Give the Nuggets Credit/Keys for the Bulls
Without a doubt, this is my favorite time of the year (over the NCAA Tournament all day). Beyond the general statement that “It’s the playoffs”, you welcome what comes with it: loud buildings, hard playoff fouls, and intensity that can boil over in the second season. I hate to quote Terrell Owens, but it’s time to get our popcorn ready.
Below, I’m going to take a look into some series that have stuck out in my mind, either already decided or undecided. Today I’ll look into the Bulls-Celtics first round-series, as well as the Nuggets’ first round win against New Orleans last night.
New Orleans Hornets-Denver Nuggets: Nuggets win series 4-1
If I was surprised by one thing, it’s that CP3 can’t do it all. But being serious, the job the Nuggets did on the defensive end is what won the series. Kenyon Martin deserves a lot of credit, because in the postseason it seems as if he is always giving somebody fits. This time it would be David West, who Martin was just all over and refused to allow to get into a rhythm. Dahntay Jones has to be included in this as well, as he is the one who was assigned to slow Chris Paul down. Come to think of it, it was more of grinding down and getting physical with CP3, who was the most legitimate worry of taking over a playoff series.
Offensively, Chauncey Billups has shown he’s still “the goods”. In the next series with Dallas, Billups’ leadership is going to play a big part in Denver’s success. The Nuggets have a lot of young talent, and under some adversity you worry about being a deer caught in the headlights. With Billups around, you hope this could be nullified.
Chicago Bulls-Boston Celtics: Celtics lead 3-2
By saying this is my favorite series, I don’t feel as if I’m in the minority here. Besides that atrocious showing in game three by Chicago, this has been what the NBA is all about, with every game going down to the wire.
Game six gets underway tonight in Chicago, and for the Bulls to survive to reach a game seven in Boston, it’s imperative that they follow certain keys to success:
It can sometimes get ugly when the Bulls are forced into a half-court offense for most of the night. Like many NBA teams, when stuck in the half court, a lot of the times it results in nothing but one-on-one offense. The tempo must be pushed, but more importantly the Bulls must force turnovers to get the break started. As good as the Celtics are defensively, they aren’t the most athletic team in the world.
I’m a bit interested to see what rotation Vinny Del Negro uses up front tonight. I could envision a lot of Brad Miller and his thicker frame to help neutralize the Celtics’ bulk on the boards. Offensively, if the Bulls can get any decent production from their frontcourt then they stand a much better chance. This also goes back into the Bulls needing to run, because Boston’s defensive schemes will allow Bulls big men to shoot all night, and aside from Brad Miller, that isn’t a good thing.
Trap Ray Allen/Defending Paul Pierce/Rondo Runs Wild
Considering it’s a game six in Chicago, I’d like to see the Bulls trap Ray Allen hard and force guys like Glen Davis to beat them with a jump shot or make a play themselves. Any of that is better than Ray Allen getting off early.
As far as Paul Pierce goes, he can take a defender out to the foul line area all day and create his offense. It’s that easy for him, and that’s why I’m surprised he hasn’t had a more dominant series. If this is a focal point for Boston, then I’m mixing up the looks Pierce will see. That means different defenders, and in general different looks. You want to keep him guessing and out of a rhythm.
And for Rajon Rondo, I know he’s a shooting liability, and that’s why you don’t keep him accounted for on the defensive end, but the guy is making you pay on the offensive glass. You face enough problems on the boards with Kendrick Perkins, but to have Rondo running around getting Jason Kidd-like rebounding numbers, it means you have a problem. Not to mention Rondo is getting anywhere he wants with his dribble because of how Bulls defenders are guarding him. In short, Rondo has shown why he’s a top point guard in this league, regardless of shooting ability. The Bulls had better get the memo.