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Tag:2011 second-round playoffs
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.
Posted on: May 9, 2011 10:38 am
Edited on: May 9, 2011 11:23 am
 

Ref admits blowing call vs. Bulls

Official admits mistake in key call against Bulls in Game 4.
Posted by Matt Moore

Against the Hawks in Game 4, Derrick Rose tried the old "pump-fake and draw" approach on a 3-pointer. The defender was moving when contact was drawn, and refereee Bennett Salvatore blew the whistle. Then, he ruled it an "inadvertent whistle," no foul, and there was a jump ball. Steve Aschburner spoke to Salvatore post-game , and in a rare instance of transparency, a league official admitted his mistake. 

"I was positive it was not a foul. ... Having watched replay, it was a foul."


Well, then, that settles it. The league obviously has a vendetta against the small-market Chicago Bulls. Had that foul been awarded, Rose clearly would have hit all seven free throws necessary for the Bulls to take the lead and held off the Hawks for the remainder of the game. I mean, despite the fact that the Hawks outplayed the Bulls for four quarters, who comes back from from that kind of play?

Oh, wait, it would have only been three free throws when the Bulls were down six, and would have done nothing to change the fact that the Bulls couldn't hit sand if the dropped from the sky into Death Valley. And while momentum definitely would have shifted, let's not forget the way the Hawks responded to every Bulls charge in this game. It was a blown call. They happen. But no one is out to get the Bulls, and especially not the MVP. It was a tough break, but if the Bulls had played offensively with any sense of focus or coherency, they wouldn't care about this call. 

Nothing to see here, folks. Move on. 
Posted on: May 8, 2011 11:43 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 12:23 am
 

Bulls fail big in crunch time; what happened?

Posted by Royce Young



With 4:31 remaining in Game 4, Derrick Rose made a slick driving layup to knot the game at 84-84. With the terrific Chicago defense and Rose's ability, common sense said to bet on the Bulls for those last four minutes.

But it went wrong for the Bulls. All wrong. Atlanta outscored Chicago 16-4 to close, and not only evened the series 2-2, but revealed some major, glaring scratches in the Chicago armor.

We all spent a lot of time really discussing -- some hammering -- on Russell Westbrook for his play in crunch time for the Thunder in their Game 3. And, while Rose often seems to get a pass because he doesn't have Kevin Durant standing on the wing, let's face facts. Rose attempted 32 shots, made only 12 and really hurt his team down the stretch. I get the differences between him and Westbrook, I really do. He'll get grace for this effort, but I'm not so sure the MVP deserves it.

Let's look at those last four minutes.

4:08, 86-84 Atlanta:
Joakim Noah comes high to set a screen on Jeff Teague and Rose knifes through the hedge, attacking the rim early in the shot clock. He gets there, albeit slightly out of control. It's a shot he's capable of making, though. And that's something you want. You want Rose attacking. But Josh Smith rotates well, challenges Rose high and the ball doesn't catch any iron.

3:45, 88-84 Atlanta: Similar as the last set, with Rose attacking the rim hard. He shoots wildly with 17 on the shot clock as Kyle Korver stands fairly open on the wing. Marv Albert immediately says, "We're seeing a lot of one-on-one from Derrick Rose the last couple of minutes." Now again, it's the ever-present catch-22 of having a player like Rose. You want him taking over, but you also want him to remember he has four other guys on the floor with him.

3:11, 88-84 Atlanta: Chicago regains possession and it looks like the Bulls are about to run another pick-and-roll with Noah and Rose. Rose tries to crossover, and loses the handle. Turnover.

2:33, 90-84 Atlanta: After a timeout by the Bulls, it really appears that the Bulls have a direct set they're going to. Kyle Korver sets a hard screen on Rose's man and there's good action happening. Except Rose stops, pumps and tries to draw contact on Jamal Crawford who had left his feet. It was most likely a foul on Crawford, but ref Bennett Salvatore rules it was an inadvertent whistle and calls a jump ball. The point is, though, it appears Rose ignored the set and improvised. He attempted his shot with 19 on the 24. I can't think that's what Tom Thibodeau drew up.

2:02, 92-84 Atlanta: Panic offense from the Bulls here. Rose dribbles right as Korver rolls to the top of the key. Joakim Noah tries to screen two Hawk defenders at once, but Teague gets through with ease. Korver doesn't care, launching a 28-foot clanker that barely catches front iron.

1:25, 94-84 Atlanta: The Bulls execute their first successful offensive play of the last couple minutes. Rose dribbles to the corner, Luol Deng cuts hard behind Crawford and scores easily at the rim. Pretty play.

1:01, 97-86 Atlanta: One pass to Korver, who throws it away. There's not much else to say about this possession. Just terrible offense and a bad decision.

0:47, 97-86 Atlanta: After a missed dunk in transition by Josh Smith, Rose is able to get into the open court and finish with a layup. And that was it for the Bulls.

In the fourth quarter, Derrick Rose was 6-12 from the floor. The rest of the team was 1-4. Now this has been Chicago all season long. Rose is the scorer, he just happens to play point guard. But recall those great finishes against the Pacers in the opening round. Remember how it was Rose carrying the team and then the last few minutes setting up teammates? Remember the big, open shots from Kyle Korver?

What was most interesting to me about this game was how Carlos Boozer was actually keyed in and playing well. But those last four minutes, he didn't get one touch. Three Bulls actually touched the ball those last four minutes -- Rose, Deng and Korver. Noah and Boozer never had the leather in their hands.

Again, back to the Westbrook debate, the question is, who's at fault? Is this on Rose who is the point guard captaining the offense? On Thibodeau for bad offensive design? Or on the other four Bulls on the court for not doing more to get free from defenders? Much like with the Thunder, I lean towards all of the above.

No, Rose doesn't have Kevin Durant on his team, but ignoring Boozer and the three other guys is inexcusable. I mean, why does everyone act like Rose is playing with four clowns or something? This Bulls team won 62 games because the TEAM is good. He has four other NBA players on the floor with him. A couple of them pretty darn good. No, a gifted scorer like Durant isn't one of them, but let's not act like Rose has the kind of roster around him that gives him free reign to fire from the hip at will.

There's no denying that 32 shots from Rose isn't a winning formula. I'd say he took two bad ones during this sequence and the turnover was careless. But he is the Chicago offense. It's been that way all season. And it's not like he settled. Only nine of his 32 attempts came outside of the paint. He attacked. He just had tunnel vision once he went after the iron. But I don't think you can hammer Rose too hard for shot selection. He just maybe called on himself a bit too much.

We've all agreed the Chicago offense has to be a bit more dynamic and socialistic if the Bulls are going to beat the likes of Miami or Boston. Rose will have to lead the way but 32 shots and only four for his teammates in the entire fourth quarter isn't good. The Hawks are figuring Rose and the Bulls out. Just imagine what the Heat and Celtics will do.
Posted on: May 8, 2011 8:54 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2011 9:28 pm
 

Tyson Chandler: The man who ended an empire

There were dozens of reasons (that came in 3's) why the Mavericks were better than the Lakers. But the man in the middle gave Dallas the chance to down the champs.
Posted by Matt Moore



  There will be talk of Dirk Nowitzki's excellence. There will be talk of the outright barrage that Jason Terry helped lead, along with Peja Stojakovic and Jason Kidd from the perimeter. There will be time to talk about the Lakers' abject mental and emotional collapse. But we should take a moment and recognize that, while the 3-point bombs may have given the Mavericks the points to overcome the Lakers, it was a man who was cast off years ago who truly brought the Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals. 

In the early months of 2010, Mark Cuban recognized the real problem with facing the Lakers. Sure, Kobe Bryant was going to hurt you and Pau Gasol's touch and post moves were going to seem overwhelming. The athletic talent is incredible. But the biggest advantage the Lakers have? Size and length. Pau Gasol, 7-0. Andrew Bynum, 7-0, Lamar Odom, 6-10. That's an absolutely humongous front line, even if only two of them are in the game at the same time. The advantage doesn't just come in first-shots or defending the rim, or offensive rebounds. It's in interrupting passing lanes and tipping in shots from six feet out. You could survive Kobe Bryant's perimeter onslaught. But the Lakers' massive size advantage could not be bested unless you brought in bigger and better players. 

Which is what Cuban did. Cuban first traded for Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler. When that didn't work out, the Mavericks' management team, with Donnie Nelson at the helm, acquired Tyson Chandler. And all of a sudden, the Mavericks' entire identity changed. You had to really watch this year to notice it, and not just get caught up in the "same ol' Mavericks" talk that permeates so much discussion.  The Mavericks were tougher inside, able to counter off the bench with Haywood. Dirk Nowitzki was no longer the tallest or most active defender. 

Against the Lakers. Pau Gasol got a healthy dose of Chandler. While Gasol's failures are a whole other discussion in and of themselves, Chandler's defense both man-up and on help were a huge part of why the Mavericks were able to contain the Lakers defensively. No longer able to overwhelm the Mavericks inside, despite a stellar series from Andrew Bynum (right up until the point he committed one of the most embarrassing flagrant fouls in NBA playoff history), the Lakers just kept chucking 3-pointers. And they were unable to hit anything that even resembled a shot. Seriously, most of us thought many of them were passes. 

The Lakers' problems go deep, and the Mavericks' successes even deeper. But Tyson Chandler not only helped negate the Lakers' biggest advantage, but even landed a few alley-oops. Chandler set the tone and brought the Mavericks a new attitude. It takes a lot of toughness to make the champs into wimps, to turn a dynasty to dust. After so many years as an after-thought, Tyson Chandler is the first line of defense for a team headed to the Conference Finals. 
Posted on: May 8, 2011 6:48 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2011 7:21 pm
 

The Mavs shoot the Lakers down from deep

Posted by Royce Young



One way to close out the two-time defending champions and leave no doubt of a historic collapse? Make everything.

That's pretty much what the Mavericks did to complete an unexpected sweep of the Lakers with a 122-86 destruction in Game 4. The story is, of course, the Lakers, along with Phil Jackson and the team's embarrassing, classless finish. Which is a shame because the Mavs shooting was something else. I still can't decide what was dirtier: Andrew Bynum's foul or Jason Terry's 3-point shooting. Because both were pretty sick.

Terry went 9-10 from deep, which tied an NBA playoff record (shared by Vince Carter, Ray Allen and Rex Chapman). Peja Stojakovic went 6-6 from 3 and, as a team, the Mavs tied an NBA playoff record with 20 makes from beyond the arc. In all, they shot 62.5 percent from 3 (20-32), with seven guys hitting at least one.

After the game, Terry was asked when he knew it was going to be a good day for him. Here's what he said: "When I woke up this morning. Mom's cooking. It's Mother's Day. I know she's here and I love and I thank God for her."

Here's how good it was for the Mavs on this day: Even Brian Cardinal was 1-1 from 3.

Now you've got to wonder... Were the Mavs just hot, or was the Lakers' perimeter defense that bad? It was both. Those two things worked hand-in-hand. The Lakers presented the Mavs' shooters a number of good looks, but the Dallas marksmen did the hard part -- they knocked them down.

Some days, it just gets rolling for you. Terry had it working, and tied the NBA record in just three quarters. Stojakovic was disciplined, taking only the wide open looks the Laker defense presented. And the entire team had a great offensive pace and look about it for four quarters. Cool, calm confidence and smooth execution. The drive-and-kick worked like clockwork as Mavs shooters -- Terry and Stojakovic specifically -- basically just waited for their next open shot.

But in a game that held quite a bit of pressure and anxiety, the fact the Mavs kept their heads clear and hands steady, and knocked down such a ridiculous rate from outside, says a lot about them. They weren't about to let any doubt creep in about a Laker comeback. They were going to snuff that out entirely. And they did it from outside.
Posted on: May 8, 2011 6:07 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2011 6:49 pm
 

Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom ejected for dirty hits

Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers were ejected for dirty plays late in Game 4 against the Dallas Mavericks. Posted by Ben Golliver.

If you thought Ron Artest's clothesline of J.J. Barea in Game 2 was the definition of disgracing yourself in defeat, think again.

The Los Angeles Lakers sank to a new low, as two starters were ejected as the team was swept out of the Western Conference semifinals in four games by the Dallas Mavericks.

First, it was forward Lamar Odom, who shoved Mavericks All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki near the three-point line. With the Mavericks leading 94-68 with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Odom leaned hard into Nowitzki as he looked to establish position near the arc. Nowitzki fell immediately to the ground and Odom was whistled for a flagrant foul and immediately ejected.

Here's a look at Odom's hit on Nowitzki.


That wasn't nearly the worst of it, though. The worst came less than a minute later. 

The cheapest play of the playoffs distinction goes to Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who delivered a forearm shiver to the chest of Barea, who was exposed in mid-air as he was attempting a runner. Bynum made no play whatsoever on the ball and was issued a flagrant foul and immediately ejected. He took his jersey off and stomped off the court, with Artest serving as his escort underneath a cascade of boos.

Here's a look at Bynum's dirty hit on Barea. 

For more on the Lakers disgrace, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger has you covered.
Posted on: May 8, 2011 3:34 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 10:40 am
 

Rondo, West expected to play Game 4 after MRIs

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers says Rajon Rondo and Delonte West will play in Game 4 following MRIs. Posted by Ben Golliver.
rajon-rondo-elbow

UPDATE: Rondo was given an X-ray, MRI and CT scan and all results were negative. He's being officially listed as questionable for Game 4.

During Saturday's Game 3 against the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics guards Rajon Rondo and Delonte West both went down with injury. For Rondo, it was a gruesome dislocated elbow  while West suffered a shoulder injury just before halftime.

Boston.com reports that both players underwent MRIs and that Celtics coach Doc Rivers expects both to be available to play in Monday night's Game 4, although he expressed a bit of apprehension regarding Rondo. 
"Right now we're going with they're all playing," said Rivers, who was including Shaquille O'Neal. "Hopefully we'll know something by the end of our film session. Obviously (Rondo's elbow) was far more painful today, a lot of swelling."
"If he can't help our team (Rondo won't play)," the coach said. "And if he can play, how well can he play and will he help or hurt our team? No. 1, we're not going to hurt the player and we're not going to do anything to hurt the team. It may not be until game time and the game until we find that out. Right now, that may be the case. I am optimstic about both, that they're going to play." 
Here's video of Rondo's gruesome injury which occurred after he got tangled up with Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade.



If both Rondo and West are unable to go, look for the Celtics to activate reserve point guard Carlos Arroyo, who played for the Heat earlier this season.

For more on Rondo's heroic return, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger has you covered .
Posted on: May 8, 2011 11:12 am
Edited on: May 8, 2011 11:19 am
 

Playoff Fix: Atlanta's easy way out

The Hawks don't really have to win Game 4 to be proud of their season, it's all gravy from here, really. But if they want to make this series go longer, they're going to have to make some serious changes. 
Posted by Matt Moore




One Big Thing:  The Atlanta Hawks aren't really on the hook for Gaem 4. They stole a game in Chicago, made a good effort in Game 2, and then Game 3 really did show that they're just outclassed. The Hawks will continue to face derision from media and fans, but the reality is that they did make progress this year. They won a game in the second round. Granted, based on this pattern of improvement, they're scheduled to win the title in 2088, but still. The Hawks can be blamed for their isolation offense, for their allowance of huge performances from stars, for Josh Smith shooting 3-pointers.  But they can't be blamed for the Bulls being better, which they are. How the Hawks choose to respond in Game 4 will say a lot about them. Again, they can fold, and you shouldn't think any worse of them. The Bulls are a much better team.  But if the Hawks come out and play with fire, once again pushing the top team in the East and forcing this series to go at least some distance, they'll show that at least they're not willing to go quietly. 

The X-Factor: It's tempting to throw any number of Hawks in here: Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, but since we know we can't count on them (Teague is the best bet, can you believe that?), let's go with a Bull: C.J. Watson.  As if Derrick Rose's onslaught wasn't enough, Watson came off the bench in Game 3 with 8 points and got to the line twice in just ten minutes. The Hawks have shown they can survive big performances from stars (Dwight Howard). But if the bench is going to keep up the production, they're must going to drown defensively. 

The Adjustment: Surely, Josh Smith will start to hear the boos and recognize that you can't, you just can't keep taking those long-range jumpers. The boos from his home crowd (which will undeniably be a little less homey in Game 4)! Smith keeps taking those shots, despite the opportunity to take Carlos Boozer off the dribble and how well the Hawks play when he becomes aggressive. At this point, the best bet for the Hawks is classical conditioning using the Hawks crowd as a reward system. Maybe they should set up a bell system to tell him when to drive. Pavlov's Dog doesn't seem like a crazy approach if it gets the job done. Smith has gutted his own offense with his decision making in the playoffs. 

The Sticking Point: Jeff Teague actually played really well. There was just no stopping Derrick Rose, especially with his mid-range jumper falling. If the same is in place in Game 4, the Hawks have no shot. It sounds simple, because it is. If Rose's mid-range jumper is falling, the Hawks are done and might as well not even make the flight to Chicago for Game 5. But if it's not, and they start attacking the basket themselves, Atlanta has an opportunity to get this series further down the road. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com