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Tag:Darren Collison
Posted on: February 7, 2012 11:25 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 11:32 pm
 

Report Card: Pacers survive, Pierce passes Bird

Paul Pierce took over No.2 on the Celtics' all-time scoring list and the Celtics improved to 14-10. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore


Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was. We want to hear your grades of the night on Twitter at @EyeOnBasketball.


Paul Pierce On a night where Pierce passed Larry Bird on the Celtics' all-time scoring list, the Truth was doing everything for the surging Celtics. His shooting percentage was nothing great, but 8 rebounds and 9 assists with just two turnovers to go with 15 points is excellent work. Pierce took a step up the Green's list of point producers, but it's his overall play that makes him a Celtic legend. Tuesday night showed why.
Indiana Pacers Played like warrior gods for about 34 minutes. Then utterly collapsed against the power of Paul Millsap while Frank Vogel hung out his second unit to dry. Then managed to slam the door shut thanks to what got them the lead in the first place. When the Pacers are clicking, they can be dominant, but this team is built with too many hustle defenders on the bench and not enough scoring. George Hill's absence hurts, but it goes beyond that. They might consider getting a backup scorer at the deadline. At the same time, a quality win against a good team.
Minnesota Timberwolves The Kings are more game to fight under Keith Smart, but this still should have been a more comfortable win at home. Then again, they didn't have Kevin Love. So basically, they pass, but next time maybe a little better shooting than 41 percent against a horrid defense is in order. 14 assists for Rubio in the win.
Kings final possession All you have are perimeter scorers. All you have are ISO guys. You don't pass well. I'm one of the guys who rails against the ISO-Final-Possession culture in the NBA, but in that situation, down two, give the ball to Thornton or Evans and let them do work out of Isolation. Instead the Kings tried to get inventive and cute. Not a good look. Honestly, DeMarcus Cousins should not be on the floor at the end of the game for the Kings right now. 22 for Thornton in the loss.
Tyrus Thomas 20 minutes. 1-6, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 foul, -12 for the game and got into it with Paul Pierce on the night he passed Bird on the Celtics' scoring list. Remember when he was going to be a difference maker?
E FOR EFFORT
LeBron James (24 points on 16 shots, 5 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals, excellent passing to close out the Cavs.)
Derrick Brown (10-10 from the field, 20 points, 4 rebounds)
Darren Collison (10-14 from the field, 25 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 turnovers)

Posted on: December 8, 2011 11:44 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 6:13 pm
 

Chris Paul Rumor Tracker 12.8.11: Paul to Lakers?



By EOB staff

So there's kind of a lot going on right now in terms of Chris Paul. It's extremely likely that he'll still be a Hornet when camp starts Friday, and very likely that he'll still be one when the season starts on December 25th. But there has been such a deafening cacophony of intelligence (or absence thereof, depending on your view of the media) regarding who is in the Hunt for Paul, that we need to keep an eye on things.

Yahoo Sports reports Chris Paul to the Lakers

Ken Berger confirms a Yahoo Sports report that the Hornets have begun informing teams they are sending Chris Paul to the Lakers for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in a straight-up deal. 
More on this as it develops. 

Hornets still exploring Celtics offer, might go without third team

Yahoo Sports reports that the Hornets are starting to get past the idea of needing to bring in Indiana for a three-way deal with Boston and are instead exploring the idea of going straight up and taking the Celtics' offer of Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green via sign-and-trade, and the Clippers first-rounder. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that a possible hang-up would be Jeff Green having to agree to the deal, which he may not if he's going to what would certainly seem to be a lottery team. It would be a great deal for the Celtics. For the Hornets, everything would come down to how that Clippers pick worked out, but at least they get two young above-average players and a quality pick, which is more than they would pull from the Lakers or in the three-way with Houston.

Speaking of, David Aldridge of TNT/NBA.com reports more details. The Rockets would send Martin and Scola (as outlined below), along with Goran Dragic and multiple first and second round picks. That's quite a haul. But considering the age of the two bigger names in the deal (31 and 28 for Scola and Martin respectively), the question is if the Hornets want to stay in the playoff race right now to ensure ticket sales and to stay competitive, or go young. The Hornets are still looking for the perfect deal, or at least the best one, and as of yet, that deal has not come available. 

Lakers looking at a three-way deal with Houston to bring CP3 to L.A.?

2:19 p.m. -- Could the Lakers and Celtics be going head-to-head for Chris Paul now? Accoding to SI.com, the Lakers, Hornets and Rockets are engaged in a three-way deal that would send Paul to Los Angeles.

We've heard this story before, but getting a third team involved is interesting. And what do the Rockets have to gain by jumping in? The Lakers have the pieces needed, I'd think, to pull off a trade with New Orleans. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom -- those are serious pieces. But Houston could ramp it up with extra picks and assets which could make this a very real scenario.

According to Yahoo! Sports
and confirmed by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, some of the names being floated in this deal are Paul to L.A., Pau Gasol to Houston and Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and picks to New Orleans. That right there, is a blockbuster deal.

And if the Lakers were to manage this, they could conceivably put together a deal using Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom to acquire Dwight Howard. It really is possible. Scary thoughts right there. -- Royce Young

Celtics back in the mix for CP3?

11:33 a.m. -- The Celtics are back in the action. Yahoo! Sports reports that with the Clippers and Warriors both unwilling to give up players who are not as good as Chris Paul (Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon) to get Chris Paul due to fear he will depart in free agency, the Celtics have re-emerged as a viable candidate despite Paul's reluctance to be traded there or sign long-term. It should be noted that the current reticence by both Golden State and Los Angeles completely overlooks the fact that under the new CBA, there is literally no financial incentive for Paul to sign an extension versus entering free agency and re-signing with their team once they prove they can win. And if they don't win, then the experiment is a failure and it's time to start over anyway. Considering both franchises won a combined 68 games last year, it's a bit odd. But the fear of a true rebuild is too devastating for them. Now on to the Celtics.

The Celtics situation goes something like this. Being Boston, they don't have the same fears as most franchises do in regards to players abandoning them. If they can win the title, then have the cap space in 2012 to make a run at Dwight Howard, that might be what it takes to sway Paul's mind and convince him to stay, so the risk would be worth the reward in trading for him without an extension or assurances he'll re-sign. Yahoo! reports a deal being offered involves a three-way-swap with Indiana, in which the Pacers get Rajon Rondo who the Hornets aren't gaga over, and the Hornets get Darren Collison, who they traded in 2010 to Indiana, back, along with Tyler Hansbrough, Brandon Rush, and draft picks. The Hornets want Danny Granger, but there's no indication if Indiana is open to that deal, despite Granger having been on the block for years. That's an awful lot for the Pacers to give up just to get Rajon Rondo, despite Rondo being one of the best point guards in the league. In short, he's not Chris Paul. 

Meanwhile, a small note in the Yahoo! report says Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul have spoken by phone this week as the Lakers continue to try and land the ultimate coup of both Paul and Dwight Howard as well. So the heavy hitters are very much in the room on this.

The Boston Herald reports that a source close to Paul says the Celtics' window is too short, having only one year of contention. But if the Celtics were to immediately land Dwight Howard in free agency, that might convince Paul to re-sign, especially with the lure of the extra year available to the Celtics under the new CBA. Other teams would only be able to offer a four-year deal, vs. Boston's five. That might add even more incentive for the Lakers to pull of a trade for Howard, since it would block Boston from being able to put the two together, as well as, you know, giving the Lakers the best center in the league. 

ESPN.com reports that the Lakers are offering Pau Gasol as the centerpiece of any deal, while wanting to keep their best asset, Andrew Bynum, as a trade chip to attempt to acquire Howard. Gasol is 31 with three years and $57 million left on his deal, so it's hard to see the Hornets opting to take in Gasol, which would leave the Lakers trying to pull in a third team to make a deal with. 

Finally, the Knicks are reportedly seeking a third and/or fourth team to try and trade for Paul but aren't having much luck. Isiah Thomas' involvement in the Melo saga last year is the gift that keeps on giving. 

We've joked about it before, we'll joke about it again. Like the owers said, this new CBA that cost the league 16 games will help improve competitive balance... for the top five teams in the league on both coasts.  -- Matt Moore
Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:30 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 2:54 pm
 

Pacers exploring trade and free agency

By Matt Moore 

The Indiana Pacers are coming off of fascinating season. They started off hot as fire, then cratered a bit. Jim O'Brien was fired, and then interim coach Frank Vogel took them to the playoffs, where they had as competitive a five-game series against the Bulls as a five-game series can be. So they're looking to upgrade the team and make a run, right now. They brought in George Hill through trade, and now are looking for more additions. 

The Indianapolis Star mentons a pretty intriguing option through trade: Paul Millsap
The Pacers talked to the Utah Jazz about forward Paul Milsap prior to the draft. Expect them to make a phone call to the Jazz again. The 26-year-old Milsap, a Pacer killer in the past, averaged a career-high 17 points last season.
via Mike Wells: A look at players the Pacers might pursue | The Indianapolis Star | indystar.com.

Millsap would make for the power forward the Pacers are looking for in free agency through David West or Nene. If they were to trade Roy Hibbert as part of the package, thiy could sign Nene, then add Millsap making one of the better front courts in the Eastern Conference, along with Danny Granger. The Pacers are clearly looking to enter the conference race right now, instead of waiting to see their young pieces develop. 

The question is, what's the objective? Can the Pacers win a title with Danny Granger as their best player? They've put together an interesting, fast, young team that can defend at one end, hit from the perimeter, and get out in transition. But do they have a team that could get hot and go on an unpredictable run to the title? OK, it wouldn't be unpredictable if we could answer that. But the point is that the Pacers are loading up for what is likely a team whose ceiling is the second round. 

Have to try something, I guess. The Pacers surprised people last season. If they spend wisely, and that's a big if, they could do the same this year with heightened expectations.
Posted on: July 9, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 1:39 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Central Division

A look at what is at stake for the NBA's Central Division if a whole season was lost due to the lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.

derrick-rose-dunk

Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise.

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Southeast Division and the Atlantic Division. Let's continue this series with the Central Division.  

CHICAGO Bulls


The Bulls won the Central by a preposterous margin in 2010-2011, stacking up a league-high 62 wins and burying their division mates by a ridiculous 25 games, by far the biggest margin of any division winner. Nothing has happened yet this offseason which suggests next year's results will be any different. Even if the Milwaukee Bucks return to full health or the Indiana Pacers make a key free agent addition or the Detroit Pistons finally emerge from their slog or the Cleveland Cavaliers successfully start the Kyrie Irving era, the only thing stopping the Bulls from running away from the competition again is an injury to Derrick Rose. The Bulls are, by far, the most talented and deepest team in the division. They have the reigning MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year. They're poised to be championship title contenders for the next five years.

With so much going for them, the Bulls clearly have the most to lose in a lockout. If a season is lost, that's a title chase that evaporates. Perhaps most important, the Bulls would lose that visceral desire for redemption that comes with the ugly end to their season. It was a disappointing, frustrating loss to their new archrivals, the Miami Heat, in the Eastern Conference Finals. The pain of that loss subsides with time. It's ability to serve as unifying inspiration will fade too. The Bulls want revenge and they want rings. The pieces are in place. Besides aging teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, who face the possibility of their championship window closing, the Bulls don't want to sit around and wait. They created some amazing chemistry last season, built strong trust bonds. Losing a season risks all of that.

INDIANA PACERS

The upstart Pacers are up to something: they finally committed to Frank Vogel as their coach, they brought on former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard to serve as Director of Player Personnel, they made a solid draft day trade to acquire point guard George Hill and they sit on a mound of cap space ready to make a splash in free agency. The Pacers risk two things if a season is lost. First, a critical development year to see how their young pieces are able to gel together. Second, A feeling of certainty in terms of team expectations.

Indiana has assembled some nice, young talent: Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison, Paul George, Tyler Hansbrough and Hill are all 25 or younger. Depending on how they use their cap space and whether they decide to move Danny Granger, that has all the makings of a promising core that could reliably make playoff runs for the foreseeable future. But the group needs time to spend together, reps to get things right and an evaluation period to see whether all four belong long-term. They look great on paper but more data -- playing together -- is needed. A lost season risks that and potentially stalls the development of those younger guys.

The real risk is free agency. Indiana has just $36 million committed in salary next season, meaning they have one of the smallest payrolls in the league. They also have an expiring contract in James Posey to move and potentially could move Granter if they were looking to make a major splash. Their combination of flexibility and talent on-hand is near the tops in the league when it comes to rebuilding teams. A delayed season pushes that promise back and while teams with space are definitely sitting in a better position than teams without space, it's unclear what additional rules might be in place that inhibit free agent movement. If you're the Pacers you'd prefer to be able to chase a guy like David West now without any messy collective bargaining negotiations getting in the way. Put simply, the Pacers are a team on the rise, but a lot has to go right for young teams to reach their potential. Even minor things can throw a team off course. The less variables, the better. Unfortunately, the CBA is a major, major variable.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

lockoutThis team is just confusing. The Stephen Jackson trade made a bit of sense, given that the Bucks needed a serviceable alternative to Brandon Jennings at point guard and got one in Beno Udrih, but this group isn't going anywhere meaningful, not even if Jennings and center Andrew Bogut are fully healthy. 

About the only thing lost in a lockout for the Bucks is another year for Jennings to bloom. His sophomore years was sidetracked by injuries and poor outside shooting, and he questioned his teammates' desire to win at the end of the regular season. Other than Jennings, Larry Sanders and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute could use more developmental minutes but the rest of the roster is essentially veterans who have reached their potential. 

From a cynical standpoint, Bucks ownership could be cheering a lost season because it would mean cash savings on ugly deals for Jackson and big man Drew Gooden. Is it worth saving the combined $15 million that will go to Jackson and Gooden in 2011-2012 to lose a year of floor leadership training for Jennings? 

DETROIT PISTONS

The Pistons are another confounding mess, but at least it feels like they've turned a corner thanks to the sale of the team, the departure of reviled coach John Kuester and the drafting of point guard Brandon Knight and wing Kyle Singler. Last year was one, long, ugly grind. 2011-2012 figures to be a step in the right direction.

Knight slipped out of the top five of the 2011 NBA Draft because of questions about his position. Is he a pure point guard? Can he run an NBA offense? Will he be able to execute something besides the pick-and-roll game? His future is incredibly bright but as a one-and-done player he absolutely needs as much playing time as possible to get a feel for the NBA style and to get comfortable with the ball in his hands and a team of professionals that look to him first. There's no other way to learn the point guard position than by on-the-job training, and recent success stories like Rose and Russell Westbrook only reinforce that idea. A year away from the game at this stage would be a critical loss for Knight and the Pistons, and that's a major risk.

The same is true, to a lesser degree, for big man Greg Monroe, who came on strong in the second half of his rookie season and appears to be a potential core piece going forward. 2011-2012 is all about letting Knight and Monroe build up a chemistry together 

A lost season would certainly be welcomed by ownership here too because Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva all failed to live up to their big-dollar contract figures last season. Hamilton and Villanueva, in particular, seem like lost causes. Weighing the savings from these deals versus the lost development of Knight, the Pistons should probably be pretty close to indifferent when it comes to losing a season. They need work, they know they need work and the rebuild can only come as these big contracts get closer to their conclusion and become more tradeable. Still, it would seem to be better to continue that journey with Knight getting more familiar and comfortable day-by-day, month-by-month than it would having him workout solo in a gym somewhere. If you've committed to a rebuild, start it immediately.
 
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Last but not least, we have the Cavaliers, the NBA's second-worst team from last season, who endured an embarrasing 26 game losing streak to set an NBA record for consecutive futility. There's significant light at the end of the tunnel for the Cavaliers, as they have an owner committed to spending money to win, the 2011 NBA Draft's No. 1 overall pick, Kyrie Irving, and Tristan Thompson, who was taken No. 4 overall. 

Cleveland is in much the same position as the Pistons: the biggest risk from losing a season is the lost reps that Irving won't get running the show. There are always some bumps and bruises for a young point guard transitioning from college to the NBA, and the potential for struggles is even more pronounced in Irving's case because he missed much of last season, his freshman year at Duke University, with a foot injury. Time away from the game is not good. The shorter, the better. Irving was clearly the most NBA-ready point guard in this year's draft crop and the Cavaliers would be smart to turn the keys over to him from Day 1, even with veterans Baron Davis, Daniel Gibson and Ramon Sessions on the roster as well. 

That raises a secondary risk of the lockout season for the Cavaliers: losing positional clarity. Cleveland clearly needs to move one, if not two, of their point guards to clear the deck for Irving and surround him with some solid complementary pieces. A lost season just delays that process. Saving the money from Davis' contract is tempting, but it's a non-factor for owner Dan Gilbert who would just as soon pay that tax to watch his young team start the rebuild. Along those same lines, an entire season lost could mean the Cavaliers aren't able to move Antawn Jamison's $15 million expiring contract, a nice trade asset that could potentially bring a rotation player in return.

Posted on: April 26, 2011 11:08 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 12:09 am
 

Series in Review: Bulls-Pacers

Posted by Royce Young

The Bulls finally put away the pesky Indiana Pacers, 116-89, taking the series in five games. For once the Bulls looked like the dominant team they are, and handled the Pacers in virtually every way. Let's review:

Series MVP: Derrick Rose


No doubt about it. With his team needing him, he stepped up in a big way, on a sprained ankle, in Game 5 to drop 25 points in 30 minutes. That total included a barrage of 3s in the third to essentially sink the Pacers. He wasn't his usual, terrific self, shooting just 35 percent from the floor. And he took too many 3s (over seven a game). But Rose was deffinitely the difference in this series. The fact the Bulls got out in five despite poor contributions from the supporting cast is pretty impressive.

Best Play: Rose's block and layup

What an incredible flurry from Rose in Game 1. He had ESPN color man Jon Barry giggling manically throughout, and with good reason.



Best Moment: Korver's Game 1 3-point to seal it

Korver hit a number of big shots in this series, but his 3 in the final minute of Game 1 to give the Bulls the lead was just special. It was one of those playoff moments that Bulls' fans will remember for a long while. Rose had taken over, but in that big spot he made the right play and found his shooter open for 3. And Korver did his job.

Worst Moment: Josh McRoberts


McRoberts got away with an unprovoked elbow at Derrick Rose's head in Game 4, but the way he went after Joakim Noah in Game 5 was just ridiculous. It's one thing to take a shot at a guy, but to go for it a second time when he's backing away is pretty stupid. His last moment from the 2010-11 season wasn't a good one.



Worst Moment Runner-up: The attack of hippie camera dude

It has to be mentioned that Darren Collison was forced to miss the entire second half of Game 2 because he stepped on the foot of a cameraman on the baseline. What a shame that happened and potentially altered the outcome of that game.

Most Disappointing Player: Carlos Boozer


It's pretty bad when you could say the Bulls would've won this series with or without Boozer. He was that much of a non-factor. He had 17 points and 16 rebounds in Game 2, but even that was a bit of an aberration (he had 13 in the first half). Averaging just 12.0 points per game on 37 percent shooting isn't good enough for Boozer, especially if the Bulls want to challenge for a championship.

Most Surprising Moment: Kyle Korver made a layup

In Game 5. I swear, I saw it.

Making a Name: Paul George


The Pacer rookie got the assignment of guarding Rose down the stretch in each game, and he did pretty well. George has a little way to go offensively, but in terms of being an elite wing defender, he has potential. Frank Vogel spoke of George having some 17 deflections in Game 1, which is pretty impressive. A good wing defender is almost as valuable as a good wing scorer, and George may be that guy in the future for Indiana.

Theme of the Series: Missed opportunities

The Pacers had the chance to be up 1-0. Then they had a chance to even it at 1-1. Then they had a chance to cut it to 2-1. Of course, in the crunch, Indiana just couldn't execute. The Bulls were the better team easily, but the Pacers can certainly look back and think a bit on the "What if's" from this series.
Posted on: April 26, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 11:25 pm
 

Grading the series: Bulls top Pacers in 5

Posted by Royce Young



CHICAGO Bulls

Derrick Rose: It was a bit of an up and down series for Rose. If you just gloss over the boxscore numbers, it looks like he did pretty well (28.3 points and 6.3 assists per game). But spanning Games 3 and 4, Rose really struggled shooting the ball (35 percent for the series). A bit too often, he settled for the 3 (over seven a game), and didn't really command the game the way you'd hope a future MVP would.

That said, he was pretty excellent in Game 5 and, overall, played a good series. He's the reason the Bulls got away from the Pacers in just five games. He battled through an ankle sprain to play his best game of the series. That said a lot about his toughness, and, behind him, his team finally turned in a solid, complete game of basketball. High marks overall for Rose.

Grade: B+


Tom Thibodeau: I think, quietly, Thibodeau managed this series extremely well. It was subtle because he didn't deviate much from the regular season plan, but one move I especially took note of was his decision to stick with Kurt Thomas in Game 1 down the stretch, instead of going to Carlos Boozer. That added toughness and grit from Thomas ended up landing the Bulls a big offensive rebound to seal the game. Thibodeau didn't push every correct button, but he stayed consistent to the gameplan that worked to win Chicago 62 games this season.

And in his first playoff series, he got out in five games. Not bad.

Grade: A-

The supporting cast: If you're looking for a word, it's inconsistent. Luol Deng was solid, averaging 17.3 ppg in the series. Joakim Noah was his usual self. Kyle Korver hit some big shots. But overall, Chicago's role players didn't step up consistently the way they did during the regular season. Taj Gibson was great in Game 5, but that was really the ony game he had an impact. Ronnie Brewer was a non-factor all five games, and Carlos Boozer was pretty much a disappointment.

Going forward, they need to be better. And I'm sure they know it.

Grade: C

Overall grade: There was definitely a good push by the Bulls in Game 5 to raise this mark. They played easily their best game, making shots, rebounding, playing defense and playing together. But, other than that, the other four games were a complete struggle versus the weakest team in the playoff field. I've gone over it ad nauseum, but Chicago was just a couple minutes away from losing an extra game, or two.

Alas, they won in five. A sweep would've been ideal, but it was clear early on that this Pacer team was ready to fight. And they did. Winning is the important part in the postseason, and the East's top seed is advancing unscathed.

Grade: B

INDIANA PACERS

Danny Granger: Indiana's star was pretty good overall. He hit some big shots, made some big plays and was probably the biggest reason the Pacers stole a game. But he's also a reason they didn't steal at least one more.

Granger's disappearance in crunch time in Games 1 and 2 ultimately doomed their chances of coming out of Chicago with a big win to start the series. That's partially his fault and partially a product of the stellar Bulls defense. He could've been better, but, keep in mind, he did have Luol Deng on him for five games.

Grade: B

Frank Vogel: Indiana's interim coach earned a job next season in my mind. He had his guys convinced they could win. He talked them up. He had them believing, which is the first job of an underdog coach. The Pacers never wavered and, really, Indiana's gameplan was rock solid throughout.

A few of his rotations were a bit curious and the fact the Pacers seemed to run away from Roy Hibbert was odd. But in Vogel's maiden voyage into the postseason, without even the actual head coaching position, he should win himself a new title for next season.

Grade: A

Homecourt advantage: Down 3-0, I realize some of the excitement and air is let out of your balloon. But to let the enemy fill up half your arena? That's pretty ridiculous. The Pacer fans that were there were loud and did their part, but the ones that sold off to Bulls' fans? Shame.

Grade: D+

Overall grade: The Pacers were in that great position of not having much expected of them. Winning even a game was seen as a big victory for them. Still, being so close to actually making this a series has to be a bit disappointing. Yes, they were completely overmatched by a more talented team. But a rebound here, a few more free throws or a good stop there and this Game 5 isn't ending their season.

A great effort from them though. You can't fault that. They played the NBA's best regular season team tooth and nail for four games before running out of gas. It was admirable.

Grade: A-
Posted on: April 26, 2011 2:24 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 2:24 pm
 

Vogel: Win tonight, win the series

Posted by Royce Young



No team has ever come back from three games to zero in NBA history. There's two sides of thought that sort of stat. That means a series is over if you get yourself in a 3-0 hole or that just means NBA history is waiting to be made.

Evidently, Pacer interim coach Frank Vogel is of the latter category.

He said today, "We feel like if we win this game tonight, we’ll win the series.”

Vogel is nothing if not bold, energetic and full of optimism. That's who he is and one of the reasons he's helped pull this Pacer team together and not only get to the postseason, but make a pretty good showing against the top-seeded Bulls.

It's not like he guaranteed victory or anything. He just expressed some confidence in his group. All of us on the outside pretty much know this series is over, but the Pacers still have at least one game to play. Don't try and tell them not to show up to the United Center tonight. They have a game and they intend to win.

I remember when the 2004 Red Sox pulled off their infamous comeback over the Yankees, first baseman Kevin Millar was walking around before Game 4 saying, "They better not let us win this game. They better not." It's all about mindset. And Millar and his group of "idiots" convinced themselves that if they could just get one, they could get three more.

And this shot of confidence from Vogel is of that same line of thinking. He's telling his guys, you win this one, you can win again. And again. Because let's face it: It's not like the Bulls have completely outclassed the Pacers. Really, Chicago is fairly lucky to even be where its at. If the Pacers were to pull off another stunner tonight, they'd be taking the series to a Game 6 at home with a chance to force a Game 7.

Plus they'd have momentum and added pressure placed on the Bulls. He knows what he's doing here. He's a motivator. He's trying to comvince his guys to believe this isn't over. Win just one more for me and we can do this! It sounds pretty stupid because again, history says it's not happening but at some point the NBA will find its 2004 Red Sox. Vogel is asking his guys to write some history with him. He's asking, "Why not us?"

Here's why not: Because the Bulls have Derrick Rose and Indiana doesn't. It's fun to talk about though, right?
Posted on: April 26, 2011 2:19 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 2:24 pm
 

Pippen thinks Boozer is wasting fouls

Bulls Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen is not amused by Carlos Boozer's lack of hard fouls in the playoffs. 
Posted by Matt Moore



(image courtesy of Getty Images, EOB illustration )

Bulls fans are discovering the same thing Jazz fans have been saying for years. Yeah, Carlos Boozer is a great post player offensively with nice touch. But his defense is bad. Not "problematic" or "below-excellent." It's bad. He gets taken off the dribble, backed down in the post, worked over, inside and out, doesn't rotate well and has trouble closing. That's just who he is. The whole season he's been available, Tom Thibodeau has done a tremendous job covering for him with his system, to the point where it's unlikely to be the deciding factor in if the Bulls win the championship. But in a series that turned out to be much closer than expected, with the Bulls up 3-1 but still not able to come away with a convincing win against the Pacers, there are some questions about the Bulls' defense, and how tough if its. Especially when you start asking questions about why the Pacers are hammering Derrick Rose with hard fouls every time he enters the lane and Darren Collison skates through. And those questions aren't just coming from fans. 

They're coming from Hall of Fame Bulls. Scottie Pippen spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times about the fouls Boozer's leaving on the floor, and M.J.'s running mate isn't too pleased with how that's gone. 
‘‘They’ve all got two legs and two arms,’’ the six-time NBA champion said. ‘‘You’ve got Carlos Boozer out there who’s spending fouls and a lot of his fouls are not needed at the time that he’s giving them. Those could be hard fouls. Those could be fouls that you knock a [Darren] Collison to the floor, you knock a [Jeff] Foster to the floor.

‘‘Utilize your fouls and make them more valuable for you and your team.’’
via Bulls’ Derrick Rose likely to play despite sore ankle - Chicago Sun-Times .

Pippen's not so much with the watching of the Jazz the last few years, is he? That's not who Boozer is. Never has been, and at his age, never will be. 

Boozer's defense in this series actually hasn't been bad. His numbers in ISO and spot-up defense from Synergy Sports are actually pretty decent.   He's only been posted on defense four times, though he's given three scores in that frame. As long as the Bulls don't have to play anyone with dual posting threats, they should be fine. But Pippen's point remains. If the Pacers are going to take shots at Rose aimed to send a message, the Bulls' bigs have to respond in kind. Joakim Noah is clearly willing to do so, as is Kurt Thomas. But Boozer?

Well, Boozer's willing to yell a lot, if that helps. 

(Note: It does not.)
 
 
 
 
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