All Bull - Chicago Bulls
The second round of the NBA playoffs begins tonight – without the Bulls, obviously.
The first game to tip off is Washington at Indiana. Based on the teams’ performance in the first round, this looks like a great opportunity for the Wizards to reach the conference finals.
As the Bulls know very well, John Wall and Bradley Beal are the NBA’s best young backcourt. Maybe they’re due for a slump after playing so well in Round 1, but it seems as though both players are rising to the occasion of their first trip to the playoffs. They should be able to outplay Indiana’s George Hill and Lance Stephenson.
Before Sunday’s Game 4 in Washington, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau had some strong thoughts about Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s widely-publicized comments.
One of Thibodeau’s closest allies in the profession is Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, who employed Thibodeau in Boston from 2008-10.
The Bulls have scheduled a news conference for 4 p.m. on Monday. All signs point to Joakim Noah getting the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Once the Pacers and center Roy Hibbert went into a late-season tailspin, it was clear Noah would win this award with ease and it obviously didn't take long for the league office to count the ballots. Noah will be handed the trophy before Tuesday's Game 2 vs. Washington at the United Center.
Noah will be the second Bulls player to win the award, following Michael Jordan in 1987-88.
Only two of the eight first-round NBA playoff matchups are settled heading into the final night of the regular season. But the league did announce some of the starting times for Game 1.
The Bulls will host either Brooklyn or Washington on Sunday at 6 p.m., on TNT and Comcast Sports Net.
The full Sunday lineup is at San Antonio at noon (TNT), at Miami at 2:30 (ABC), with Portland at Houston the nightcap at 8:30 (TNT).
The Saturday lineup will include Atlanta at Indiana; along with games at Toronto, Oklahoma City and the L.A. Clippers.
More details will be available later tonight.
Brooklyn had a chance to clinch the No. 5 seed on Tuesday at home against New York, but missed badly. Despite starting most of their regulars, the Nets lost 109-98 in a game that wasn’t very close in the second half.
The Bulls’ first-round playoff opponent remains in doubt heading into Wednesday’s final night of the regular season, but a scenario where the Bulls are No. 4 and Washington moves up to No. 5 has become more realistic.
If Brooklyn loses on Wednesday at Cleveland and the Wizards win at Boston, then Washington
will be No. 5, while the Nets drop to No. 6. There’s a good chance Brooklyn rests many of its regulars against the Cavs and coach Jason Kidd didn’t place much importance on the outcome when speaking to reporters after Tuesday’s game.
This video of Joakim Noah learning about the snowfall after Monday's win over Orlando is getting a lot of play nationally. Some strange reporter comments put a little bit of a damper on the moment. I astutely kept my mouth shut while this was going on. Sometimes, you should just sit back and let things happen.
Interesting news out of Indiana, where coach Frank Vogel will try resting his players to solve the team's bewildering slump. All five Pacers starters are expected to sit during Wednesday's game at Milwaukee.
Does this mean Indiana is conceding the No. 1 seed in the East to Miami? Actually, no.
The Heat has a tough game on Wednesday at Memphis, while the Pacers could conceivably win without their starters in Milwaukee. It's the Bucks, after all.
Indiana's starters will be back on Friday at Miami. If the Pacers can somehow win that one, they'd win the season series 3-1 over the Heat.
Joakim Noah dished out 120 assists in the month of March. The Bulls played a ton of games in March (16 in 31 days), but that's still an impressive average of 7.5.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, that is the most assists by a center in a single month since Wilt Chamberlain had 155 in March, 1968. That was the year Wilt decided he'd done enough scoring in his career, so he led the league in assists with 8.6.
Among all players, Noah finished tied for 7th in assists during March. Here's the list:
1. Rajon Rondo, Bos 11.1
2. Chris Paul, LAC 10.3
3. John Wall, Was 9.0
4. Ty Lawson, Den 8.8
5. Ricky Rubio, Min 8.6
6. Kendall Marshall, LAL 7.9
7. Joakim Noah, Bulls 7.5
(tie) Kemba Walker, Cha 7.5
Fred Hoiberg and Kevin Ollie never made the playoffs with the Bulls. But on a night when those two former Bulls squared off as coaches in the NCAA Tournament, the current Bulls clinched a playoff spot.
The Bulls turned in a lackluster performance Friday and lost to Portland 91-74 at the United Center. But when New York lost at Phoenix later in the night, a playoff berth became official.
By the way, Ollie's Connecticut squad beat Hoiberg and Iowa State in the East regional semis. Some might say Hoiberg was at a disadvantage having lost one of his top scorers last week to a broken foot. I say he had more than enough to win with.
Since Stevenson guard Jalen Brunson is the son of former Bulls player and assistant coach Rick Brunson, this is an appropriate topic for All Bulls.
Brunson was spectacular in Friday's state semifinal loss to Whitney Young, scoring a state finals record 56 points, including 26 in the fourth quarter. The 6-4 junior guard hit 16 of 30 shots, 7 of 14 3-pointers and 17 of 23 free throws.
The Peoria Journal Star ran a photo from the game where Brunson appeared to be raising middle fingers to the crowd. Here is video of that moment late in the contest. Brunson swung his arms in frustration after a made 3-pointer was waved off due to a foul coming before the shot. Judge for yourself, but it didn't appear that he was gesturing at Whitney Young fans, as has been depicted by some.