With the 2016 NBA playoffs approaching, the Chicago Bulls are in trouble of meshing with the Detroit Pistons and the Washington Wizards for the 8th seed. If the Bulls are successful of holding onto the 8th seed, they will meet the Cleveland Cavaliers who are having chemistry issues with Lebron James and Kyrie Irving not clicking on all cylinders and not on the same page playing basketball. Things will get tough for Chicago in the off-season, trying to trade these star Bulls and their massive salaries such as Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose.
This Bulls team, coached by former-NCAA coach Fred Holberg, is busy trying to find a leader within its core system of players. Is it Derrick Rose? Is it Jimmy Butler? Is it Pau Gasol? Is it Joakim Noah? Usually, the most vocal player is the leader. Since we’ve heard from the Chicago Bulls, it’s usually Butler who has shown signs of leadership. Since Butler’s improvements over the last two NBA seasons, Butler wants to show he can lead a team.
If Jimmy Butler is the leader, he must decide how to integrate the players on his team into the flow of the offense and decide how they must play defence as one team.
The Chicago Bulls took care of business with Cleveland in Game 1, winning it 99-92. Derrick Rose led the way and Pau Gasol was behind him. Cleveland is without Kevin Love and J.R. Smith. It hurt them. That’s why the Cavaliers lost the game. The L.A. Clippers beat the Houston Rockets 117-101 and they were fresh off their Game 7 victory over San Antonio plus they did win Game 1 with Houston without their star point guard Chris Paul. The Atlanta Hawks bounced back from their Game 1 loss with a Game 2 victory with the Washington Wizards. If the Hawks can withstand a Wizards half-court offense with Marcin Gortat and Nene and play up-tempo basketball, they will have a chance to win the series. Otherwise, a low-post presence will hurt these smaller Hawks players. In Game 1 between the Wizards and the Hawks, the Wizards dominated because they had size and height over Atlanta. The Memphis Grizzlies also bounced back to beat the Golden State Warriors and will go to Memphis with the series tied at one game apiece. In Game 1, the Warriors were playing perfect basketball and in Game 2, the emergence of Mike Conley came back and helped Memphis regain control of the basketball game and the series.
The Atlanta Hawks have knocked off the Brooklyn Nets in six games, behind NBA Coach of the Year winner Mike Budenholzer who has effortlessly led these Hawks, who has heard of DeMarre Carroll and Mike Scott and Dennis Schroder, to a winning record. The Chicago Bulls have outlasted these feisty and long-armed Milwaukee Bucks with their size and half court offense with Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. The Bulls have gotten under the Bucks’ skin late in Game 6, and I would expect a rematch between these two teams in the future. The Golden State Warriors dispatch of the New Orleans Pelicans was no contest. The Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies who got rid of the Portland Trail Blazers in five games. The Clippers outlasted the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 as they win 111-109 and will face the Houston Rockets in the second round, Kevin McHale’s squad playing outstanding with the play of James Harden and Dwight Howard were too much for the older, aging Dirk Nowitzki and these Dallas Mavericks.
The Golden State Warriors are up 3-0 over the New Orleans Pelicans, because they have a never-say-die attitude behind Steve Kerr’s coaching. Kerr has let Draymond Green regain hold of his basketball position and has let Green rebound and shoot three pointers and holding his intangibles to help the Warriors reach the second round of the playoffs. The Chicago Bulls are also up 3-0 on the Milwaukee Bucks, because Tom Thibodeau’s squad refuse to say don’t lose and they are able to retain what they know about fundamental basketball on the court with their big front court of Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Mike Dunleavy. Fundamentals and the long wingspan of the front court has let the Bulls dangle and win three games in a row.
I’ve said it all along. If the New York Knicks agree that there is only one leader and team captain, they will succeed. They will not get far ahead if Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are co-captains. If Carmelo Anthony is leading New York, then Stoudemire must be following Anthony. I’m not too surprised by what’s going on in the NBA. I like how the Memphis Grizzlies are grinding out victories. There’s nothing easy about victories and the Grizzlies are showing that with their tough-nosed defense and heart and desire. The Lakers are having a tough time and I know why. They need a coach who knows how to play Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard together at the same time. It could be Mike D’Antoni, but he’s not the right fit for them. The best coach is Phil Jackson, because he has coached the best basketball talent the NBA has to offer him.
It seems the U.S. basketball program is intent on making its players going to represent basketball players from this country based on talent and athleticism. If that is the case, the Americans will have trouble defending bigger players whose basketball talents lie in the areas of length and size. They will keep running against the world’s best basketball players and if that is the case, the world will take their bigs and take it down low against the Americans where they lack the size against the world. I think the U.S.A. basketball program should rethink organizing and retooling a reinvented basketball team based on length and size. If I were to organize a team against a Spanish team that has the likes of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, and Jose Calderon, I would like to have a defensive-minded and solid distributing point guard in Rajon Rondo. I would like to have Rondo match up against Jose Calderon. What about Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol, you say? Greg Monroe and Lamar Odom. The Gasol brothers gave the Americans a bunch of headaches and the Americans didn’t like the Gasol brothers patrolling the lane. What about Brazil? Leandro Barbosa against Ty Lawson. The quicker Barbosa is a lot to handle for Lawson. Nene? I’d put the lighter Kevin Durant who is my favorite bench warmer on Nene. Durant on the perimeter will open up the paint for Odom and Monroe, whoever is the 4 or 5. Whatever the thinking the U.S. basketball program has about athleticism, it’s working against the world’s best basketball players, however it has trouble defending and keeping the world’s big post players from scoring the basketball on the inside. They might want to rethink about going with length and size, if that’s what they want to see in their own best basketball players.