May 6, 2013, 12:31 PM EST
When Mikhail Prokhorov bought the Brooklyn Nets he wanted a splashy name as head coach. They had a conversation with then Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau, a guy seen as a defense-first coach, but the only full interview they did was with former Mavericks coach Avery Johnson. He was their man.
Except Johnson got canned midway through this past season. P.J. Carlesimo took over a roster that had more talent on it than their eventual first-round opponent, the Chicago Bulls. Coached by that very same Tom Thibodeau.
And Thibodeau took the Nets to school.
The Bulls win in this series cements Thibodeau’s name up with the best tacticians in the game right now. There are other good coaches out there, smart ones who get a lot out of their teams (guys like George Karl, Rick Adelman) but as a pure tactician it is Gregg Popovich and Thibodeau then everyone else.
Thibodeau gets more out of the talent on his team than any coach in the league; he gets them to play with passion almost every night. He works harder than everyone and his team is molded in his image.
The Bulls won that first-round series because Thibodeau recognized the need to contain Deron Williams after Game 1 and recognized he had the guy in Kirk Hinrich to do it — D-Will shot 6-of-23 the next two games with 14 total assists with Hinrich dogging him. But it was more than that, it was the rest of the Bulls taking away back cuts and easy passing lanes. The Bulls took the paint back. By Game 2 Chicago was fully prepared for what the Nets wanted to do and the Nets never could fully counterpunch against a healthy Bulls defense.
The key to the series for the Bulls was winning a dramatic triple-overtime Game 4, where a Bulls team that is modeled after its coach would not give up and was tougher than the Nets.
But when Hinrich went down with a calf injury, when Luol Deng was out after needing a spinal tap, when Taj Gibson was banged up, when Nate Robinson was throwing up during timeouts in Game 6 due to the flu — and all that doesn’t even mention Derrick Rose —the Nets got back in it. Brooklyn won games five and six because the Bulls were just too banged up.
But in the deciding Game 7 the key was a Bulls offense designed to attack a soft Nets defense — Carlos Boozer blew by Andray Blatche, Marco Belinelli drove by Gerald Wallace with little trouble for a key basket. Joakim Noah outplayed a more gifted offensive center in Brook Lopez.
The Bulls had enough healthy bodies and that with their schemes was too much for a Nets team where the total was never greater than the sum of their parts. The Nets were predictable and Thibodeau recognized and exploited it.
Now Thibodeau and the Bulls take on the Miami Heat in a real matchup problem for them (and for everyone, the Heat have won 40 of their last 42 games). But the Bulls have had some success against the Heat by going inside to Boozer and Noah, by playing to their strengths and defending hard. And you know they will do it again.
The Bulls don’t have enough to win this series, but you know they are going to make the Heat work for every win.
Dec 19, 2013, 11:20 AM EST
It looks like Michael Jordan will have enough children to form his own basketball team. Jordan’s wife Yvette Prieto is pregnant with twins, reports TMZ. TMZ Sports has learned he’s having IDENTICAL twin girls. Michael’s wife, Yvette Prieto, is pregnant, though we don’t know how far along. They were married in April. Jordan has three…
Dec 19, 2013, 10:52 AM EST
LeBron James didn’t do anything blatent here — he didn’t go for the ball or hit the shooters’ elbow — but make no mistake: He fouled Paul George on the game’s final shot. Despite some protestations of Pacers’ players there was no call and the Heat got a 97-94 win Wednesday night. George did a…
Dec 19, 2013, 10:13 AM EST
Andrea Bargnani made a play near the end of the first overtime session on Wednesday in Milwaukee that was as boneheaded as they come, and could’ve easily cost his desperate Knicks team a much-needed win. After a missed shot by Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler tipped out the offensive rebound, which landed in Bargnani’s hands. The…
Dec 19, 2013, 9:31 AM EST
The Jazz won an ugly one against a Magic team playing without Arron Afflalo on Wednesday, and Trey Burke thoroughly outplayed fellow rookie Victor Oladipo in the process. Burke finished with a career high 30 points, while Oladipo managed just three on 1-of-12 shooting in 36 minutes of action. But Orlando likes Oladipo for his…
Dec 19, 2013, 8:45 AM EST
The Heat can be a little nonchalant about the regular season at times, but the Indiana Pacers got their attention. There’s a budding rivalry here (although it lacks someone to really stir the pot) and after the Pacers hot start to the season then win over the Heat eight days before, Miami’s key players showed…
Dec 19, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
The Signature Series takes a look at a play that’s largely unique to one team. Here’s Golden State’s Elevator screen play: The “Elevator” screen is one of the most aesthetically pleasing plays you’ll see in the league, particularly when it’s run by Golden State. That’s in large part because any possession that ends in a…
Dec 19, 2013, 2:23 AM EST
Our quick look around a busy night in the NBA, or what you missed while trying to buy some beer and pay for it with a live alligator… Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat. The last time Wade scored 30 points or more in a game it was Game 4 of the NBA Finals, so it’s been…
Dec 19, 2013, 12:40 AM EST
Kemba Walker just owned the Toronto Raptors. This was his game — 29 points on 18 shots, he could get into the paint or went 5-of-7 from three. Plus, he sank the game winner. The Bobcats had 1 second to get a shot off, the score tied 102-102 at the end of overtime. Walker comes…
Dec 18, 2013, 11:31 PM EST
The Knicks are prone to late-game lapses of judgment this season, and that trend continued on the road near the end of the first overtime session in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Leading by two points with under 20 seconds remaining after a miss by Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler tapped out the offensive rebound, and it landed…
Dec 18, 2013, 10:35 PM EST
In the second battle of the season between the two clear leaders of the Eastern Conference, the defending champs showed that they have more than enough talent to come away with a win if given even the smallest of windows to do so. The Pacers got out to a lead of as many as 15…
Dec 18, 2013, 9:52 PM EST
It’s been a running theme over the past few seasons in Miami, where the Heat veterans — namely LeBron James and Dwyane Wade — haven’t been at all shy about dressing down Mario Chalmers on the court following an in-game mistake. Two straight championships later, things apparently haven’t changed all that much. In the third…
Dec 18, 2013, 9:05 PM EST
Chase Budinger was expected to start and be a key part of the Minnesota attack — he can shoot the three and is very athletic so he can finish in transition. He’s a great fit with their Kevin Love/Ricky Rubio attack. However, for the second straight year Budinger has been sidelined by a knee injury…
Dec 18, 2013, 8:01 PM EST
Pau Gasol was off to a slow start this season, and after he and coach Mike D’Antoni traded jabs through the media about both his role and his performance, the Lakers had reportedly started to weigh their options by making Gasol available in trade long before the Feb. 20 deadline had begun to approach. Even…
Dec 18, 2013, 6:47 PM EST
The Lakers are playing without any healthy point guards at the moment, which is making things difficult on the team overall, but especially on Kobe Bryant. Bryant leads the league in turnovers with 5.7 per contest, and while he’s only played six games, it’s substantially more than Stephen Curry‘s 4.2 per game for the season.…
Dec 18, 2013, 5:55 PM EST
The basketball gods can be cruel. The Washington Wizards were celebrating a dramatic win over the New York Knicks the other night — we focused on the Knicks’ failings but credit to the Wizards for making the right plans and knocking down the big shots. For a team with playoff dreams it was a win…
Dec 18, 2013, 5:11 PM EST
Damian Lillard nailed a three pointer from roughly Shaker Heights to give the Trail Blazers a dramatic 119-116 win over Kyrie Irving‘s Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. That prompted Kay Adams to start off this edition of PBT Extra with the question Lillard or Irving? We also talk about the rise of LaMarcus Aldridge to…
Dec 18, 2013, 4:19 PM EST
We told you Jordan Hamilton would be sitting out for this when it went down. Denver’s Hamilton has been suspended one game by the league for throwing this punch, striking the Thunder’s Steven Adams, the league announced Wednesday. Hamilton will sit Friday when the Nuggets play the Suns. The incident took place at the start…
Dec 18, 2013, 4:07 PM EST
Houston’s Omer Asik is going to get traded Thursday. Not Wednesday —deals are still being hammered out. Not Friday — anyone acquired this day or later can’t be traded again at the February trade deadline in a combined deal with other teammates. It will happen Thursday. It looks more and more like the Celtics will…
Dec 18, 2013, 3:01 PM EST
Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Southern Comfort’s “whatever’s comfortable” ad series included one with a skinny rocker white guy doing some karate moves in a the kind of hair salon your grandmother goes to. It was oddly compelling. Chris Webber decided to spoof this, for whatever reason. My guess…
Dec 18, 2013, 2:21 PM EST
Greivis Vasquez ranks No. 18 in points per play he finishes as the pick-and-roll ball handler, and Amir Johnson ranks No. 31 as the pick-and-roll screener, according to MySynergySports. That should make the newly formed Raptors duo pretty formidable, and everyone involved sounds excited about the possibilities. Via Eric Koreen of the National Post: “When…
- Report: Michael Jordan’s wife pregnant with twin girls 0
- LeBron did foul Paul George on final shot but there was no call (VIDEO) 4
- The Extra Pass: Golden State’s Elevator Screen plus Wednesday’s recaps 0
- Wednesday night NBA grades: Vintage Dwyane Wade sighting 2
- Heat come from 15 down to even season series with Pacers 30
- NFL legend Jim Brown takes shot at Kobe Bryant, Kobe fires back (105)
- Report: Heat have interest in Celtics’ Jordan Crawford (50)
- Pau Gasol expresses frustration with D’Antoni offense. Lakers have to think trade. (49)
- Deserving or not Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade among All-Star starters in early voting returns (48)
- Mike D’Antoni to Pau Gasol: “There’s no reason to not play hard” (48)