OK, I’m officially exhausted from last night’s triple-OT thriller between the Thunder and the Grizzlies. Just imagine how Kevin Durant feels, having logged a mind-boggling 57 minutes last night?!?
The Thunder won the game, but the real winner’s last night? The Dallas Mavericks. Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Dirk, and the rest of the 30+ crew had to be smiling with ice packs on their knees watching their eventual Conference Finals opponent slugging out a 63-minute brawl…
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Atlanta Hawks @ Chicago Bulls -8.5 (Total: 181)
There’s only one game on the playoff slate tonight, thanks to the Lakers early exit, but it is a good one; game five of a 2-2 series is always an enormously important game and tonight’s should be another thriller. The Hawks are looking to gather the momentum they built in their game four’s home win and take it with them to the United Center tonight against the resilient Bulls.
The key for the Bulls is to get some kind of offensive contribution outside of Derrick Rose. In the games they’ve won in this year’s playoffs, a significant amount of the scoring burden has fallen to their role players on the wing; be it Luol Deng, Kyle Korver, Keith Bogans – when one of them is scoring, the Bulls generally start rolling. And they are going to need at least one to step up, because as the Playoffs continue to progress Carlos Boozer seems to be doing the opposite…
Yes, much of the focus falls on D-Rose, as well it should. He’s not the NBA’s youngest ever MVP for nothing. But a little too much has been made of his less-than-excellent shooting percentage. What his percentage fails to account for is the extremely high number of times he is stuck with the ball like a hot potato with three or four seconds left on the shot clock and is forced into desperately improvising something resembling a quality look at the basket.
It also fails to account for the incredibly high number of free throw attempts he generates. Yes, he might have been 12-32 from the floor last game, but factor in his 9-11 from the foul line, and it is an efficiency equivalent of 17 for 37; a much more respectable number, especially for a lead guard who also dropped ten assists in the process.
The point is, at the end of the series, the Bulls will have Derrick Rose, and the Hawks will have Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Jamal Crawford, Josh Smith; a bunch of nice pieces but no centerpiece… no Derrick Rose.
Rose is the difference in this series destined to go the distance. For tonight, I like the Bulls to win, but I am not willing to lay nine on any team left in this year’s Playoffs. Gimme the Hakws and the points to keep things interesting.