Tag:Kyle Korver
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 7, 2011 5:38 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 4:21 pm
 

Road to the Finals: Chicago Bulls

We continue our Road to the Finals series with the Chicago Bulls as they get set to face the Boston Celtics Thursday night.
Posted by Matt Moore




No one likes to admit they were wrong. In the long list of people who are willing to admit they're wrong, sports writers are just above politicians and below artists. It's a product of the kind of currency that operates among sports editors and a result of the kind of comments you'll see litter most posts about sports across the internet. So this isn't exactly easy. 

I was wrong

Way wrong. 

Monumentally stupid would be another way to put it, but we're going to roll with just wrong. Back in July, before we'd seen a lick of basketball, we ran our offseason grades. In appraising the Bulls, I looked at Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and Keith Bogans and didn't see it. I initially gave them a C+, then considering their total positioning of their current roster, upgraded them to a B-. Sure, they'd be better than the 8th seed they were in 2010. But were they really going to be that much better? Were they really going to compete for a title? Were they really going to be great?

Yes. Yes they were. 

The Bulls are a great team. And they enter the playoffs at their absolute zenith. They are led by the all-but-elected MVP Derrick Rose, who we'll get to. Their coach is the near-lock Coach of the Year. We'll get to him, too. They defend, can run, can play in the half-court, they rebound, and they have that rare ability to find the way to win. Their being at the top of the Eastern Conference should not be a surprise if you've been watching this season. They've been great. The playoffs will give them the chance to prove it. 




For Chicago, everything starts with the defense. Everything. Tom Thibodeau has crafted the Bulls in his own image, the same image that the Celtics have taken on over the course of his tenure there. The principles are simple. Communicate, demonstrate, suffocate. You watch the Bulls defend the pick and roll, and it's no wonder that they're the second best pick and roll defense team in the league according to Synergy Sports. They lead the league in field goal percentage allowed in the pick and roll, thanks to their system. When the ball handler initiates the set, there will be three players geared towards it for the Bulls. The ball-handler's defender, who fights through the screen, the roll-man's defender, who peels back, playing between the roll man and the ball-handler, and a third help-defender, either from the corner or wing.  The roll-defender will call out which way the ball handler is coming off, while the other players indicate if they need further help from the off-ball defenders. Communicate. If the ball-handler goes wide around the pick, the roll-man or weak-side help shows hard, cutting off the lane to discourage the drive. Demonstrate. And if the ball-handler stops his dribble to consider a shot, pass, or if he passes the roll-man, whose man inevitably is recovering fast on him, help defense immediately closes, chokes off passing lanes, attacks the ball, and aims for the turnover. Suffocate. 

More impressive for the Bulls than their defense when they know what the opponent is going to do is how they react when they don't. Get loose on the baseline off an excellent pass, past your man, and you'll find Joakim Noah stepping into the take the charge from the weak-side, his hands straight up to close off the passing lane for the dump-off to his man he just left. Stutter-step inside, and you'll find wave after wave of swiping hands, disrupting the dribble just enough to either force the turnover, a back-out, or rush the shot. No matter what you do, the Bulls have an answer. And if you somehow manage to create a driving lane, fill it, and then kick out to the open shooter whose man has come in and that pass does find its mark? They run off the three ball as well as any team in the league. You can beat them. You just have to be consistently on-target in every phase of execution. 


Road To The Finals
And that kind of coherency is the result of the biggest acquisition I overlooked. Tom Thibodeau. It's one thing to design a near-perfect system, another to translate it into terms your players recognize and respond to, and another entirely to motivate them to execute that plan night after night after night. The Bulls have consistently come out with the same effort and intensity, and if they don't, they hear about it. Thibodeau's a screamer, the hoarse sound of his voice like Tom Waits through a megaphone, but his team has responded. Professionals usually don't this way. Especially not with veterans like Carlos Boozer on the team. But they have. They want to play for Thibodeau, to execute what he preaches, and they've found the success therein.

A lot has been made of the Bulls' success despite the massive injuries they've suffered through, but in reality, you have to wonder if those games without Carlos Boozer or Joakim Noah actually helped the Bulls. Down a man, it meant there could be no deflection of responsibility by the Bulls' front line, no question of where the buck stopped. Each player had to step up. Noah had to step up for Boozer's absence, Boozer for Noah's, the bench for both. Having to answer to your team is a lost element in most NBA environments, but the Bulls have bred one. It's that attitude that may be the biggest advantage they have in the playoffs. 




So how do the Bulls get to the Finals? If they think it will be like the regular season, they're mistaken. But there are playoff veterans on these teams. Luol Deng was around when the Bulls were Eastern Conference contenders in the mid-00's. Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver have seen the Western Conference Finals. Thibodeau has seen the best and worst the Finals can provide. They're not lacking in experience. How they adjust to matchups will be a considerable challenge for Thibodeau, who for the most part has abandoned control of the offense to Rose, and who has seen what can happen if a team has the perimeter abilities to best his help defense. 

That's right, the Magic. 

The Magic are overlooked as contenders on the whole. Their biggest strength, three-point shooting, isn't what it used to be. Dwight Howard is a beast, but one you can live with most nights. Their defense is exceptionally strong, but suffers when it faces a superior point guard. Their ability to get hot, however, is going to be a concern if things play out as expected and the Bulls run into them in the second round. Thibodeau is 1-1 against the Magic. His loss came against them when he was without Kevin Garnett. He will be without Garnett this time. Carlos Boozer is a fine post player, but far from a defensive stalwart, and nothing like KG. The challenge will be managing to challenge the Magic on the pick and roll if the kickout to the Magic's shooter start working. Start dropping 3-pointers like their hot, and the brilliant Thibodeau defense is held largely neutralized. It can't keep defenders on the perimeter without sacrificing help on the driving lanes, and it can't focus on the driving lanes without surrendering long, uncontested 3-pointers. The Magic will likely unravel due to their subpar talent. But if there's a matchup issue in the playoff, that's the one. 

Which is not to see the rest would be easy. Sure, the Pacers are too young, too inexperienced and too composite to form a stiff challenge, even if Roy Hibbert can do some damage. But in general, there's little chance of the Pacers making a significant push, barring an unforeseen light-year distance jump by Darren Collison or Danny Granger

So already, we've got the Bulls penciled in for the Conference Finals. That's how far they've come. Once there, that's the colossal games, the big ones, the legendary ones, a preview of which will be played Thursday night against the Celtics. If you'd asked anyone who the Bulls would rather see in the Conference Finals, the Heat or the Celtics, the answer would have been the Celtics back in preseason. That's not a knock on the defending East champs, that's because on the surface, the Heat should have the versatility at position by the Big 3 and the kind of size and muscle combined with ability to overwhelm the Bulls defensively, and the defense to hold them in check. Hasn't been the case. The big difference in a series against the Heat is Luol Deng. Deng's defensive abilities have long been underrated, but under Thibodeau, they've reached a new level. His versatility helps him hang with both James' size and speed, and if need be, he can switch to Wade and use his length to force long contested jumpers. It sounds strange to say, but the Heat are largely overmatched by the Bulls. 

The Celtics are a different ballgame altogether. The two teams have met three times this season, with each team missing a key starter at one point or another in all three. Thursday marks the first time we've seen them at full strength, and the last until a possible Eastern Conference Finals matchup. The Celtics know about Thibs' defense, and Thibs knows about the Celtics. He has their scouting report, knows their tendencies, knows what the weaknesses are. But the Celtics are stronger offensively with the same defensive prowess and better personnel. This is, quite simply, the biggest clash of powerhouses until the Finals, and while neither team will pull out all the stops, it will be a bloodbath.




The swing vote in all this for the Bulls is one man: Rose. 

The Bulls' offense is largely a product of innovation. Thibodeau has a playbook, a set of elements to run, and works with the Bulls to accent their strengths. But the Bulls are not a top offensive team. They're still finding their way, don't hit a lot of shots, despite adding shooters in Keith Bogans and Kyle Korver. Carlos Boozer is doing his Carlos Boozer thing, but he won't be mistaken for Amar'e Stoudemire (though his defense is clearly better than STAT's, which says a lot about Stoudemire's). Joakim Noah has an okay jumper and a few moves. Deng's 3-point shooting has been a boon as has his mid-range game this season, but overall, the Bulls are just not an offensive powerhouse. 

Until Rose kicks it into gear. Rose really is a one-man dervish. The knock on him at the beginning of the season was he couldn't create contact, didn't get to the line enough. If he fixed that, and now regularly finishes after contact. His first-step on the drive is all speed. His second is all explosion. The rest is a highlight reel. He gets from perimeter to bucket faster and with more power than any player in the league, and that's including LeBron James. He can single-handedly change games for the Bulls. And he's going to need to. The team will probably struggle at times in the playoffs, maybe in surprising ways. They will go only as far as Rose can take them. It's an awfully lot on his shoulders at such a young age, but then, this is how sports legends are made. 




The Bulls look every bit ready to challenge the Eastern Conference at every turn. They are committed, they are well-practiced, and they are effective. They have written the perfect story of a regular season for such a new team. Now we'll have to see what they do for an ending. 
Posted on: February 2, 2011 11:36 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2011 11:40 pm
 

Blake Griffin alley oop dunk on Kyle Korver video

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin dunks over Chicago Bulls forward Kyle Korver on an alley oop pass. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Oh me, oh my. Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin did it again. During the second quarter of a Wednesday night game against the Chicago Bulls, Griffin corralled an alley oop pass from Clippers guard Randy Foye in transition and stuffed it home over Bulls forward Kyle Korver. The Staples Center crowd, as always, went nuts. 

Take a look at the video.



The dunk cut Chicago's lead to 48-45.
Posted on: January 24, 2011 4:17 pm
 

Will Deron Williams be the next Carmelo Anthony?

Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams expresses some reservations about the team's future. Posted by Ben Golliver. deron-williams

The Carmelo Anthony trade talks are in a bit of a lull, so to help fill the space let's take a crack at which NBA superstar will be the next to hijack the league's media coverage with his desire to change teams. The top early candidates, obviously, are Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, but NBA.com reports that we shouldn't count out Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams.
"It should be happening by now," Williams said last week. "We've just got to figure it out. We can't just come out and expect teams to give us games."
The "it" in Williams' mind is the maddening inconsistency of the Jazz, culminating in Utah's 0-fer road trip, including bad losses at  Washington and  New Jersey.
The Jazz have lost four straight, dropped to second place in the Northwest Division and are just 4-6 in their last 10 games. Things could be a lot worse, no doubt, but 2011 conventional wisdom says that NBA superstars aren't content to count their blessings, instead intent on finding greener pastures.

NBA.com also notes that Williams was frustrated with all of the roster turnover this summer, which included guard Wesley Matthews being signed by the Portland Trail Blazers, and Kyle Korver and Carlos Boozer departing to the Chicago Bulls.
"We lost Wes, we lost Kyle, we lost Booze, and it was like, 'What are we going to do?' And we bounced back and we added some good guys. We added Al, we added Earl, we picked up Gordon (Hayward) and Jeremy (Evans) in the Draft, and they've been two bright additions to the team. And I was pleased. We got Raj."
But is Utah as good defensively as it used to be? And does this team have the luxury of working all those new players in?
"Not really," Williams said. "My contract's up in two years. It's a now or never situation. I don't know what I'm going to do after this one."
Guh. That's a tough load to take for Utah fans, as Williams' words read like a soft ultimatum. Essentially: Get me help, or else.

Utah has historically been one of the best run franchises in the league, however it's a difficult destination to land a high-profile free agent. Ownership has expressed a desire to be financially prudent, which makes it difficult to compete with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics of the world given the size of the Salt Lake City market.

The best case scenario for Utah fans: a new collective bargaining agreement that includes a franchise tag that would help keep Williams in a Jazz uniform. 

The worst case scenario? Just look across the Rocky Mountains.
Posted on: September 24, 2010 9:41 am
 

Preseason Primer: Chicago Bulls

Posted by Matt Moore
 
The Bulls needed upgrades, they've got upgrades. Carlos Boozer is the low-post presence they've been dreaming of. Kyle Korver is the perimeter shooter they've been amiming for. Ronnie Brewer is the shutdown perimeter man they've been needing. The Bulls upgraded at all the spots they needed to. Now it's just a matter of making things work together. And that's where we begin our Preseason Primer on the Bulls.

Training camp site: Chicago, IL

Training camp starts: September 28th

Key additions: Carlos Boozer (free agency), Kyle Korver (free agency), Ronnie Brewer (free agency)

Key subtractions: Brad Miller (free agency), Kirk Hinrich (trade), Hakim Warrick (free agency)

Likely starting lineup:
Derrick Rose, Kyle Korver, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah

Player to watch: Taj Gibson. Gibson played well last season with extremely limited expectations. The questions in camp will surround his ability to develop under what is considered to be a very low ceiling. Gibson needs to expand his offensive repertoire and improve on the glass.


Chemistry quiz: Derrick Rose lead by example last season; he'll have to be vocal in that leadership this season. Seeing if Carlos Boozer can defer to a player as young as Rose is also a question. Then there's the looming question of the impact of the prospective trade for Carmelo Anthony. The last time the Bulls were discussing trading for a superstar, that player went on to win two (and possibly more) titles and the Bulls imploded. Should be fun to watch.


Camp battles: Backup shooting guard is going to be one to sort out, with Ronnie Brewer the defensive stopper and C.J. Watson the scoring type. Seeing who's going to be the primary rebounder between Noah and Boozer should be a good one to watch as well.

Injury issues:
The Bulls seem awfully healthy going into camp.

Biggest strength: Defense. They have a defensive whiz in Tom Thibodeau taking over. Boozer can defend, in certain situations. Rose is improving. Brewer is a lockdown guy. Noah is a stopper. They have all the ability in the world to get stops, if they can communicate with one another.

Glaring weakness: Elitism. Derrick Rose is a divisive figure in terms of where he ranks among the top point guards. Carlos Boozer is a divisive figure in terms of where he ranks among the top power forwards. Joakim Noah is a divisive figure in terms of where he ranks among the top centers. If they want to compete with the Celtics and Heat, they have to be at the top of those lists.
Posted on: September 24, 2010 1:32 am
 

Preseason Primer: Utah Jazz

Posted by Matt Moore
 
Losing your second best player to free agency should be the kind of thing that sets your franchise back coniderably (don't tell the Suns). But the Utah Jazz, the model of consistency in the NBA since Jerry Sloan took over back in the Paleozoic Era, they just keep plugging right along. Making smart, well-reasoned decisions have led them to replacing Carlos Boozer with Al Jefferson. The question is if they can pick up where they left off. And that's where we begin the latest of our Preseason Primers with the Utah Jazz.

Training camp site: Salt Lake City, Utah

Training camp starts: September 28th

Key additions: Al Jefferson (trade), Raja Bell (free agency), Francisco Elson (free agency)

Key subtractions: Carlos Boozer (free agency), Kyle Korver (free agency), Wesley Matthews (free agency), Kosta Koufos (traded)

Likely starting lineup: Deron Williams (PG), C.J. Miles (SG), Andrei Kirilenko (SF), Al Jefferson (PF), Mehmet Okur (C)

Player to watch: Paul Millsap. Al Jefferson was brought in to replace Carlos Boozer, after Paul Millsap was given a huge new contract to replace Boozer. Now that Jefferson has arrived, Millsap finds himself in one of two positions entering camp. He either needs to battle on the glass and play "big" enough to prove he can play in tandem with Jefferson, or he needs to detonate to a degree where Sloan has a legitimate quandray on his hands between the two. Under the right circumstances, either is possible, though neither is likely.


Chemistry quiz: This really all comes down to Jefferson. Deron Williams is still the floor general, and many of the Jazz players have been there for years. Jefferson faces tremendous pressure not only to make an impact immediately, but to work in tandem with Deron Williams and commit himself to Sloan's defensive principles. The Jazz aren't exactly a superstar-centric team, and Jefferson has to prove he can fit that model from the get-go.


Camp battles: Outside of the aforementioned Millsap-Jefferson rumble, shooting guard should be lively. Raja Bell has had enough time off to be completely healthy, but he's got a lot of miles on those wheels. C.J. Miles has a fresher set of treads, but he's also maddeningly inconsistent.

Injury issues:
Deron Williams was severely banged up at the end of last season, so keeping him in the best health possible is top priority. Mehmet Okur may or may not be available by start of the season, so that will be the biggest injury to keep an eye on. The Jazz have been banged up in general over the past few years, and that's before you factor in the knee problems of Al Jefferson. Keep the tape handy, trainer man.

Biggest strength: Versatility. The Jazz have the ability to get up the floor, to slow it down when need be, to work out of the post to an improved degree, and to hit from the perimeter. They play solid defense and can compete with anyone. Those elements shouldn't shift much with the new additions.

Glaring weakness: Cohesiveness. The Jazz have mostly had positive runs over the past six years, but the lows tend to be really low. Jerry Sloan will need to work with what is now a younger team to develop consistency. Additionally, while the Jazz have been very good, they've lacked a ceiling of great. That's the level they need to get to if they want to contend in the West.
Posted on: September 8, 2010 4:20 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2010 5:17 pm
 

NBA F&R Interview: Carlos Boozer wants one back

The Bulls newest star talks about Jerry Sloan, championship dreams, and the one game he wants another crack at. Posted by Matt Moore



Carlos Boozer has taken his new role as a leader of the Bulls by the horns. (What? Why are you looking at me like that? Is there some sort of pun in play? Hmm?) He's been vocal about setting high expectations for the team, has been a visible presence in his new city, and is putting himself forward as the new cornerstone of the franchise beside Derrick Rose. This weekend, he's the guest commissioner at Gatorade's Replay Series Season 3 event, which features two teams replaying a game which ended in a shroud of controversy, something Boozer's been no stranger to in his career and that he continues with his championship goal declarations in Chicago. CBSSports.com spoke with Boozer today about what stands in the way of that goal, going from small market Salt Lake City to big city Chicago, his time with Jerry Sloan, and the one game he wants back. 

Matt Moore: You got a lot of publicity for your comment about competing for a championship. What's going to be the biggest challenge in pursuit of that goal you're setting?

Carlos Boozer: That's what we play for, every NBA player. I'm very vocal about it. I want a ring, and my teammates want a ring. I think the biggest challenge will be coming together with our team chemistry. We also need to work to be a good, consistent defensive team. Also, continuing to see how we respond when we have a couple losses or if we're up and down. Can we fight back up and have that courage and confidence to keep going? In playoffs, we need to see how we fight back in a series. We'll learn a lot about our team, but the goal has to be a championship. That's what we all work for.

MM: Have you already noticed a huge change in going from a small market like Utah to Chicago?

CB: Oh, yeah, it's a lot different. I think I've been able to work my butt off and become a good player. The media coverage is a lot more intense than Salt Lake City. It's great, though, this is a great sports town, with the Blackhawks, the White Sox, the Cubs, the Bears, and obviously the Bulls. I'm looking forward to being a part of it. 

MM: What's the biggest thing you'll take away from your time with Coach Sloan?

CB: Everything. He was phenomenal for me. He called and I talked to him just last week. He was able to turn our team into a contender, even without Karl Malone and Stockton. He really managed the transition of that team to the current one. I think after the Malone era, they were looking for an identity, and we came in and turned that into a contender. He really helped bridge the gap between the Karl Malone era to the early 2000's and 2010's. It's a tribute to him and his coaching that his teams have that kind of consistent success. 

MM: Gatorade is allowing teams to go back and have another shot to replay their greatest wins and most bitter defeats. What game do you want back?

CB: The great thing about this is, Gatorade's been able to give guys games we want to replay. For me, the game against Indiana, when I was a junior in college, what turned out to be my last game at Duke. In Rupp Arena, we were in the Sweet 16 against Indiana. There was a kid had seven 3s in second half, named Tom Coverdale. We were down by 4 at the end, and my teammate Jay Williams hit a three, and got fouled. I grabbed the rebound, went up between two Hoosiers, both of which were grabbing my arms. I thought I got fouled, there was no call, I missed the shot and we lost the game. I wish I could have that one back. There are a lot of games that stand out. This gives them a chance to replay it, especially the two teams playing on Friday. There was a tip at the buzzer, and one feels it was before the buzzer and the other after.

These guys have been training for 8 weeks. They've met with nutrition specialists, and have been going to the Gatorade Sport Science Institute . I'm an honorary commissioner for the game, and I'm looking forward to it. It's fun to be a part of it.

MM: You've got Noah down low, Rose has been working on his three-point shot, and you added Kyle who you've played with. How do you like the balance on this team?

CB: We've got a lot of balance, a lot of depth. I think up front, I think Joakim and I have a chance of being a more dynamic frontcourt, along with Kurt Thomas. In the backcourt, Derrick Rose is one of the more dynamic scorers in the league. We've got Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver, who you mentioned for defense and shooting. I think we'll be better than what a lot of people think. We have Luol Deng on the wing, which is great to have. But we have to go earn our respect. With the talent that we have, and the hunger we have, I think we're ready to really push for a championship.

Thanks to Carlos for his time and Gatorade for its assistance with this interview.


Posted on: September 2, 2010 10:46 am
Edited on: September 2, 2010 10:48 am
 

Boozer thinks Bulls are championship caliber

Bulls new forward thinks they can compete for a championship, this season.
Posted by Matt Moore


The NBA is extremely elitist in terms of contenders for its championship. Versus the NFL, where 20 fanbases or so are going into next Thursday night's opener thinking if everything goes right for them, their team can bring back the Lombardi, and fifteen of those are actually being reasonable, in the NBA that list is about four teams.

The Lakers, obviously.

The Celtics, naturally.

The Heat, you'd have to say.

And if you're feeling generous, the Magic. They did make the Finals two years ago after all.

But is there a fifth team? Is there another team that could challenge the mountain, overcome it, and achieve what Ninja Warrior describes as "total victory?" What about the Bulls?

Carlos Boozer is here to tell you they are right in the mix for the NBA championship. When asked about the Bulls' goals for the upcoming season, Boozer told ESPN Chicago:


"A championship," he told ESPNChicago.com on Wednesday night after a Nike House of Hoops event. "I think a realistic goal for us is a championship. I think anything shorter than that we're setting ourselves up to be shorter than what we can reach. I think [we have] potential to be a championship-level team."

Well, then, Carlos. Don't hold yourself back. Really put yourself out there. There's no question that the Bulls have improved significantly from the team that was one-and-done'd by the Cavs and Celtics the past two seasons. But to be a championship contender in the East among all the powerhouses that now exist? Most striking is that essentially Boozer's attributing the team that the Bulls had last year, plus himself, along with Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer, to be the difference in the 8th seed and a championship.

If Boozer's going to have that kind of impact, it's probably important to compare this team to the Utah Jazz team that Boozer's been playing for when uninjured for the past few seasons. The Jazz have been a great team, well coached, disciplined, versatile, and effective. They even made the Western Conference Finals in 2007. Of course, that was primarily on account of them landing Golden State in the second round following one of the most shocking upsets in NBA history. How does this Bulls team stack up with the Utah team that's been plugging away (and getting swept out to the sea by LA) the last few years?

Derrick Rose is a phenomenal talent on the rise, one of the best point guards already. In Team USA play, he's shown off an improved jumper to go along with his superb quickness and touch. But is he better than Deron Williams? Hard to argue at this point. Rose's ceiling is certainly equal with, or possibly superior to Williams, but Williams is considered by many to be the best point guard in the NBA (with apologies to co-owner of that title, Chris Paul). Williams' defense is phenomenal, using his size and reach to harass opponents, and his all-around offensive game is nearly unstoppable when he's healthy.

Joakim Noah is probably the biggest upgrade for the Bulls over Boozer's Jazz. Versus Mehmet Okur, who is primarily a perimeter shooter, Noah is a workhorse down low, plowing whatever needs plowing on both sides of the ball. He's emerged as a top center in the league, though he's far from the top of the class just yet. Luol Deng may be an improvement over Andre Kirileko, depending on what you're looking for, but Deng's inconsistency is just as maddening as Kirilenko's injury problems. And new additions Brewer and Korver were members of that same Jazz team. Hard to argue they're significant upgrades now.

Which brings us to Boozer. The resume is certainly there on paper. 19.5 ppg, 11.2 rbg, 56% from the floor, PER of 21.3, which is up there with Brandon Roy and Steve Nash. His playoff stats are even higher. So why is it then that he's never been considered among the elite in the NBA? There are those that say that his stats can often be empty, and that he is unable to make the same impact on the game as his peers in that regard. But the numbers don't lie. However, there is something about Boozer that seems to indicate there's a piece missing. That's partially why he was brought into Chicago to be the secondary option behind Rose. It's simply hard to see how this cast of characters will dramatically alter things in a top-heavy East just because of his acquisition.

Of course, this is all based around individual assessments. For a more accurate picture, we need to look at the system as a whole. And that leads us to a more promising look. Boozer provides Rose with a capable pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop partner, as well as a low-post scorer he can turn to. While Boozer's interior defense is nothing to write home about (he allowed a 46% FG% in the post last season), Noah can help with that due to his size. His passing ability should help the offense funnel the ball to its new shooter, Kyle Korver, and his leadership should not be discounted. The Bulls as a team look incredibly strong.

But are they a championship team? With the Celtics, Magic, and Heat all in their conference, meaning they'll have to get through at least two of them most likely in the playoffs, the Bulls have to measure themselves against those teams. And while it's certainly reasonable to be excited about this season, the firepower of those other teams has to lead you to believe Boozer may want to scale it back a bit. Only way up is through, though, I suppose.


 
 
 
 
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