In the end, it was pretty easy for the Chicago Bulls to wrap up their series in Game 6. While Atlanta fought hard, their shots just weren’t falling as the Bulls wrapped it up with a 93-73 victory, featuring their now-trademark tenacious D. (Terrible, terrible pun, true…but did JB and KG not form the world’s most awesome band as tribute to Marv Albert’s call of a 1994 Knicks game? Those matching arse-marks also helped).
The Hawks were always gonna be up against it after Jeff Teague went off the court with an injury, but they can hold their heads up high after these playoffs. No team gets more ridicule from the basketball media than they do, admittedly some for fair reasons (Joe Johnson’s contract, Josh Smith being Josh Smith, they seem to quit on their coach at least twice a game) but a lot of it is because they have the temerity to be a constant playoff team in the East who aren’t ever going to contend for a title.
Frankly, I don’t see what’s wrong with that. There’s an old truism in the NBA that you have to either be great or terrible – but even if you’re lousy, it takes a fair bit of luck to strike lottery gold. For every lottery team who gets a Kevin Durant or Blake Griffin, you get a situation like Minnesota who just can’t seem to ever be in a position to get a franchise changer. They don’t call it a lottery for nothing. That’s why I don’t think Atlanta needs to do anything this off-season.
The Bulls? They became a title contender far quicker than anyone anticipated. I don’t think they can beat the Heat in seven games, simply because they don’t have anyone who can really exploit Miami’s greatest weakness (no interior defense), given that Boozer is more of a touch guy. But if they go down it won’t be for a lack of trying.
Finish with today’s points.
3 Points – Carlos Boozer. Derrick Rose switched from Allen Iverson to Jason Kidd mode tonight, sacrificing some of his own offense for the good of the team. Boozer responded with his best game of the playoffs so far – 23 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.
Chicago needs more games like this from the Booze, who’s been pretty quiet and heavily pilloried for it so far these playoffs. As dangerous a scorer as Rose is, if he has to take 30 shots a game, every game, inevitably he’s gonna have a cold night here and there. The rest of the Bulls have to share the offensive load.
2 Points – Derrick Rose. As I mentioned earlier, today we saw Derrick Rose, Point Guard in action. Sure he got 19 points and 12 assists – but he wasn’t dominating the offense like he has most of this year.
One thing a lot of people don’t realise about Rose is that playing as a pass-first guard comes naturally to him. He’s not a Tyreke Evans/Russell Westbrook type who’s a ball stopper by default. In fact, I would say that Derrick Rose is the only point guard I’ve ever seen who can be both a scorer and a playmaker equally well. If his teammates can keep backing him up like they did today, we’ll see a lot more of this side of Rose which just makes him even more dangerous when defenses are collapsing on him.
1 Point – Omer Asik. Was very hard to give out this last point – I was tempted to give it to Josh Smith for a while – but Asik earned it with his defense off the bench. It’s hard to believe that this guy’s a rookie and a very raw one at that – he’s carved out a nice little niche for himself as a defensive/rebounding/garbage points big man on this Bulls team. If he can improve his offensive game, he could well become a starting NBA center in the future.
That’s all I got for today. Can’t wait for the Bulls/Heat ECF. That’s gonna be a battle royale.