop the other Heat players killing them, James stepped up and took advantage of the ISO situation. It has to be extremely frustrating for Luol Deng who has played phenomenal defense in this series for 3. 75 quarters each game, only to have James simply overcome it in that last bit of the game. The Bulls have to at some point make a statement, "LeBron James will not beat us in the fourth quarter." That has risky consequences, but nothing riskier than putting the possibility of a 3-1 hole for the Bulls in James' hand down the stretch, not with the way he's been closing out games.
Posted on: May 23, 2011 12:47 am
Edited on: May 23, 2011 1:12 am

Three keys for Chicago to extend East finals

The Chicago Bulls dropped Game 3 against the Miami Heat, falling behind in the Eastern Conference finals 2-1. What needs to change for the Bulls to extend this series? Posted by Ben Golliver.


The Miami Heat not only won Game 3 on Sunday night, they took full control of their Eastern Conference finals series against the Chicago Bulls. In prevailing 96-85, Miami showed it was capable of playing defense as well as Chicago has played it all season and that it could find new ways to pick apart the Bulls with their three-headed monster attack. In turn, forward Chris Bosh delivered a game-high 34 points.

The Heat's win clearly sets up Game 4 as the swing game. Should Chicago prevail, this series is almost certainly going seven games. But if Miami should hold court at home? The Bulls would be faced with the prospect of winning three straight in an elimination scenario. Good luck with that.

Here's three things that need to happen for the pendulum of momentum to swing back the other way.

1. Derrick Rose needs to find his rhythm

Following Game 1, the post-game talk centered around how well Luol Deng and Chicago's team defense were able to contain LeBron James. In Game 3, especially during the second half, the same points apply for how Miami handled Derrick Rose. Clearly, he was frustrated and forced off of his game.

The Heat committed lots of bodies to the cause, doubling Rose, stepping into his driving lanes and remaining very active in the passing lanes as well. In handling the double teams, Rose said: "I've been trying to beat it with the pass, I have to be more aggressive."

Yes and no. While LeBron James helped seal the win by picking off a Rose crosscourt pass and taking it to the house over Kyle Korver, Rose also committed multiple turnovers by driving too hard into traffic, either losing control of the ball or getting hit with a player control foul. It's a bit of a paradox, but he needs to be both more aggressive and less aggressive simultaneously (if that's possible).

A return to controlled, timely aggression is probably the best way to put it. 

Here's a look at James' steal and finish in transition.

2. Backcourt scoring desperately needed

Rose's reads would be easier and his drives to the bucket more effective and productive if he was getting anything -- anything at all -- from his backcourt mates. Chicago guards not named Rose combined for 13 points on 5-14 shooting. Keith Bogans, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson also combined to attempt just four three-pointers in 63 minutes.

If you're wondering why there's no room in the paint, look no further than the fact that Luol Deng is the only player on the entire roster that approximates a floor-spacer right now. Like a football team with no deep threat option, the Bulls haven't made the Heat pay for overloading. It was the same story in Game 2: Deng took seven three-pointers while Bogans, Korver, Brewer and Watson combined to shoot 2-10 from deep. 

If those numbers don't change in a meaningful way, it doesn't matter how well Chicago plays defense. They're toast.

3. Energy differential

Both teams competed incredibly hard on Sunday night, and Chicago was hampered by the fact that Joakim Noah's activity level was hampered by early foul trouble, throwing their rotation off. Coaches always talk about who has the "edge," though, and in small ways it was Miami. Most obviously, it was the play of Bosh, who came out aggressive and never looked back, sizing up open shots and seizing the opportunity to take his defenders off the dribble. 

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau pointed to his team's failures to defend Bosh as a prime reason for the loss. In particular, he didn't like how his team closed out on Bosh once Miami's other players had attacked the paint. "We gave him too much space. We didn't challenge his shot properly. We didn't give the appropriate help ... You have to protect the paint and then get back out. I don't think we did that... We've got to get up and challenge their shots better. Rebounding was good, challenging their shots wasn't."

Carlos Boozer, Bosh's match-up, was no statistical slouch either, dumping in 26 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. But Bosh was simply a more impactful player in the fourth quarter, scoring eight straight points to help push Miami out of Chicago's reach.

The Bulls never gave up, but they didn't have enough activity, especially offensively, to pull the game back within reach.

"Our will wasn't there tonight," Rose concluded. It will need to be there in Game 4 or Miami can book its NBA Finals tickets. 
Posted on: May 22, 2011 6:56 pm

LiveChat: Heat-Bulls Conference Finals Game 3

Join us at 8:30 p.m. EST for Heat-Bulls Game 3 LiveChat. We'll discuss PEDs like Pez, and LeBron's "secret society." Chat at you then.

Posted on: May 22, 2011 2:58 am

Playoff Fix: It's Rose's turn

Derrick Rose needs to turn the Eastern Conference Finals around for the Bulls and step up as an MVP. 

Posted by Matt Moore

One Big Thing: Derrick Rose has to kill it. Rose has been unable to be his MVP self in this series thanks to stellar defense from Miami. But Rose is going to have to find ways to press the issue and get the first step to the rim. Rose has been trying to let the rest of the offense steps up as the Heat defense swarms him, but the Bulls can't hit the broad side of a barn right now. Rose has to come out early and be aggressive. If that means the pull-up jumper when Chalmers goes under the screen, so be it. If that means knocking down perimeter shots, which isn't really Rose's strength at this point, that's what he's got to do. The Chicago offense can't open up opportunities for Rose. Rose is going to have to open them up for others. If Rose starts off aggressive, the Heat defense will have to overreact to try and prevent a huge game from the MVP, which will create shots for Kyle Korver and Luol Deng, among others. 

The X-Factor: Mario Chalmers is probably due for a decent game. Don't get confused, Chalmers is radically outmatched in this series, regardless of who he's defending or who's defending him. But due to the attention the Big 3 receives, Chalmers is going to have opportunities. Chalmers has also done well surprising opposing offenses with his ball pressure, forcing turnovers. Knocking down open shots and creating easy buckets off of turnovers is the most you can expect from Chalmers, and if any time is great for him to do so, a key Game 3 with the Bulls looking to make adjustments after a disappointing Game 2, desperate for a win is a great chance. Chalmers has more athleticism than Bibby, but surprisingly Bibby has played decent defense on Derrick Rose while Chalmers has been an outright disaster. But surely Rio has one good game in this series. Game 3 could make it an impactful one. 

The Adjustment: Tom Thibodeau has opted, to no one's surprise, to stick with defensive lineups in this series. The idea is to create a cold war, a long, hard conflict of inches between two stellar defenses with the Bulls winning out as its what they do best. But the Heat offense is superior to the Bulls on most nights, so as the Heat corner the options originally presented by Chicago, Thibodeau has to go to more offensive weapons. Whether that means more Carlos Boozer or more Kyle Korver remains to be seen. It almost certainly won't be both, but one of the two needs to give Chicago a better run of efficiency. The Bulls can win with defense. They just have to have enough offense to give that defense the chance to win it for them.

The Sticking Point: The Bulls blew out the Heat in Game 1, the Heat flew by the Bulls in the closing minutes of Game 2. Things are unlikely to open up and an already ugly series is likely to only get uglier. Don't be surprised if things get chippy. This series is begging for a fight with Haslem and Taj Gibson both emotional difference makers for their teams. Joakim Noah is a constant agitator and LeBron James keeps flirting with conflict. The Bulls are desperate. The Heat are indignant. An already bloody series is going to add some bruises in Game 3.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com