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The Chicago Bulls Have NO Chance Of Beating The Miami Heat

Posted by sportsmaven on May 22, 2011

You heard it here first if you already haven’t witnessed it firsthand tonight. The NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals are over. The Chicago Bulls have no chance of winning against this Miami Heat team. Not in a seven game series. Not when the Bulls vaunted defense is neutered by NBA referees when they decide to play defense. Not when the Bulls don’t follow their game plan. Not when the Bulls again can’t make a basket. Not when the Bulls are bullied, pushed around, out-muscled, out-hustled and out-classed. Not if they play defense like they did tonight.

Believe what you want about the Bulls, but know this: The Bulls are in the midst of learning a serious lesson and if they don’t get their act together soon, their season will be over. When you turn on your TV tomorrow, I can almost guarantee that you will hear ESPN’s Skip Bayless say the series is over and he won’t be the only one that holds that opinion.

ESPN, TNT and Comcast Sports Net, analysts have all talked about the benches being a factor, but they are absolutely wrong. What it comes down to is Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh vs. Derrick Rose, and the level of defense each team plays and that’s it. The rest is all coffee house chatter. The problem with this Chicago Bulls team is that I don’t trust them. Not in these playoffs. They have played two good games in a lackluster first round matchup against an inferior Indiana Pacers team. They played two somewhat dominant games in the second round against a very beatable Atlanta Hawks team that played even less physical than the Pacers. The Bulls played their most dominant game of the post-season in Game 1 of the Conference Finals and haven’t shown up since.

For the last three days leading up to Game 3, I’ve heard the Bulls talk extensively about wanting to push the pace, attack before Miami sets up their half-court defense, be aggressive. What I saw tonight was the Bulls walking the ball up nearly every possession, settling for jump shots, no movement of the ball, and no drive, kick and shoot. Too many missed shots under the basket. As for the Bulls players, what happened to Joakim Noah and Luol Deng? Kyle Korver’s shot still MIA. Carlos Boozer offensive game appeared tonight, but as usual, his defense was atrocious.

On defense, the Bulls had too many breakdowns, bad or no rotations, little help defense and virtually no aggression. Nobody in a red jersey touched Chris Bosh tonight and it showed. Little intensity, passion and desire in the 4th quarter equals yet another winnable loss. Miami seemed to get to all the loose balls and seemed to have all the bounces go their way.

As for the Heat, give them credit, they executed their game plan. They let go of Game 1, made their adjustments and cranked it up a notch. They executed the Bulls game plan better than the Bulls did while they were at it. They played defense the way the Bulls have played defense the entire season, something the Bulls have seemed to forget to play at times throughout the playoffs.

Now that the Heat have figured the Bulls out, shut down Derrick Rose and wrestled home court advantage away from the Bulls, how will coach Tom Thibodeau and his young team respond? So far, the Bulls have had absolutely no answers for the Heat’s adjustments, nor have they matched the Heat’s intensity and hustle. Game 4 becomes critical, the most important game of the season. And by the way, all the pressure is squarely on the Bulls. I can guarantee you this, the Bulls will learn a lesson on Tuesday night. Only time will tell if they are mentally strong enough to learn the lesson now, next year or if they will ever learn it.

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Three Reasons Why Chicago Bulls Show Signs Of Implosion

Posted by sportsmaven on January 26, 2009

This has not been the best of weeks for a beleagured Chicago Bulls basketball franchise.  This week may be, perhaps the most trying and challenging week in the last 10 years since the drama filled Bulls championship run ended in 1998. With tonight’s 109-108 OT loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Bulls end the week with a five game losing streak.  The Bulls have looked unprepared, disjointed, and uninspired.  And  now, G Ben Gordon airs his dirty laundry out on a rookie head coach in a profanity laced tirade over his objections to a fine for being late for the team flight. The argument just happened to occur in plain sight of the local Chicago sportswriting media.  It may be an inflection point for a franchise that has seen more turmoil of late than championship caliber basketball.

Chicago Bulls forward Thabo Sefolosha (2), guard Kirk Hinrich (12), and forward Tyrus Thomas (24) look on from the bench in the final seconds of their 109-108 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime in an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)

Chicago Bulls forward Thabo Sefolosha (2), guard Kirk Hinrich (12), and forward Tyrus Thomas (24) look on from the bench in the final seconds of their 109-108 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime in an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)

Where did it all go wrong for the Chicago Bulls?  The Bulls ended the 2006-2007 season with a record of 49-33, one win away from the magical 50 win mark, an acheivement the Bulls have not accomplished since 1998, the year of the 6th and final NBA Championship.  In the 2006-07 playoffs, the Bulls swept the defending NBA Champions, the Miami Heat decisively in 4 games.  In the Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Bulls ran into a buzzsaw, losing the first three games of the series to the Detroit Pistons, but showed great heart and fight by coming back to win the next two games, including a game in Detroit, before bowing out of the playoffs in a 95-85 Game 6 loss.  These Bulls were positioned to skyrocket back to prominence in the Eastern Conference, with some experts picking the Bulls as a favorite to win the conference in 2007-08.

The Bulls took three steps back in 2007 and continue to take yet another step back this season, and it clearly shows when looking at the performance over the last season and a half.  There are three reasons why the Bulls are in a free-fall.  They are:

1.  Lack of growth and development from the core players of this team. F Luol Deng eventually received his long term contract, signing a 6 year, $71 million contract in July 2008.  He’s proceeded to become oft injured and his improvement has stalled as his missed time increased.scoring, rebounding and assist totals have decreased three years in a row.  G Ben Gordon signed the one year tender again, after initially stating he would not play for the Bulls again, and remains a perfect 6th man that demands to be a starter, a scorer extreme, and defensive liability.  C Joakim Noah has made virtually no progress in improving his game, irking veteran teammates with untimely, unwise criticism, while averaging 5.8 pts and 5.8 rebounds in his very short, very unenergetic career.  F Tyrus Thomas is one of the most athletic players in the NBA, but after 2/12 seasons, 187 games, he is shown only incremental improvement.  Add in the inconsistent play of G Thabo Sefolosha, the young core of the Bulls team has shown a clear lack of development.

2.  When the Bulls fired Scott Skiles, management removed one of the only legitimate symbols of a winning mindset. Coaching in the NBA is part knowledge of the game and part psychologist, and Skiles had a history of taking talented teams and getting them to buy into his program of selfless sharing on offense and hustling, all out play on defense, which ultimately leads to winning.  He lifted a struggling Phoenix Suns team to the playoffs, but was fired after the team stopped responding to his demanding, hard-charging style and started to tune him out.  The same thing happened in Chicago.  Now Skiles is the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks and he has the Bucks in the 8th and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference if the season ended today.  The Bucks appear to be responding to Skiles coaching style quite nicely.  After Skiles, the Bulls needed to either reshape the roster, or hire a coach to take them from Point A to Point B.  What they did was whiff badly on their first to choices for coach (Mike D’Antoni and Doug Collins) ultimately taking a chance on a rookie coach (Vinny Del Negro) who has never coachedbasketball  on any level, who has a reputation for being a communicative “players coach”, the philosophical opposite of Skiles.  To date, that risk appears to have not panned out, with speculation of DelNegro losing the team already and rumors that he may not be around to finish the season.

3. Management has failed to acquire one superstar who can carry a team and provide leadership on the floor. Bulls General Manager John Paxson has tried to bring an atmosphere of winning back the Bulls organization.  He has focused on drafting and acquiring players that have played for high profile, winning collegiate basketball programs such as Duke Blue Devils (Deng and G Chris Duhon), Connecticut Huskies (Gordon), national championship runner up Kansas Jayhawks (G Kirk Hinrich and F Drew Gooden), and the national champion Florida Gators (Noah).   While the group of players Paxson acquired are solid basketball players, they are all role players of a supporting cast lacking a true superstar caliber player.  Paxson, like his predecessor, Jerry Krause, has whiffed on acquiring ultratalented superstars such as G Kobe Bryant and  F Kevin Garnett, instead, opting for a past his prime C Ben Wallace, who signed such an albatross contract, that Paxson had to take on the equally bad contract of G Larry Hughes to move Wallace.  The Bulls did luck out in winning the 2008 NBA Draft lottery, yielding Chicago-native G Derrick Rose from University of Memphis.  Rose is young and an up and coming superstar, but is not there yet.  Until he gets there, the Bulls will struggle with the roster they have today.

The remainder of this Bulls season should be focused on finding out if Vinny DelNegro is the right coach, identifying players on the current roster who can play with Derrick Rose, and positioning themselves as far under the salary cap as they can get in 2010, when they can grab any one of a host of superstars from a free agent class headed by F LeBron James, F Chris Bosh, F Dirk Nowitzki, G Dwayne Wade, amongst others.  Anything outside of this may signal the end of the John Paxson era in Chicago.

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Super Bowl XLI Predictions

Posted by sportsmaven on February 3, 2007

The Super Bowl brings the good, the bad, and the ugly in predictions from almost everybody who is somebody on the planet. From athletes, to the media, and celebrities, everyone is an expert when it comes to their Super Bowl picks. In an attempt to consolidate as many Super Bowl predictions as I could find and hear this week, the following lists are the “expert” opinions on who wins Super Bowl XLI on Sunday:

NFL Players, Coaches, Analysts Picks:

    • ESPN Analysts

      Len Pasquarelli – Colts 27-23

      John Clayton – Colts 27-17

      Chris Mortensen – Colts 27-20

      Gene Wojciechowski – Bears 27-26

      Gary Horton – Colts 31-24

      Jeremy Green – Bears 26-23

      Bill Simmons – Bears 33-30

      Jemele Hill – Bears 34-31

      Scoop Jackson – Bears 31-28

      Ron Jaworski – Colts 31-21

      Sal Paolantonio – Colts 31-20

      Eric Allen – Bears 21-17

      Mike Golic – Colts 31-23

      Greg Garber – Colts 30-21

      KC Joyner – Bears 31-27

      John Banks, Deputy Editor – Colts 31-14

      Peter Lawrence-Riddell – Colts 28-17

      Joe Wojciechowski – Colts 27-20

      Chris Berman – Colts 30-20

      Joe Theismann – Colts

      Merril Hoge – Colts

      HBO’s Inside the NFL Team

      Bob Costas – Colts

      Cris Carter – Colts

      Dan Marino – Colts

      Cris Collinsworth – Bears

      ESPN’s Around the Horn Team

      Tim Cowlishaw – Bears

      Tony Reali – Colts

      Jay Mariotti – Bears

      Woody Paige – Colts

      Jackie MacMullen – Colts

      Kevin Blackistone – Colts

      ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption Team

      Michael Wilbon – Bears

      Tony Kornheiser – Colts

      Other ESPN Personalities

      Jim Rome – Colts 24-17

      Andrew Siciliano – Bears

      Ray Ratto – Colts 31-16

      Fox’s The Best Damn Sports Show Period

      Chris Rose – Colts

      Rodney Peete – Bears

      Leann Tweeden – Colts

      Rob Dibble – Bears

      John Salley – Colts

      Chicago Tribune Reporters

      Terry Bannon – Colts 27-23

      Mike Downey – Bears 28-26

      Brian Hamilton – Colts 27-23

      Ed Sherman – Colts 31-20

      Bob Foltman – Colts 24-21

      John Mullin – Bears 21-20

      Rick Morrissey – Bears 28-17

      Fred Mitchell – Bears 27-23

      Dan McGrath – Colts 30-21

      Melissa Issacson – Bears 28-24

      David Haugh – Bears 31-28

      Don Pierson – Colts 30-24

      Skip Myslinski – Colts 34-21

      Paul Sullivan – Bears 30-27

      Lew Freedman – Bears 27-21

      Mark Gonzales – Colts 31-27

      Teddy Greenstein – Bears 27-23

      Philip Hersh – Bears 30-27

      Ed Hinton – Bears 24-9

      Michael Hirsley – Bears 28-21

      KC Johnson – Bears 28-14

      Barry Temkin – Bears 31-27

      Dave Van Dyck – Bears 23-20

      Actors/Celebrities/Athletes/Politicians

      David Letterman – Colts 34-27

      Tom Dreesen – Bears 30-27

      Craig Ferguson – Colts

      Morgan Freeman – Colts

      William H. Macy – Colts

      Dennis Farina – Bears 23-17

      Joe Mantegna – Bears 31-21

      Gary Sinise – Bears 24-21

      Dennis Franz – Bears 24-13

      Bernie Mac – Bears 33-31

      Ashton Kutcher – Bears 24-20

      Paul Newman – Bears 21-20

      Dwayne Wade – Bears 28-24

      Sylvester Stallone – Colts 38-30

      Jack Nicklaus – Colts 34-24

      Arnold Palmer – Colts 31-24

      Serena Williams – Colts 17-13

      Sen. John McCain – Colts by 6

      Sen. John Kerry – Colts 34-27

      Al Franken – Bears 21-20

      Bill O’Reilly – Colts 31-10

      Larry King – Colts 21-7

      Charlie Sheen – Colts 37-33

      Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR – Colts 31-28

      William Shatner – Colts 24-17

      Haley Joel Osment – Colts 31-24

      Mickey Rooney – Bears 24-14

      Tony Sirico – Colts 21-14

      Pat Robertson – Colts 17-14

      Jerry Falwell – Colts by 14

      Duane “Dog” Chapman – Bears 35-28

      John Wooden – Colts

      Bobby Thomson – Colts 24-17

      Ralph Branca – Colts 41-24

      Jennie Finch – Colts 34-27

      Danica Patrick – Bears 31-27

      Molly Sims – Colts 31-24

      Kendra Wilkinson (Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend) – Colts 27-13

      Dick Vitale – Colts 28-21

      Tony Parker – Colts 25-20

      Phil Jackson – Bears 20-15

      Bob Cousy – Colts 37-12

      Leroy Nieman – Colts 24-10

      Ed Asner – Bears 27-24

      Elisabeth Shue – Colts 35-21

      Dionne Warwick – Colts 28-21

      Wayne Newton – Bears 21-7

      Dick Van Patten – Colts 31-21

      Connie Stevens – Bears 32-23

      Jack Valenti – Colts 28-27

      Tobin Bell – Colts 31-6

      Robert Loggia – Colts 35-29

      Buzz Aldrin – Colts 28-17

      Chuck Yeager – Colts 21-14

      Sen. Richard Lugar – Colts

      Richard M. Daley – Bears

      Mike Eruzione – Colts 31-21

      Michael Phelps – Colts 28-17

      Jermain Taylor – Colts 30-24

      Jeremy Wariner – Bears 27-10

      Kerri Walsh – Colts 27-18

      Ian MacShane – Bears 38-35

      William Sanderson – Colts 31-17

      Leah Remini – Colts 34-23

      Jesse L. Martin – Colts 31-24

      James Denton – Colts 26-16

      Jim Caviezel – Colts 31-20

      John Amos – Bears 24-17

      Marisol Nichols – Bears 24-20

      Stephen Root – Colts 27-21

      Robert Iler, Jr. – Bears 28-24

      Dawn Wells – Colts 24-14

      Barry Williams – Colts 27-17

      Florence Henderson – Colts 24-14

      Adam West – Colts 28-24

      Sam Hornish – Colts 41-14

      Matt Kenseth – Colts 34-17

      Jeff Burton – Colts 28-24

      Susan Anton – Colts 31-24

      L. Scott Turow – Bears 24-20

      Vince Neil – Colts 31-24

      Joan Jett – Colts 28-14

      Carrot Top – Colts 31-17

      Penn & Teller – Colts 28-17

      James Blake – Colts 27-17

      Reggie Miller – Colts

      Steve Kerr – Bears

      LeBron James – Colts

      Andy Roddick – Colts

      Bill Bellamy – Bears

      Anna Kournikova – Bears

      Enrique Iglesias – Bears

      Stewart Cink – Colts

      John Daly – Colts

      Davis Love III – Colts

      Brad Faxon – Colts

      Charles Howell III – Colts

      David Toms – Colts

      Justin Leonard – Colts

      Jeff Sluman – Bears

      Aaron Baddeley – Colts

      Fred Couples – Colts

      Camilo Villegas – Bears

      Tom Glavine – Colts

      David Wright – Bears

      John Maine – Colts

      Jose Reyes – Colts

      Vernon Wells – Colts

      NBC Staff – 3 of 5 pick the Colts

      USA Today – 5 of 6 pick the Colts

  • Zach Thomas, LB, Dolphins – Bears

    Roy Williams, S, Cowboys – Bears

    Drew Brees, QB, Saings – Colts

    Sean Payton, Head Coach, Saints – Colts

    Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals – Colts

    Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks – Bears

    TJ Houshmanzadeh, WR, Bengals – Bears

    Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars – Colts by 14

    Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins – Colts

    Joe Montana – Colts

    Mike Ditka – Bears 28-24

    Jack Del Rio, Head Coach, Jaguars – Colts

    Curtis Martin, RB, Jets – Colts

    LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers – Colts

    Steve Mariucci – Colts

    Michael Strahan, DE, Giants – Colts

    Jarrett Payton, RB, Titans – Bears

    Troy Aikman – Colts

    Michael Irvin – Colts

    Media

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