All Bull - Chicago Bulls
Bulls were terrible at the start (17-5) and finish (14-2), but dominated the middle to win 79-76 and go up 2-1 in the series...
--The New York Post reported that Brooklyn guard Joe Johnson had a cortisone shot in his foot just before game time. He said otherwise, he wouldn't have been able to play due to plantar fasciitis.
--Tom Thibodeau gets heat for playing guys big minutes. Johnson played 41 minutes for the Nets on Thursday. He seemed to play his normal game -- 6-for-14, 15 points, 3 assists.
Now that every NBA playoff series has gone at least two games, home teams have a 14-2 record.
The only two road teams to win so far are the Bulls in Brooklyn, and Golden State, which won Game 2 at Denver.
Since first-round series were stretched from 5 games to 7 in 2003, home teams have done better in the playoffs just once. That happened in 2004, when the hosts went 15-1 in the first two games of the opening round. Ironically, the only home team to lose was Detroit (to Milwaukee), which went on to win the NBA title.
There was no other year when home teams went 14-2 to start the playoffs, but they went 13-3 five times. The worst showing was 11-5 in 2003 and '09.
The Bulls held shootaround Monday morning at John Jay College, a few blocks west of Columbus Circle and Central Park.
Nothing was new with Derrick Rose's situation, but it does look like the Bulls will be able to stick with the same starting lineup in Game 2, since Joakim Noah is feeling relatively well. Noah played 13 minutes in Saturday's Game 1 loss in Brooklyn.
“I think we’re a team of great character," Noah said. "Every time we get adversity, we respond pretty well. Tonight’s probably the biggest test of the year ... exciting."
Asked if Noah might play longer tonight, coach Tom Thibodeau answered with a simple, "We'll see what Fred says," referring to trainer Fred Tedeschi.
Thibodeau talked about what the Bulls need to do better, stressing the obvious.
Maybe we all counted out Joakim Noah too soon. After speaking to reporters Friday at the Berto Center, he seemed unlikely to play in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series against Brooklyn.
A day later, he felt better and told Tom Thibodeau he'd like to play, pending how he feels after pregame warmups.
“There will be some restrictions on him," Thibodeau said during his pregame news conference at the Barclays Center. "When he’s played the past couple games, he hasn’t had a problem playing nor after. It’s more the next day the soreness really comes into play, so that’s the big thing.
Checking the Brooklyn Nets on paper, the team pretty much does boil down to Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. The depth isn’t great and the 3-point shooting is average.
That’s too easy for Tom Thibodeau, figuring out a way to defend three players, right?
Well, if there’s one player on the roster that should concern the Bulls, I’d say it’s Andray Blatche.
It’s easy to write him off as one of the many former Washington knuckleheads, but he had his moments. Just two years ago, Blatche averaged 16.8 points per game for the Wizards.
He’s given the Bulls problems in the past, mostly because at 6-11, 260 pounds, he’s a handful in the post, especially for Joakim Noah, who is more of an athletic defender and can get pushed
With just two playoffs seeds still to be decided in the East, Atlanta controlled its own destiny. And the Hawks seem perfectly content to concede the No. 5 spot to the Bulls.
The Hawks were drilled at home by Toronto 113-96 on Tuesday. The Bulls can clinch the No. 5 seed and a first-round matchup with the Brooklyn Nets by beating Washington at the United Center on Wednesday.
The only way the Bulls won't get fifth is if they lose to the Wizards, while Atlanta wins at New York. The Bulls went 3-1 against Brooklyn this season. Game 1 will be either Saturday or Sunday.
By beating Orlando on Monday, the Bulls ensured their first-round playoff opponent will remain a mystery until Wednesday night.
The Bulls are a half-game behind Atlanta for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, but won the season series 2-1 and therefore own the tiebreaker against the Hawks.
Atlanta hosts Toronto on Tuesday night. As the Bulls discovered twice last week, the Raptors seem intent on finishing the season strong, so a Hawks win may not be a foregone conclusion.
An Atlanta loss to Toronto would put the Bulls in the driver's seat. They could claim the No. 5 spot by beating Washington, regardless of what the Hawks do in their final game at New York on Wednesday.
One sidebar to Sunday’s loss in Miami is this question: When LeBron talks, does the league listen?
After James squawked about hard fouls by the Bulls in the March 27 game at the United Center, one common foul by Taj Gibson was changed to a flagrant by the league office. Then in Sunday’s rematch, the Heat attempted 42 free throws -- a season-high for both Miami and a Bulls’ opponent.
After the game, Nate Robinson was asked if he thought James’ complaints made a difference.
“I have no idea,” Robinson said, according to espn.com. “If he has that much power, more power to him.
Kobe Bryant suffered a probable torn Achilles tendon late Friday night at the end of a win against Golden State.
The Lakers are battling Utah for the final playoff spot in the West, but whether they get in or not, Bryant won't be on the floor. He's expected to have an MRI exam Saturday to confirm the initial diagnosis, but already started contemplating retirement on his Facebook page.
Bryant will turn 35 in August and has 1,450 games under his belt, including playoffs, in 17 NBA seasons. This will be a tough injury to come back from. Isiah Thomas' playing career ended with a torn Achilles.
Thursday’s Bulls-Knicks game featured a pretty good chess match between coaches Tom Thibodeau and Mike Woodson.
For starters, New York left all of its big men at home and used a lineup of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Copeland, Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. The opening tip featured the 6-8 Copeland against 6-7 Jimmy Butler.
It gave me flashbacks of the one-time-only, 2002-ish Jalen Rose Charity Game at the UC when the guys made Jamal Crawford jump center against Jay Williams. Crawford, apparently paralyzed by a fear of losing while trying, didn’t jump.