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Tag:Joe Johnson
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.
Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: May 2, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Hawks-Bulls Preview: Wings will be clipped

Posted by Royce Young

I. Intro:  No. 5 seed Atlanta Hawks (44-38) vs. No. 1 seed Chicago Bulls (62-20)

It's not really the matchup we all anticipated, but that doesn't change anything. So it's not Dwight Howard versus the Bulls frontcourt, but the Hawks present Chicago an interesting matchup. Really, I get the feeling this series could surprise a bit and be really good.

A challenge for the Hawks though will be to forget about the Orlando series and re-focus here. Because that was a big win for them. They were humilated last year and obviously played with an edge. They need that same kind of motivation and edge to hold down Derrick Rose and the Bulls.

II. What Happened:  A look at the season series

The Bulls took the season series 2-1 over the Hawks with one close loss and two blowout wins. The Hawks scored 14 fewer points a game against the Bulls, were crushed on the glass, shot low percentages and couldn't stop the Bulls. The win the Hawks picked up came because they were able to slow the Bulls down and beat them in an ugly, grind-it-out game.

III. Secret of the Series: Transition

The Bulls play very good defense. The Hawks halfcourt offense can sometimes be bad. Solution? Run.

The Hawks have a bunch of talent and athleticism, especially in their bigs, that can get out in the open floor and run against the Bulls. Josh Smith is terrific in transition. Al Horford runs well. Players like Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford can find secondary opportunities off of fast breaks. Running is a big thing for the Hawks to try and do because it's hard to see them beating the Bulls four times using halfcourt offense.

The Bulls though are very good at controlling pace and keeping teams from running. Obviously Tom Thibodeau knows the Hawks want to run as much as possible and that will be a focus.

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

PG: The Bulls obviously had the edge in this department before Kirk Hinrich's injury, but now it's pretty wide. Jeff Teague will start for the Hawks in Game 1 and might be handling duties the entire series. Either way, the Bulls have a giant edge at point guard. Hinrich is a pesky on-ball defender and Rose would've had to work. His life just got easier. Huge advantage, Bulls. 

SG: This is kind of the opposite of the point guard matchup. Joe Johnson is the main offensive option for Atlanta and Keith Bogans' job is to lock him down. But for Chicago, not only is Bogans healthy, but he's totally capable of limiting Johnson. The Hawks have an edge, but it's not wide. Advantage, Hawks.

SF: Assuming the Hawks stick with the same starting five used against Orlando, Josh Smith will be here against Luol Deng. Obviously Smith has a big size advantage, but Deng is super long and will take Smith out on the perimeter. A lot will come down to if Smith does the same or uses his head and goes inside on Deng. Too close to call for me, so this is a push. 

PF: Carlos Boozer will try to give it a go in Game 1 and will face off in the series against Al Horford. This will be a terrific head-to-head with two big bodies that score well in the post. Definitely a good one to watch. Horford is more consistent and is playing better, so Atlanta has the edge here. Advantage, Hawks. 

C: Again, this will be Jason Collison versus Joakim Noah is things stay the same for Atlanta. If Larry Drew changes things up, he'll have Horford against his old Florida buddy and Marvin Williams at small forard with Smith at power forward. Under the assumption though Collins starts here, Noah has the edge. He played like the animal he is against Indiana and his athleticism could give Collins trouble on the glass. Advantage, Bulls. 

Bench: This is where the Hawks make their move. Jamal Crawford has been an absolute weapon off the bench for Atlanta and even Marvin Williams and Zaza Pachulia chipped in big time against Orlando. The Bulls bench lacked against Indiana other than Kyle Korver. Chicago doesn't look for offense as much as Atlanta does off the bench, but still, the Hawks should win this area easily every game. Advantage, Hawks. 

Coach: Larry Drew did a nice job in Round 1. Tom Thibodeau has emerged as a pretty incredible strategist and game coach. This feels like series that will be more just about matchups than anything else and Drew has the opportunities to use his team's versatility to move things around. But Thibodeau is the superior here. Advantage, Bulls. 

V. Conclusion

The Hawks can win this series. I'm convinced. They have the athletes, the scorers and the confidence to hang right in with the Bulls. Especially after the shaky play Chicago showed in the opening round. The Bulls are the better team, no doubt. They have a better system, won the season series handily and have Derrick Rose. But the Hawks have some talent. Don't overlook them.

That said, it's hard to picture it actually happening. The Bulls are just going to swallow the Hawks in the halfcourt. Atlanta averaged just 80 points per game against the Bulls in the regular season and had one of the worst offenses in the league. Like I said, transition is key, but the Bulls aren't dumb. They know that. The Hawks have the talent to steal one here or there, but the Bulls take this in six.
Posted on: April 29, 2011 2:01 am
Edited on: April 29, 2011 2:20 am
 

Grading the Series: Hawks topple Magic in 6

Grades for Hawks-Magic. Hawks' toughness passes, Magic's composure fails. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Atlanta Hawks

Josh Smith: Smith, by himself, could have probably made this series a sweep if he'd played like a guy with his size and athleticism. Instead, Smith opted to hang out on the perimeter, settling for jumper after jumper. Pull-up, spot-up, the works, while Hedo Turkoglu managed to get past him. Smith has so much potential to take over the game, and has the results when he drove or posted up to prove it. But he continued to waste time with his stubborn obsession with the mid-range and perimeter shooting. That said, he got his production, made some huge defensive plays, and helped the Hawks inside. 

Grade: C-

Joe Johnson: You can't really blame Johnson for being who he is. He goes isolation too often, and it's a huge detriment to the Hawks' overall offense. It was one thing when they didn't have other options. They do now. But he's such an entrenched part of the team that you can't really be surprised. Still, his defense was actually pretty terrific against the wings, and he did average 19 points per game. And he did on just 18 shots per game. Johnson is who he is. We can't grade him well because he wasn't good, we can't grade him too terribly because he didn't kill his team. 

Grade: C+

Al Horford: You can't run every possession through Horford. But, if you could, and he could keep his production, what a different Hawks team it would be. Horford wasn't brilliant, he was just very good, and typically a step above the rest in terms of decision-making and defense. He should have been able to back down Brandon Bass easier, should have been able to shoot over 40 percent more than four times in this series. But he averaged over 5 assists per game the last three games and helped space the floor. His flurry to start Game 4 set the tone. Horford will be the barometer for the hopes of the Hawks going forward in these playoffs and for this franchise. 

Grade: B-

Larry Drew: Benching Al Horford for a half with two fouls. Failing to get his team to focus on ball movement. Failing to close out the Magic in Orlando in 5. Giving up layups late. The list goes on and on. If you're ranking the eight coaches left in the NBA playoffs, Drew has to be dead last. 

Grade: D+

Atlanta's Toughness: Atlanta will get no credit for this as all the attention will be on the Magic's 3-point shooting woes, the Hawks' inconsistent offense, and their slim chances against Chicago. But the Hawks slammed the door on a veteran playoff team in Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead, and that ended the series. The Magic took Game 5 in a shooting flurry, but it was over after Game 4. They scrapped, they challenged, they ran off the 3. They deserve credit for that. 

Grade: A-

Orlando Magic:

Dwight Howard: His Game 6 is supposed to, in some way, tarnish his MVP legitimacy. Yeah, because 25 points and 15 rebounds with 3 blocks is a terrible game in a series where he dominated in rare form. Howard defined dominance in every aspect of this series, and the fact that the Magic couldn't get it done with what he did says worlds about their roster and, yes, pushes him towards the door. 

Grade: A+

Every Magic player who touched the ball on the perimeter and shot: Geometry lessons. Feng shui. Exorcisms. The Magic should literally go to the gym tomorrow morning and shoot until they go back to hitting their correct percentages. They lost this series for the Magic, point blank.

Grade: F-

Orlando's composure: They couldn't adapt, they couldn't adjust, they couldn't get past the reality that the Hawks were outplaying them. Yeah, the shots weren't falling. But at some point in the playoffs you have to make the extra plays to give your team some momentum until the shots start falling. Orlando didn't do that. 

Grade: D-
Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:12 am
Edited on: April 29, 2011 2:27 am
 

Series in Review: Hawks defeat Magic in 6

Hawks take care of business... kind of... in a way. A messy series results in the end of the Magic, with a future in doubt. 
Posted by Matt Moore




An MVP season from the franchise player. A huge midseason trade to upgrade their roster. And the Magic are eliminated in six games by the 5 seed Atlanta Hawks. This is where the sad trumpet plays. You have to give it to the Hawks, though. Despite, you know, the offense, their decision-making, and their coaching, they advance to face the Bulls. Here's how they got it done. 

Series MVP: Jamal Crawford. Crawford averaged 20.5 points per game off the bench. The Magic could sustain the damage done by the Hawks' starters, but Crawford was too much. On top of the desperation knock-out punch in Game 3, Crawford just keep dropping bombs the whole series. Crawford shot just 6-16 in the elimination Game 6, and 3-10 from the perimeter. That terrible performance dropped his 3-point percentage in the series all the way to... 47 percent.  Nice shootin', Tex. 

Best Play: Crawford's buzzer-beater. It wasn't pretty. He didn't call glass. But it's the kind of shot the Hawks seem to hit all series, and Magic never could get a lock on. 



Best moment: Josh Smith blocks the Magic's last desperation shot in Game 6. Josh Smith struggled through most of the series by not committing to his athletic talents and playing too much on the perimeter. Then Smith turns around and blocks the shot at the buzzer to seal the win, and the series, for the Hawks. If that's not the story of Josh Smith's series, and/or career, I don't know what is. 

Worst moment: Zaza Pachulia and Jason Richardson decide to get to know one another. 




Most disappointing performance: The entire Orlando Magic team outside of Dwight Howard. The Magic rely on the perimeter shot. Going cold is one thing. Failing to make the extra pass is another. Not adjusting and forcing the ball inside, especially when the Hawks opened lanes for them to do just that, is a whole other level. Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Ryan Anderson, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, and yes, Gilbert Arenas; the whole lot of them failed to live up to their contracts and their responsibilities. Big ol' Fail for them.

Making a name: Kirk Hinrich? We know the Hawks. They've been together. But Hinrich showed that he can still put in buckets and play defense. His injury may be the biggest story going into Hawks-Bulls. 

Theme of the Series: The Offense from Hell. There were some good games in this series. Some legitimately great defense. But there were also entire quarters defined by Hawks isolation after Hawks isolation and missed Magic 3-pointer after missed Magic 3-pointer. If the Hawks had managed ball movement with any consistency they could have ended this in four. If the Magic had actually landed a few shots, they could have made it out of the first round. There's good defense, and then there's bad offense. We saw both in this series. 
Posted on: April 28, 2011 9:53 am
 

Playoff Fix: Magic have to live by the 3

Hawks try to close the Magic out, but if Orlando can stay warm from the outside, they'll force a Game 7.
Posted by Matt Moore

One Big Thing:  The Magic have to stay hot from the perimeter. This series really does come down to shooting percentages. Everything else evens out, even Dwight's impact inside, marginalized by the work of Josh Smith, Al Horford and the Atlanta bigs. It just comes down to whether the 3-point barrage from Orlando can hold up. That's what this game, and this series, will be decided on. Seems simple, because it is. Make shots, and Orlando's going to push this to seven. 

The X-Factor: J.J. Redick wasn't bombing from deep in Game 5, but he was doing work off the dribble. Yes, little J.J.'s all grown up. The Magic need a ball-handler who can score off the bench whose name isn't a grill and whose knees haven't been through multiple surgeries in four season.  Redick was hampered by injury at the end of the regular season and start of this series. He looked back to his old self in Game 5. That holds up, and that takes the sting out of Jamal Crawford, the real eternal X-Factor in this series. 

The Adjustment: The Hawks have to get back to what worked in the first four games: running off 3-pointers, doubling, and recovering. All the damage the Magic did inside compounded the outside and vice-versa. The Hawks aren't going to improve on offense. They're going to have more bad possessions than good. But defensively, they spark fast breaks, which is where their best ball-movement comes from. Letting the Magic fire away will guarantee the Hawks suffer the ignominy of losing a series they were up 3-1 in. 

The Sticking Point: The Magic really showed they were a better team when the shots were falling in Game 5. That has to put the fear of God into Atlanta. If the Hawks don't get a break and have the Magic miss a few early ones, Atlanta could come undone. This is a deciding game in this series, and not just because the Magic remain on the edge of elimination. A loss and the Hawks enter full-on meltdown mode. Just like that, a series that looked to be theirs can wind up firmly in Orlando's grasp. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com