Thursday, March 24, 2005

The prep test

The Bulls have struggled at times, but have kept their heads above water with a 6-7 record.  With other teams around them slipping and firing coaches left and right, I suppose 6-7 isn't that bad. Here's the East standings:

 1.  Miami -- 
 2.   Detroit 9.0 
 3.   Boston 13.5 
 4.  Washington 14.0 
 5.  Cleveland 15.0 
 6.  Chicago 15.5 
 7.  Indiana 17.0 
 8.  Philadelphia 18.0 
 9.  Orlando 19.0 
 10.  New Jersey 19.5 
 11.  New York 21.5 
 12.  Toronto 23.0 
 13.  Milwaukee 24.0 
 14.  Charlotte 37.5 
 15.  Atlanta 40.0

While looking inconsistent early in the month, including losses @Milwaukee, @Clippers, and at home against the Hornets, the next two games are huge: A road game against the Celtics followed the next night at home against the Pacers.

We've come to the point in the season where it's time to realistically talk about playoff seedings. Even the players (and Skiles!) have been doing it. The Bulls Report has beaten me to the punch, however:

It's conceivable not only that the Bull could pass the Cavs and take the 5 slot, but also that they could slip into the 4 slot, past the Wiz. There are even some people talking about getting the 3 slot by passing the Pistons and winning the division. That seems a little optimistic.

I'd like to land in the 4 or 5 slot, playing either Washington or Cleveland. I think in a 7-game series, the Bulls would do well against either team. We want to avoid the 6 slot as it looks like the Celtics will be the 3 seed, and they've been tough to beat all year.

It's true, the Bulls have had their problems against Boston, losing 2 of 3 this season. And that was before the team re-acquired Antoine Walker. Since getting Walker the Celtics have been absolutely on fire, and no doubt both teams know that if the playoffs started today they'd be facing eachother.

To be honest I think that Bulls fans shouldn't be scared of a 7 game series against the Celtics. While they have been on a roll, and sport a really impressive mix of veterans and rookies, I think that the Bulls' defense can tilt an entire series in their favor. As long as it's consistent, they should be in every game. Then hand the ball over to Gordon of offense and see how him and the rest of the kids respond to playoff pressure. Friday night's contest will show if they can do it for one game.

The following game is at home against the Pacers, who despite losing Jermaine O'Neal for the rest of the season are still clawing to a spot. Between them, Philly, Orlando and New Jersey, I don't see a single team that will overtake the Bulls in the standings. A statement can be made Saturday to show that the Bulls can hold on the #6 spot. If that follows a win the night before in Boston, it shows that maybe the top 5 should start looking out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Reasons the NCAA tournament has me pining for the NBA playoffs:

  • It is the best basketball in the world played by the best players in the world.
  • Give me EJ, Kenny, and Chuck over ESPNtalkinghead, DickieV, and Digger any day. Steve Lavin is very good though.
  • Come on, all the big talent skip college, and the marginal talent would if they could.
  • Have you watched the tournament lately? The basketball is just poor. Say what you will about the lack of quality shooting in the NBA, but man I saw some ugly stuff this weekend. Exciting yes, but u-g-l-y.
  • The gushing over college coaches. I just don't like the idea of having them as the stars, especially when they are glorified used car salesmen. To loosely paraphrase Bill Simmons, any profession where Tim Floyd is considered quality can't be that impressive.
  • I hate scrappy underdogs. Get off the court and stop spoiling my bracket.
  • A seven-game series builds up so much tension and allows for so much strategy that in a close one you cannot top the excitement. I would take a couple weeks of Kings-Lakers in 2001 over 2.1 seconds of Christian Laettner.
  • "Let's get it started!". Just kidding, I'm sick of that song too.
  • Sure the NBA's schedule spreads out the playoffs so it lasts about 7 months, but at least you get to see all the games on TV.
  • I don't want to see Mike Wilkinson's girlfriend 20 times a game, let alone his mom too.
  • You cannot call a timeout when you're jumping out of bounds because you do not have possession of the ball when you're out of bounds.
  • The possession arrow is stupid too. Even Vitale wonders about that one.
  • Cinderella, Big Dance, Dancing, Slipper....I get it, cute.
  • Face it, once your bracket's toast you stop caring about who wins anymore, unless it is to root for others' brackets to blow up as well. Or to root against Duke.
  • Speaking of Duke, that AmEx ad with Coach (not a coach, a leader) K makes me vomit in my mouth. And why does he sign his credit card "Coach K"? 
  • Seeing the Women's tourney scores. Stop confusing me sportsticker, relegate that stuff  to the 5 or so fans not watching the Ellen Degeneres show at that moment. (that's right, I am not above making a tasteless lesbian joke)
  • Arguing over seeds and crying over who didn't make the tourney, and then seeing those 'snubs' get beat in the first round of the NIT in front of 300 people. That's right I'm talking about you, the suckfest formerly known as Notre Dame.
  • Both playoffs feature Kevin Harlan, so that's a push.
  • Man do I hate Bobby Knight. I would just love for him to coach the Trailblazers for a week, his antics would have him in the hospital with about 15 sets of handprints around his neck.
  • Automatic bid for the LittleSistersofThePoor conference. Have fun playing North Carolina or Kansas and getting a beatdown. Er....against Kansas you have a shot...
  • A coach saying how much he loves his mid-major job and never admitting that a move to a power conference school for a power conference contract is actually kind of enticing.
  • The veiled shots at the NBA when talking about kids who stayed 4 years and are now enjoying the tourney experience. They neglect to mention that in the NBA you get to experience the Gold Club in Atlanta.
  • That 3-point line is I think only 12 feet from the basket. Jack Ingram can launch from there.
  • I would complain about CSI promos, but then again TNT uses highlights and splices them with movie trailers. Remember that one where Van Helsing got blocked by Dikembe Mutumbo and then Helsing subsequently shot him in the shin with a crossbow?
  • Billy Packer.
  • Ok so don't you feel a little guilty seeing these supposed 'students' play on national TV with millions of dollars changing hands from all sides with the name of an institution of higher learning placed across his chest?

Reasons why I (and America) still love the NCAA tournament, and justifiably so:

Monday, March 21, 2005

Carnival update

Carnival of the NBA #4 is up at Click, scroll down, and look for the tent: