Saturday, April 30, 2005

Game 3 open thread

You learn things in a playoff series. For instance, I didn't know that the MCI center was nicknamed 'the phone booth'. Game 3 comments go here all weekend. Tell your friends.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Handle with care

Here are some meaningful (or perhaps not) stats regarding the Bulls and Wizards' performance in the regular season and in combined games 1&2:

Free Throw Attempts        
Bulls FTA - Season 25.0   Wiz FTA - Season 30.2
Wiz oFTA - Season 24.8   Bulls oFTA - Season 28.1
Bulls FTA - Playoffs 27.5   Wiz FTA - Playoffs 34.5
Offensive Rebounds        
Bulls OREB - Season 12.2   Wiz OREB- Season 13.8
Wiz oOREB - Season 12.4   Bulls oOREB - Season 11.9
Bulls OREB - Playoffs 12.0   Wiz OREB - Playoffs 10.5
Bulls TO - Season 16.1   Wiz TO - Season 13.8
Wiz oTO - Season 15.1   Bulls oTO - Season 14.9
Bulls TO - Playoffs 12.0   Wiz TO - Playoffs 15.0
Effective FG%        
Bulls eFG% - Season 47.10%   Wiz eFG% - Season 47.40%
Wiz oeFG% - Season 49.80%   Bulls oeFG% - Season 45.40%
Bulls eFG% - Playoffs 49.70%   Wiz eFG% - Playoffs 44.30%
Notes: - these are not adjusted for pace.
            -'o' stands for opponent.
            -eFG%, in short factors in 3 pointers. More here.

Not much I can add that the numbers don't say: More fouls all-around. Both teams are below their expected offensive rebounds per game, the Wizards moreso. And the Wizards are not shooting well, yet not as drastic a decrease as I would've expected before I looked it up and saw that they haven't shot particularly well all season.

One does stand out though: The Bulls have drastically reduced their turnovers thus far in the playoffs, which is probably the key to the series. Early in game 2 the Wizards pressed the Bulls into mistakes and that allowed them to run out to an early lead. A comeback after a start like that cannot be expected every night, and will be even harder on the road. If the Bulls keep taking care of the ball like they have at the United Center, similar results will be their reward.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Game 2 open thread

So....whaddaya think??

Update: Bulls Win! Hinrich had his predicted 'big game' (to say the least) with 34 points in 24 minutes, aided by going 5-5 on 3-pointers. Good games all around, especially by the veterans, led by Antonio Davis (18pts in 30min). Skiles went to the bench after an ugly start to the game, and Griffin (22 min), Piatkowski (16 minutes), and Pargo (8 pts in 13 minutes) helped turn around the game in the 2nd quarter.

After going up 20 early in the 4th quarter, Skiles went back to a defensive lineup to finish the game. It was a controversial move since Kirk was the only one generating any offense, but it turned out to work as the Bulls held on where the Wizards only once climbed to within 6. I thought Skiles really coached a great game, especially since it was so unconventional for a playoff team. All of those games during the season where he used the bench to shake off a bad start paid off tonight, as the guys were ready down to the 12th man.

to Washington they go...

Monday, April 25, 2005


Check out myself, Matthew from Spursblog, and Dave from Crazy from the Heat on SportsBloggersLive all week (right now you can listen to a streaming realplayer file, the mp3 should be up soon). The show was recorded today, with other (and more prominent) guests including Peter King and Will Carroll. Basically I tried to praise the Bulls' defense as best I can, and answered a question about Nocioni's 'dirty' play. My (and the other the NBA bloggers') time got truncated, the sound was sketchy, and I babbled a bit, but it was still a fun experience and hopefully I'm asked back.

More reaction coming in after the Bulls' playoff victory on Sunday:

  • Sam Smith: "It was just that hustling show-and-recover defense that enabled the Bulls to accomplish what they did this season. The Bulls are excellent with help defense, coming into the lane and then getting back. The Wizards' excellence—offensive arrogance, really—played to the Bulls' strength. The Wizards believe they can make the play and get to the rim, especially Arenas. But the lanes closed quickly behind Duhon."
  • Melissa Isaacson: "If the Baby Bulls, as these players often are called, are a faceless bunch, they are also an unselfish one. In any given week, the team might have five different high scorers, as it did the last week of the season."
  • Greg Couch: "The Bulls' Othella Harrington was yapping at Haywood. Nocioni moved into the path of a driving Larry Hughes to be knocked to the floor for a charge. Nocioni once grabbed a rebound, saw Davis on the floor and looked to help him get up. Davis waved at him to get downcourt, he didn't need a hand. In your face, Washington. What are you going to do about it?"
  • Rick Morrissey: "The United Center was seeing its first playoff action in seven years, so the building already was a writhing pit of pent-up emotion. Add Nocioni to the mix, and the place threatened to move a foot or two down Madison Street due to seismic activity."
  • Jay Mariotti: "That's why Ben Gordon is so vital in this series. While Hinrich's shot comes and goes and Nocioni can't be expected to score 25 every game, Gordon must be consistent in every quarter of every game -- not just the fourth quarter."
  • Rick Telander: "That Bulls general manager John Paxson snagged this guy last summer from the Spanish pro league for a dollar and a doughnut -- actually $8.3 million for three years -- should shame a lot of NBA executives who might have thought Olympic champion Noch was an overachieving joke"
  • (The Rev.) Lacy  J. Banks: "Duhon turned in a defensive masterpiece, helping to disarm the would-be assassin by limiting Arenas to a scoreless first half and nine points for the game on 3-for-19 shooting. Arenas also committed a game-high four turnovers in the Bulls' 103-94 victory."
  • Marcus Brown: "The voting for executive of the year in the NBA should have ended last evening."
  • Anthony Roche: "I never thought Duhon could dunk."
  • Unknown Column: "It was a beautiful thing to be part of as I sat in the clouds of the United Center, literally two rows from the top, to be exact. As happy as I was with the Bulls win, I was equally happy for Bulls fans. After all, these are the same loyal folks who continued to keep the Bulls among the league leaders in attendance no matter how low the Bulls plunged, which was all too often somewhere near the earth's center. (The Rusty LaRue era, anyone?)"

Seeing the pages-upon-pages dedicated to the Bulls in the Trib and Sun-Times, it was like I was warped back into the mid-nineties.

The promised Dr. Jack-style breakdown may have to wait, as I'm gonna be at Wrigley tomorrow. But that'll mean I will have 2 games to analyze, right?
Short version though:

-Keep limiting the turnovers (only 9 in game 1).
-The fast pace doesn't bother me if the Bulls are careful. The Wiz transition defense is a suck-fest, so opportunities are there.
-Gordon's still gotta carry the offense, but expect at least one big game from Hinrich.
-Dropoff from Nocioni expected, but hopefully slack will be picked up by Chandler (who only had 16 minutes in game 1).
-Fear the wrath of Arenas (remember he did average 30 against the Bulls during the season).
-Don't complain about free-throw differential, expect it. (The Wiz lead the NBA in FTA, and the Bulls simply foul a lot) That said, the frontcourt (especially Nocioni and Tyson) need to stay on the floor.
-If it's close at the end, the Bulls need to close it out. The Wiz will have a blowout or two before this is over, so the Bulls would be wise to take advantage when they can.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Bulls 1, Wizards 0

Andres Nocioni, Ben Gordon, and Kirk Hinrich carried the Bulls to a series-opening win over the Wizards 103-94. The United Center was electric, what a fun and intense game from start to finish. The No-Ci-O-Ni chants reverberated throughout the arena as the game closed, appreciating a 25 pt, 18 reb effort. If the rest of the series is anything like this first game then there is a lot of exciting basketball to look forward to.

So much to say, I'll have to calm myself and then break it down "Dr. Jack" style in the next couple days.