Tag:Al Horford
Posted on: May 5, 2011 11:23 pm
Edited on: May 6, 2011 12:51 am
 

Playoff Fix: A big swing coming in ATL

Posted by Royce Young



One Big Thing: Tied 1-1, a Game 3 obviously swings things greatly one way. For the Bulls, a win in Atlanta reclaims homecourt advantage. A loss, and the Hawks take even more control of this series. We all get pretty carried away calling a certain game big because in a seven-game playoff series, they're all big. But something says to me that if Atlanta really wants to seriously challenge in this series, Game 3 is very important.

The Bulls re-established themselves a bit in Game 2, playing stronger defense, rebounding well and getting enough from Derrick Rose. It was an ugly 48 minutes of basketball, but it's the way the Bulls win. Replicate that in Game 3 and the somewhat fragile Hawks may be ready to wilt a bit.

The X-Factor: The Hawks' X-factor all season has been Jamal Crawford. He only had 11 points in Game 2 and the entire Atlanta bench, normally a strength, had 13 total. But my X-factor for Game 3 is Jeff Teague. He played so well in Game 2 and in the first two games of the series he only has one turnover against the Chicago defense. That's huge. He's done well on Rose, handled the offense well and if he can score the ball well once again as Joe Johnson and Al Horford reassert themselves, Atlanta will be right there.

The Adjustment: The Hawks kind of relied on shooting the ball well from outside and that worked in Game 1. Not as much in Game 2. Johnson wasn't able to free himself in the second half and the team struggled to get anything good going from the pick-and-roll. The Bulls properly adjusted to Atlanta's perimeter high pick-and-roll attack, so it's up to Larry Drew and the Hawks to find a way to make things work.

The Sticking Point: If the Bulls are truly going to be a championship level team, it's time to show it. If they're serious about winning something, they've got to show up in Game 3. They've got to handle the Hawks and snuff out any belief Atlanta might truly have right now.

And I don't think it comes easy. This has single possession game written all over it. Who executes? Can Rose regain his form? Or can Joe Johnson show up again. The Bulls need to find more help whether it's with Carlos Boozer or Luol Deng and Game 3 is a fine time to start. Lose this one and things get a bit more iffy. The Bulls are better than the Hawks. Now's a good time to prove it.
Posted on: May 5, 2011 4:44 pm
 

Noah wants Bulls fan to back off Boozer

Posted by Royce Young

That wasn't "Booooooooz" or "Boo-urns" they were saying. It was just straight "boo."

Long, loud boos directed at one specific player.

Bulls fans have grown increasingly frustrated with Carlos Boozer has he's been less than terrific in the postseason to go with a somewhat unspectacular regular season. The $80 million man is averaging just 10.3 points per game on 38 percent shooting in seven playoff games thus far.

The result? Not just some scattered booing, but loud, obvious booing when Boozer checks out and in from games. Fellow Bulls big man Joakim Noah told the Daily Herald that he's heard enough of it.

Noah asked fans to “support every one of us,” and it was obvious what he meant. The fans are getting restless with power forward Carlos Boozer…

“I love our fans. We have the best fans in the NBA, no question about it,” Noah said. “But I understand our fans are very demanding and that can be very good and in some aspects that can be bad, as well.

“Carlos is in a situation where he’s hurt and he’s giving us everything he can. I’ve been in the position where I’ve been booed before in the United Center and I know to get to where we want to get to, we need Carlos. We should be supporting him. I don’t understand that.”

Boozer of course has been battling a turf toe/ligament issue the past few games and appears to sort of be gutting it out. But as the Chicago offense continues to look pedestrian and centered entirely around Derrick Rose, Bulls fans don't care about valid excuses. They want results. And right now, the regular season's best team isn't giving them very good ones and a lot feel Boozer is to blame.

They're right in the sense that the Bulls need Boozer playing at a high level in order to challenge for a championship. Chicago had issues with Indiana and it's no sure thing that the Bulls are advancing past the Hawks at this point. A big reason is the output from Chicago's starting power forward. Just 10 points and long disappeances isn't cutting it right now.
Posted on: May 5, 2011 12:55 am
Edited on: May 5, 2011 1:11 am
 

NBA Playoffs Hawks-Bulls: Noah makes good

Joakim Noah provides the spark for the Bulls in Game 2. 
Posted by Matt Moore

The Bulls can't win if Derrick Rose plays poorly (he can play "not great" as he did Wednesday night, despite what the point total and narratives will tell you, just not badly). But more prevalent in Game 2 was this: the Bulls can't lose if Joakim Noah plays great. 

19 points on 6-8 shooting, 14 rebounds, 7 offensive, 3 steals and 1 block. That's a great line. And it doesn't even cover how big of an impact he had versus the Hawks. 50 percent of the Bulls' offensive rebounds were snagged by Noah. On a night when the Bulls' offense was only slightly less woeful than the Hawks', those seven extra possessions, full of putbacks and resets, were vital. Basically, if you can't produce efficiency with the possessions provided, create more possessions. 

Most notable was his dominance over Al Horford. Horford is generally regarded as the better player. He's more versatile, has better range, is more efficient and a better passer. But in terms of those key plays which make your team that little bit better than the other in key areas, Noah dragged Horford out behind the shed and taught him a thing or two. Which is odd since they both learned about those things at the same university. If Noah's going to get at those key rebounds at that rate over Horford and Josh Smith, the Bulls will simply grind the Hawks into wood shavings, as they did in Game 2. 

Noah's not particularly versatile, but he had the full array going on Wednesday, including the lefty hook early for the first points for the Bulls. It's that production that puts the Bulls at a level just high enough to overcome an inefficient game from Rose and a terrible game from pretty much every other Bull offensively. Noah struggled in the regular season with injury and the first round with energy. But his biggest performances coincide with the Bulls' strongest wins. The Bulls' win over the Hawks in Game 2 wasn't pretty. It was just very Noah. 
Posted on: May 4, 2011 11:00 pm
Edited on: May 5, 2011 12:58 am
 

Ugly for ATL in Game 2 but things are pretty good

Posted by Royce Young



At some point during the fourth quarter, I think the Hawks looked up at the scoreboard in the United Center and realized what we were all thinking.

Hey, at least we got a split.

Because Wednesday night's Game 2 was a complete reversal of good shooting fortune for the Hawks. Unless you're a Bulls fan, that was not a fun 48 minutes of basketball. Both teams shot under 40 percent, with the Hawks clocking in at a paltry 33.8 from the field. The Atlanta bench, which is typically a major weapon, went a combined 3-11 for 13 points (11 coming from Jamal Crawford).

The Bulls got back to their style of basketball, grinding out a win behind excellent perimeter defense, stellar rebounding and just enough from Derrick Rose and his rag-tag bunch of scorers. Not that Chicago looked dominant by any means, because there's still certainly some vulnerability there, but it was a more routine Bulls win. It's exactly what the doctor ordered for Game 2 to even the series.

But the Hawks can walk out of the United Center tonight thinking one thing: mission accomplished. Taking one game is a huge coup, and because they won, the Hawks actually have a shot. Like really, they have a chance in this series. I'm not kidding. This series, much like the Memphis-OKC one, has a real look of seven games written all over it.

The question is how to replicate Game 1 and forget Game 2. The Bulls were obviously much better, and suffocated the Atlanta offense while killing on the glass (58-39 edge). Rose was average (10-27, 24 points, eight turnovers), Carlos Boozer was a non-factor once again and the entire team shot the ball horribly. And yet the Bulls won by 13. It's exactly the way Tom Thibodeau draws it up.

Joe Johnson returned to the Joe Johnson we are all familiar with in postseason play (16 points, 7-15 shooting) He forced things, tried to take over in awkward moments and wasn't able to free himself from the terrific on-ball defense of Luol Deng. But because of Johnson's struggles and Al Horford's rough game (3-12, six points), the Hawks watched as unproven second-year point guard Jeff Teague stepped up in a big way.

Teague's effort in the first two games of this series is probably the second best thing the Hawks are taking back with them to Atlanta (a win being the first). Teague went for 21 on 7-14 shooting Wednesday and played 40 minutes against Chicago's pressure defense without a turnover. In these two games filling in for Kirk Hinrich, Teague has just one turnover. In Game 2, he outplayed the guy that was just handed the MVP trophy by David Stern before the game.

That, along with the snatching of homecourt in Game 1, means the Hawks have a chance. I know, I have to keep saying it to almost convince myself. But with the way that Indiana series went for Chicago, and then the stinker in the opening game against the Hawks, it just feels like the Bulls aren't themselves right now. It feels like they're vulnerable. They're better than they're playing, but it doesn't matter right now. The Hawks have the upper-hand in this series.

Atlanta closed in a few different times on Chicago in the fourth quarter but never approached getting over the hump and taking the lead. While a 2-0 lead would basically be more shocking than the contract Joe Johnson got in the offseason, one win in of itself is big.

It's easy to lose sight of things like that, especially when a team plays as unimaginative as the Hawks did Wednesday. But any road team's goal in the opening two games is to take one and therefore, homecourt. The Hawks accomplished that. And may have found a pretty good point guard in the meantime.
Posted on: May 4, 2011 3:06 am
Edited on: May 4, 2011 3:29 am
 

Playoff Fix: Chicago needs to find itself again

Posted by Royce Young



One Big Thing: So... things didn't go exactly as planned for Chicago in Game 1. The Bulls looked average at best, relying far too heavily on Derrick Rose while just assuming their defense could contain the Hawks. Wrong on both accounts. Atlanta executed down the stretch, while Chicago didn't, and the result is a shocking 1-0 lead for the Hawks.

The question now: Is Rose healthy after re-tweaking his ankle in the final seconds of Game 1? He practiced and, reportedly, there was no swelling. He should be good. But how effective he can be in a game has yet to be seen.

The X-Factor: The Chicago bench has to show a pulse. The Hawks second unit absolutely destroyed the Bulls role players. Granted, it's not really fair when Jamal Crawford is part of the group, but even guys like Jason Collins stepped up big. Chicago got little to none of that from its backups. Someone, whether it's Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer or Taj Gibson, has to show a heartbeat.

The Adjustment: If we're all being honest with ourselves, we saw a Hawks team that knocked down a bunch of outside jumpers. Can they do it again? The Magic asked the same question, and Atlanta answered in buckets. Of course, the Bulls are a better defensive team, so locking down and sealing off the perimeter is probably the focus. Allowing good shooters to get open looks all over the floor is a recipe for failure, and the Hawks made the Bulls pay.

The Sticking Point: The Bulls absolutely can't afford to drop this second game. The Hawks are already guaranteed a split, which is what they went to Chicago hoping for. But, if Atlanta wins Game 2, they've got a firm stranglehold on the series. It will take another steady performance from Jeff Teague and more great shot-making from Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson. Not that the Hawks aren't capable of it, but you can safely assume the Bulls will ratchet things up a bit.

And they better. The Bulls weren't any better than in their series against Indiana, and facing a team like the Hawks, Chicago wasn't ready. Something tells me the Bulls will be prepard tonight, though, and get back in the series.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 2:54 pm
 

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 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.
 
 
 
 
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