By Marcus Shockley

Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer (5) drives the lane during game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. 2nd half action against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena, in Miami, Florida May 22, 2011. .The Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat 96-85.. UPI/Susan Knowles…

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but the transformation of Carlos Boozer into a player who won’t play defense is complete, and it just might be the reason the Bulls can’t beat the Heat during this playoff run. Tossing aside some of the obvious stories and issues with this series, such as the Heat working well together to claw out wins, to the repeated uncalled fouls that Derrick Rose isn’t getting, Boozer’s approach has gotten to the point of absurdity.

However, within all of this, I will go out on a limb and say that the Bulls may ultimately get the last laugh.

I want to be clear on this; it is not that Carlos Boozer can’t play defense, but that he absolutely won’t. The closest he now seems willing to do is a matador-style arm wave or two while his defender blows by him, but most of the time he’s content to let his man roam free and shoot uncontested shots as much as they may like.

This has hurt the Bulls in all of their losses to the Heat, but none more than when Boozer is guarding Chris Bosh, a player who has an exceptional mid range game and should never be allowed to get the kind of open looks that Boozer allows.

This year, the Heat and the Mavs are probably the story of the Finals, and the Heat will seem poised to be the next dynasty, even if the Mavericks are able to finally get Kidd and Dirk a ring.

I wouldn’t be so sure about that, though. The Bulls are one scoring wing away from being incredibly good, and considering the youth of Gibson, Noah and Rose, might be the real future of the East, if not the whole NBA. Oklahoma City wants to be the next superpower in the West, but they aren’t as close to greatness as the Bulls are, win or lose.


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By James Blackburn

Derrick Rose
Flikr/Keith Allison

Bulls Win 92-79
Box Score

Game Recap/Thoughts

  • The Bulls missed a lot of easy baskets in the first half, when they really had an opportunity to stretch the lead.
  • The Bulls played poor transition defense early in the 2nd quarter. They became lazy and complacent, allowing Cleveland to get back into the game.
  • The Cavs are a very scrappy and hard working team.
  • The second unit for the Cavs seems more active on D and run more than the starters.
  • Turnovers and bad shots plague the Cavs. They struggle to defend the post and the paint. They have no shot blocker when Ryan Hollins is out of the game.
  • The Cavs are a decent defensive team in general, they just really struggle offensively.
  • The Cavs lost because they settled into bad habits at the end of the game, shooting contested shots and the inability to defend the paint or the pick and roll, with Hollins out.

Scouting Reports


Antawn Jamison (37 min, 12-22 FG, 4-7 3pt, 11 reb, 5 assist, 31 TP)

Strengths- Good shooter from midrange and 3. Does it all on the court- fills up the stat sheet. Versatile scorer who can create his own shot, pull up, or get to the rim. Good rebounder. A very tough cover with what he can do offensively. Good size.

Weaknesses- Struggled defending Carlos Boozer in the post. He allowed Boozer to get too deep post position. Fades to his left when he shoots 3’s, leading to an inconsistent long ball.

Overall- After LeBron James left Cleveland for the sunny beaches of Miami, Jamison has been given the load to carry the offense for this young Cavs team. In his 12th year out of Chapel Hill, Jamison has been a consistent 20-10 guy in the league for years. Jamison’s play this season has been one of the few bright spots for a struggling Cavs team.

JJ Hickson (33 min, 5-19 FG, 20 reb, 1 blk, 13 TP)

Strengths- Excellent rebounder. Very active on offensive boards. Uses athleticism and boxes out and gobble up rebounds and keep the ball alive. Above average athletically. Had a nice block on Rose early in the game. Showed the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to rim. Takes in at people- takes it strong to basket.

Weaknesses- Needs to continue to work on constancy on jumper. Takes some possessions off on defense. Likes to turn over right shoulder for turn around jumper, but showed the ability to turn over either shoulder effectively. Lacks a go to post move.

Overview- Has really improved since his days at NC State. His offense used to be a dunk or nothing, and this was his case in his early years with Cleveland. The Cavs organization is very high on Hickson, and one can see why with his 20 rebounds tonight. Needs to continue to work on being more of an offensive threat, but has time to grow.

Ryan Hollins (17 min, 1-4 FG, 4-4 FT, 4 reb, 1 blk, 6 TP)

Strengths- Very long and athletic. Good defensive player. Talks on defense and directs traffic on the defensive end. Very active player who hustles and plays hard every minute on the floor. Good shot blocker who influenced a lot of shots tonight. Good rebounder who really crashes the boards. Sets good wide screens. Good team player- great attitude and good body language through out game.

Weaknesses- Needs to get stronger in the upper body. At times he over hedges on the screen and roll and this allows screener to slip screen. Still very raw offensively- dunk or nothing. Brings the ball down too low allowing guards to strip the ball.

Overview- Intriguing player. Very hard worker who competes on every play. A player who you want to see succeed because he works so hard. Had some success last year playing for Minnesota. Hollins, who is entering his 4th year, out of UCLA, would be a great role player for a playoff team like the Spurs or Celtics.


Kyle Korver (26 min, 4-9 FG, 3-6 3pt, 3 reb, 2 assist, 2 blk, 11 TP)

Strengths- One of the top 3 shooters in the NBA. Very quick release- can shoot off the screen and with his feet set. Good passer and an underrated defender and rebounder. Has quick hands on defense. Does not try to do too much- knows his role.

Weaknesses- needs to improve ball handling- looks down when he dribbles.

Overview- Another solid game for Korver who has had a productive year so far with Chicago after spending most of his career in Utah. One of the most respected and feared shooters in the NBA.

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Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (R) and Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng go for a loose ball during the fourth quarter at the United Center in Chicago on January 8, 2011. The Bulls won 90-79. UPI/Brian Kersey
By James Blackburn

Bulls Win 90-79

Box Score

Note- Noah did not play for the Bulls due to injury.

Game Recap/Thoughts

1st half

  • Game is a battle between division leaders.
  • Boston is the best passing team in the NBA- EVERYONE on the team can pass, including big men.
  • Boston is a half- court team, Bulls like to run, but also can play half-court basketball.
  • Boston did a great job on the boards early in the game. Bulls started getting a lot of second chance points at end of 1st quarter. Ended the quarter on a 10-0 run.
  • Turnovers hurt the Bulls the entire game, especially in the first half. Ended game with 21 TO’s. A lot of the TO’s were unforced. Bulls looked sloppy most of the game.
  • There is a night and day difference when Rondo comes out and N. Robinson comes in the game for Boston. Boston needs a better back up PG. Robinson is TO prone, shoots bad shots, and can’t defend very well. He is out of control on offense and reaches in too much on D.
    2nd half

  • Boston is a veteran team and they play like a veteran team. They are smart/poised/ and under control as a team. When the Bulls would go on a run, the Celtics would not panic. A lot of this can be attributed to Rondo.
  • Coach Rivers should have given more minutes to L. Harangody in the 3rd quarter. Glenn Davis did not have one of his best games.
  • The Bulls crowd started shouting “MVP” when D. Rose was at the FT line in the 3rd quarter.
  • The Bulls did a poor job of defending Davis on the perimeter. They went for his shot fake multiple times, even though Davis had missed the 15’ jumper all night, allowing Davis to get to the rim and draw the foul.
  • Big win for the Bulls ending a 2 game losing streak to 2 non-playoff teams.
  • Bulls got the win because they knocked down open perimeter shots off great ball movement in the 4th and they protected the paint.
  • Celtics lost because of the inability to guard the P/R with Shaq in the game and they turned the ball over on crucial possessions at end of game.

Scouting Reports


Derrick Rose (38 min, 10-19 FG, 15-19 FT, 5 reb, 4 TO’s, 36 TP)

Strengths- Strong/athletic/Explosive PG. Slashes to the rim hard and finishes strong. Protects ball well when attacking the basket. Showed an improved jump shot- has ability to shoot pull up off screen and roll situations. Good FT shooter and gets to the line a lot b/c he attacks the rim. Has an unusual 1 handed floater/pull up shot that he along baseline. He shoots it when he is off balance, but he hits it with surprising effenciency. Well conditioned player- played almost the entire game, but never seemed to slow down or lose speed or momentum.

Weaknesses- TO prone- jumps in the air to make passes most of the time. Forces the issue at times- shoots bad shots- plays out of control at times. Needs to continue to work on 3 pointer and show that he can hit it consistently.

Overview- One of Rose’s best games of the season. Rose has improved every year and continues to establish himself as an elite PG in the NBA.


Ray Allen (39 min, 7-13 FG, 3-5 3pt, 4 reb, 19 TP)

Strengths- Knock down shooter- who can hit the set 3, the set midrange, and has the ability to come off screens and shoot- very quick release. Underrated passer despite his 0 assists. Is a good defender especially against another shooter- shut down Kyle Korver this game.

Weaknesses- Needs to do a better job of finishing with contact at the rim. Has a tough time of creating his own shot against a good defender.

Overview- Allen shows game in and game out why he is the leader of 3 pointers made amongst active players. Defenders respect his shot so much, that Allen is able to get to the rim in a couple of dribbles because the defense plays so tight on him. Does not get the credit he deserves of being a solid overall basketball player who really knows the game, because of legendary shooting ability.

Rajon Rondo (37 min, 6-14 FG, 5 reb, 8 assist, 5 st, 13 TP)

Strengths- Changes speeds very well. Showed a nice touch on up and under lay ups and had a nice left hand finish over the defense. Great passer- if someone is even remotely open, they will get the ball. Poised, under control, a great leader. He seems to never be rushed or in a hurry. A true PG- he does a great job of directing traffic and directing the offense- making sure that guys are in the right spots to run the play. A true quarterback on the court. Does not rush his jump shot- good form- he knocked down a few 17’. Very quick hands on defense. Smart player and defender.

Weaknesses- Some times over penetrates and gets his lay up blocked. Needs to do a better job of getting over/ fighting around screens and overall P/R defense. Needs to continue to extend range of jump shot. Did knock down a couple of jumpers, but needs to make it consistent so the defense will respect it.

Overview- May be the best pure PG in the NBA this side of a healthy Steve Nash. Is like another coach on the floor. Directs the offense and is not afraid to tell fellow future Hall of Famer teammates where to go and what to do. People have been saying for years that if Rondo could develop a decent jump shot, he would be an all-star level PG. Well I am saying he is already an elite PG with out a shot, once he improves his midrange- he will undoubtedly be the best PG in the league.

Luke Harangody (13 min, 0-1 FG, 2 reb, 0 TP)

Strengths- He didn’t necessarily fill up the box score but this was a solid showing for the rookie out of Notre Dame. Strong and physical player. Very good rebounder who boxes out well. Is not very athletic but makes up for it with toughness. Is a good defender, who hedges screens well to stop the ball handler from turning the corner and then gets back to his man quickly. Hustle player who gives 110% on every play. Has a low release on his jumper and shoots it from the side of his head, but he showed this summer that he can shoot and has 3 pt range. Moves his feet well for his size.

Weaknesses- Needs to be more of a threat on offense. Had a rookie mistake at the end of the 3rd quarter- passed the ball when the shot clock was at 1, when he should of shot.

Overview- Very smart player. I thought he deserved more minutes this game. Was coming off his first double-double the night before in a win over Toronto. Even the Celtics like him, Coach Rivers minutes for the rookie have been erratic. Minutes are soon going to be hard to come by when Perkins and Garnett come back from injury. I believe Harangody will become a good player in this league. Reminds me of other players who are not the greatest athletes, but have found ways to be effective in the NBA because of heart, hustle, rebounding, defense, and strength. Such players include ex-Celtic Leon Powe, current Celtic Glenn Davis (who eats a lot of his minutes) Dejuan Blair, and Paul Millsap.

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