Chicago Bulls: Chris Bosh
Four summers ago, Heat team president Pat Riley outsmarted everyone in the league by finding a way to get LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami to play alongside Dwyane Wade. Now, it's Carmelo Anthony the Heat have focused their recruiting sales pitch on heading into the summer, according to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein.
Players like Chicago, appreciate the core of tough-minded players Bulls executives Gar Forman and John Paxson have put together, and they respect coach Tom Thibodeau. But in the end, they always find another place to land.
In this case, it appears more likely than ever that Anthony will either take a max contract to stay with his current team, the New York Knicks, or take less money to join up with his good friend James in Miami.
Why would he take less money to play for the Bulls if he could take less and play for the Heat, who have gone to four straight NBA Finals? Why would he come to Chicago and hitch the rest of his professional prime to Derrick Rose when he could play with the best player on the planet in James? Anthony could always decide to stay in New York, given the Knicks can offer him more money than any other team.
The whole scenario must feel a little like Groundhog Day to Forman and Paxson. They've been through this cycle. A superstar player talks openly about how much they respect the Bulls, only to sign elsewhere. As my colleague Tom Waddle likes to say: "You can't force a player to take a team's money." The Bulls have learned this lesson the hard way.
No matter what happens in the coming weeks, it seems the chances are smaller than ever that Anthony comes to Chicago next season.
So what do the Bulls do next?
If Anthony is truly out of the picture, they must focus all of their efforts on landing Minnesota Timberwolves big man Kevin Love. While Love's presence wouldn't put the Bulls past the Heat on paper, it would give them the next best chance to contend for a title. As long as the Bulls don't have to give up Joakim Noah, every other player should be available to Minnesota for the taking.
But the issue for the Bulls in landing Love remains similar to that of Anthony. Nobody knows exactly what is on his mind. Only Love knows if he would be willing to sign an extension in Chicago -- a fact that is crucial in any potential deal. The Bulls, like many teams, won't give up many of their assets only to see Love walk in a year.
If Love doesn't land in Chicago, the Bulls are in even bigger trouble. Forman would likely push harder to land European star Nikola Mirotic, but Mirotic isn't the type of superstar talent who would push the balance of power like Anthony or Love would. The Bulls would try to sell fans on the fact that Rose is coming back and they can add two draft picks to a solid group of players, but fans will see straight through that.
The NBA has always been a players' league, a place where superstar talent wins out more often that not. The reality for the Bulls is that they still don't have enough of it to compete for a championship. Yet again, it appears that Miami might beat them in the high-stakes game of free agency, whether Anthony ends up playing with the Heat or not.
MILWAUKEE -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was posed the question whether he currently is the best center in the Eastern Conference following the Bulls’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
Noah, first, repeated the question. “Am I the best center in the East?” He smiled and laughed. He repeated the question again. “Am I the best center in the East?”
He then began talking, stopped and went on. “I don’t ... I don’t know, man. You tell me, tell me.”
His teammate Luol Deng stood a few feet from Noah and said, “(Heck), yeah. He’s the best center in the East, and I’m not saying that because he’s standing right here.”
MIAMI -- Like the rest of the basketball world, Dwyane Wade figured he and his teammates would be playing the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals right now. Then Derrick Rose's left knee went out and everything changed.
"Obviously, that's what everyone (expected) it to be but we know how the season goes," Wade told ESPNChicago.com after Tuesday afternoon's practice. "You never know what can happen and obviously injuries is a big part of this game for many, many years and it happens and it's the reason why certain teams don't have the year that they was projected to have. So it's unfortunate that because of injuries they're not in the Eastern Conference finals but it is what is right now and we're just hoping for no more injuries in our league period, from this point on."
Wade wasn't alone in his thoughts. His coach, Erik Spoelstra, admitted that even he was a little surprised that it was the Boston Celtics that Heat are now facing for a trip to the Finals, not the Bulls.
"Initially, yeah," Spoelstra said after Tuesday's practice. "And that's why it's a shame. None of else felt good about Rose's injury. As a competitor, you can't feel good about it. You want everybody to be healthy and may the best team win. I think in the back of our minds, just the way we are, we assumed at some point we'd be facing Boston and then Chicago in whatever order at some point during the playoffs."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers felt the same way. He figured his team would have to get through Chicago in order to face Miami in the Eastern Conference finals.
"Yeah, we did," Rivers told ESPNChicago.com. "When Rose went down ... it changed."
Rivers, who counts Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau as a close friend, believes that the emotional blow the Bulls had to deal with was probably too much to overcome.
"It's still a tough blow, just mentally for the team this year," Rivers said. "I thought with the injury in front of the entire crowd and team, I thought that was tough to recover from."
While both players and coaches from the Heat and Celtics hope Rose gets better soon, nobody is feeling sorry for the Bulls. Spoelstra brushed off the notion that the Heat somehow caught a break because of Rose's injury.
"No, nobody's looking at it (like that)," he said. "Everybody has to deal with something. We lost a player that we couldn't win without."
Spoelstra was referring to injured star Chris Bosh.
"For two years (people said) we couldn't win without him."
While the Bosh and Rose comparison is not really the same, Spoelstra's point is the same one he has undoubtedly made to his team.
In the short term, the Bulls, like Spoelstra's Heat, will have to learn to win without one of their superstars for a large chunk of next season. The difference is that Rose, as the cornerstone of a franchise, means much more to the Bulls than Bosh does to the Heat.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said there is no specific injury to either player -- the team is continuing to get its stars rest in advance of the playoffs, which open April 28.
Read the entire story.
Read the entire story.
CHICAGO -- A handful of reporters clustered around the Miami Heat locker room, but the scene was far subdued from the bygone days of 2011.
Chris Bosh stared at his iPad, wearing giant headphones. Dwyane Wade sat and talked to a friendly Chicago reporter about the Bears. LeBron James sat at a locker and listened to loud rap music, sans headphones, with a plastic bottle of ketchup at his feet.
No one bothered them.
Of course, that’s because the so-called “Big Three” have a policy of not speaking to the media before games, just at the morning shoot-around. And since shootarounds are often canceled this season, that takes the hype down a few notches.
“We’re just trying to go out and play basketball,” forward Udonis Haslem said. “Last year the majority of conversations were about us, and it’s kind of hard to get used to sometimes, but I think we’ve kind of settled in.”
But the Heat still get booed wherever they go, and they did Wednesday night at the United Center. LeBron James got booed louder than any opponent this season.
“People still dislike us,” Haslem said with a chuckle.
The Bulls have been open and honest about chasing the Heat this season. The loss in the Eastern Conference finals still stings.
"To beat them you've got to play almost a perfect game," Derrick Rose said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000.
The Bulls had a 2 1/2 game lead in the East going into the teams’ second matchup. So Haslem, the Heat mainstay, doesn’t see it like that.
“No, we don’t look at it as they’re chasing us,” he said. “We look at as they’re the best team in the NBA right now with the best record. They’ve got the reigning MVP. They’re very physical, very good and mentally tough.”
Haslem was surprised when a reporter told him Rose was out -- “Are you sure?” he asked --ut he didn’t think that would make it easy.
"They’ve won without him this year,” he said. “I’ve been watching them closely and those guys have competed without Derrick Rose.”
“Derrick’s an unbelievable player and we have a lot of respect for him, but this team is more than Derrick Rose,” forward Shane Battier said. “They don’t have the best record in the league with just Derrick Rose.”
Battier missed the media circus last season, but unlike Haslem, this kind of attention, however muted, is something new for the erudite Duke grad.
“It’s been dynamic, it’s been dynamic,” Battier said. “It’s been interesting. It’s been a good change for me at this point in my career. It’s a fun challenge.”
During their abbreviated training camp, the Chicago Bulls had exercise bikes facing the projection screen on their practice court, all the better to multi-task while he showed a horror movie.
Thibodeau's film, footage from the team's Eastern Conference finals meltdown, was for mature audiences and it had a distinct purpose.
If the Bulls players tried to avoid thinking about the Miami Heat collapse during their extended hiatus, they couldn't escape the footage of the preening Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as they prepared for their second season as a targeted team with sky-high expectations.
Read the entire column.
MIAMI -- Let's take a quick look at how the Miami Heat earned a 101-93 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena. The Heat lead the series 3-1.
How it happened: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh took over for the Heat in overtime, scoring all of the team's 16 points as the Bulls made uncharacteristically poor decisions in the waning moments, including several head-scratching turnovers. Derrick Rose had 23 points, but he also committed seven turnovers. Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer each had 20 points. The Bulls had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation but Rose air-balled a jumper as the clock ran out. The Bulls will be kicking themselves for not closing this one out when they had the chance.
What it means: The Bulls have said repeatedly that they could gain playoff experience on the fly and that it wasn't as important as many believe. Having watched the Bulls implode in the final minutes, it sounds like the players were just wrong. They couldn't get any shots to fall, and it was clear that James and Wade, two players who had been through the battles of the playoffs, took over the game in overtime and rose to the occasion. Along with Bosh, they made plays when they had to and played lockdown defense on a Bulls team that seemed to wilt under the pressure. The Bulls will learn from this experience, but the series may well be over given how difficult it will be for the Bulls to knock off the Heat three straight times.
Stats of the night: The Bulls outscored the Heat 44-24 in the paint and still lost. The Bulls turned the ball over 19 times. For the first time all year, the Bulls have lost three in a row.
What's next: The Bulls hit the practice floor on Wednesday afternoon and try to get mentally prepared for Game 5 on Thursday night in Chicago.
MIAMI -- Let's take a quick look at how the Miami Heat earned a 96-85 win over the Chicago Bulls in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday night at American Airlines Arena. The Heat lead the series 2-1.
How it happened: Chris Bosh played the best game of his brief Heat career scoring 34 points. LeBron James had 22 points while Dwyane Wade added 17 points. Carlos Boozer had the best game of his postseason run scoring 27 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, but it wasn't enough for the Bulls who had a hard time getting past Miami's defense all night. The Heat were suffocating at times and the Bulls did not have an answer. Derrick Rose had 20 points, but he made several questionable decisions down the stretch and continues to have a hard time getting to the rim against the Miami defense.
What it means: The Bulls are going to kick themselves again. They slowed down James and Wade (at least to a certain extent), but they did not do a good job on Bosh, and it killed them. They couldn't slow him down all night and it was even more magnified given how much Joakim Noah struggled to contribute on both ends of the floor. The larger issue for the Bulls is that the team's offense doesn't look good. Aside from Rose and Boozer, and to a lesser extent, Luol Deng who had 14, the Bulls struggled. The Miami defense is good, but it still doesn't seem as if the Bulls have enough consistent playmakers and that's becoming a bigger issue as each game passes.
Stat of the night: In 29 minutes of play, Noah scored one point, grabbed five rebounds and picked up five fouls.
What's next: The Bulls will practice Monday afternoon in preparation for Game 4 on Tuesday night.
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- After his MVP performance this season, plenty of people have proclaimed that Derrick Rose is now one of the best, if not the best, closers in the game. The 22-year-old is a bit more modest. He says he's still learning when to take over games, although his play may say otherwise.
"It just develops," he said after Tuesday's practice. "I remember I had my rookie and sophomore year just missing shots and hearing about it. You're going to go through that time. I'm still not that person where I can finish a game like that. I'm still learning how to, when to. But you just get used to being in those pressure situations and I love it right now, where if I miss it or if I hit it, I know that I have a lot of confidence to take that shot."
As for all the extra media attention that comes with an Eastern Conference finals matchup with the Miami Heat, Rose says he's adjusting to that as well.
"I'm definitely getting used to it," he said with a smile. "It comes with the territory. Just being able to talk, getting comfortable, so I'm coming along."
Stopping Bosh: The Bulls held LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to just 33 combined points in Game 1, but Chris Bosh had plenty of success scoring 30 of his own. Bulls center Joakim Noah knows he's got to do a better job slowing down Bosh in Game 2.
"We have to do a better job on him, me in particular," Noah said Monday. "He got a lot of easy baskets around the rim. Tip-ins when I was helping off of him. Chris is a helluva player, we just got to try to slow him down a little bit."
Tom Thibodeau never wants to see any player have a big game, but if you gave him the choice of either Bosh having a big game or James and Wade having one, he would take Bosh having one and picking up a win every time.
"It's not so much individually, it's going to be collectively," he said of limiting Bosh. "And because of the things that you have to do to try to commit to James and Wade, sometimes I didn't think we got back to him quick enough, but we got to do that. He's a tough cover because he can shoot, he can put it on the floor, he can post. So he can hurt you a lot of different ways."
The last word: "It's both. I think a lot of it has to do with our defense. We did a lot of stuff out there they didn't expect and I'm sure they're going to be ready for it in [Wednesday's] game. But they're a good team. I think a lot of it also has to do with the momentum. We had the momentum going our way, but our defense did take a lot away from them," -- Deng, on whether it was more his defense or Miami's lack of execution, that caused the Heat's offense to struggle so much at times in Game 1.
Six times in NBA history has an MVP with no other All-Stars on his team played against a team with at least three All-Stars in that season’s playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The team with the multiple All-Stars won five of those six series. Hakeem Olajuwon's Rockets were the only team to win, beating the Knicks in the 1994 NBA Finals.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls players and coaches know that the Miami Heat pose serious threats in their quest to getting to the NBA Finals. The key for Tom Thibodeau and Co. is to focus on the matchups that favor them and take full advantage. Here are five things to keep an eye on as we get set for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday night at the United Center.
2. Who wins the Boozer-Bosh clash? These two don't seem to like each other very much, and that dislike will only intensify in this series. Carlos Boozer has already taken subtle digs at Chris Bosh saying that the Heat only have two superstars. He may be right, but there's little doubt he was trying to tweak Bosh in the process. For the Bulls to win, Boozer must play like he did in Game 6 against the Hawks and provide Rose with some offensive help. He's got to win this matchup against Bosh, since Bosh will most likely guard him throughout the series. If Boozer plays well in this series and gets the best of Bosh, many will look past the fact that he was almost nonexistent over the course of the first two rounds of the playoffs. If he struggles early against Bosh and can't find an offensive rhythm, the boos at the United Center will come out early and often.
3. Have a party, Joakim: Aside from Rose's clear advantage at the point guard position over Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers, the Bulls have another large advantage at center. They have an athletic big man in Joakim Noah who still hasn't hit his stride in the playoffs. Noah should be able to get the best of Joel Anthony and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. At times, Noah has played well, but he hasn't been as consistent as Thibodeau would like over the past week, registering no points in Game 5 against the Hawks. There's no reason Noah can't average a double-double in this series. He is a more skilled offensive player than Anthony, and he can move up and down the floor much faster than Ilgauskas. If he defends Bosh the same way he did in the regular season, the Bulls should be on their way to a series victory.
5. Slowing down James and Wade: Thibodeau started laughing when the topic of stopping James came up on Saturday. He knows his players won't be able to stop him completely, he just wants them to make things as tough as possible for him. Same goes for Wade. The Bulls know that both players will get theirs; they just want to stop everybody else. It sounds a lot like the same strategy the Bulls used against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic earlier this season: allow Howard to get his points, but close off everything else. The key for the Bulls is not allowing James and Wade to get anything easy in transition. Once they do that, they have even more confidence to attack the rim. Run them off screens, stay in their face, and wear them out over the course of 48 minutes. The onus will be on Deng, Keith Bogans and Brewer to slow down the Heat's dynamic duo. If they do the job, the Bulls will be headed to the NBA Finals.
The Bulls lead the NBA in opponents' field-goal percentage (.424) and are third in the league in fewest average points allowed (91.9), but Scalabrine said the key to success in the playoffs is how a team defends at the rim.
"I know in my opinion we have some guys on this team that can play at a championship level. I just have to see our team as a whole," the Bulls reserve forward said Thursday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I've got to see our team ... how do we respond to Orlando and Dwight Howard, and how do you respond when you see Miami, and I want to see LeBron James and Dwyane Wade at the same time. Can we challenge all the shots at the rim and make it tough for them?
"The playoffs is about, at the end of the day, your bigs have to be able to contest shots at the rim and make guys miss at the rim. Obviously, you have to control the pick and roll, but there's going to be 20 possessions where a guy is going to turn the corner and get to the basket. We need to be able to stop guys at the rim without them fouling. If we can do that then I feel like we are a championship-caliber team. Offensively, because we have Derrick [Rose]'s ability, we'll be able to play offensively in the playoffs."
After a 106-88 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night, the Bulls are tied with the Miami Heat for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The first season of the superstar teaming of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh started slow but the Heat are still 20 games over .500.
Even with the super trio, the Heat's lack of big post players might hurt them, Scalabrine said.
"I have to give Miami some credit because I know what their level of talent is. I know what LeBron James can do, and I know what Dwyane Wade can do. I think [a lack of size] does hurt them," Scalabrine said. "I think in the regular season you can go small, you can play small ball. I'm a big believer that in the playoffs you have to have size. You have to have a rebounding frontcourt that can challenge layups, get rebounds and set hard screens.
"I don't know if they have it. Maybe they do, maybe they don't. If you compare them to Boston or even if you compare their frontline size to us, I just don't see how they have that size. But they have LeBron James which is in and of itself a special guy."
"What do you do now?" Spoelstra said after Saturday’s shoot around. "I mean, seriously, when a guy who can attack like that and get to the rim and the paint, and compromise your defense so much, pretty much when he wants to go, he's that quick and explosive. And then if he's shooting threes, the gameplan has to change. For two years, it was meet him under the 3-point line and give him those shots and bait him into that. Now he'll make you pay enough. It's not like he's shooting one a game, he's shooting four of them a game. So it's not an accident he's shooting that percentage. But it still has to remain your key to try to limit his paint attacks, which is much easier said than done."
"They're a very good defensive team," Spoelstra said. "RIght now, they're the best defensive team in the league. And that's what we want to be. That's what we're still striving to be. They've been getting in a great flow offensively. Their point guard is having an MVP year. Their power forward is playing as well as anybody, giving them a great inside-out threat. And other guys are fitting in, and the pieces fit. They're playing very good basketball and we respect them for that."
Heat guard Dwayne Wade knows that the Bulls have improved a lot since the last time he saw them, especially Chicago's 22-year-old All-Star point guard.
"The biggest thing, I look at D. Rose play, just the confidence that he's playing with," Wade said. "Confidence is so key. In life, but especially in the game of basketball. Watching him the other night against Indiana, the way he's shooting the pull up three is like -- I thought it would take him a couple more years before he get that confident shooting. But he's just confident in his overall game.”
Bosh remembers Swirsky's visit: Heat forward Chris Bosh received plenty of recruiting pitches over the summer, but there couldn't have been many that were as unique as the first one he received from the Bulls. That's because Bulls radio play-by-play man Chuck Swirsky flew to Bosh's home outside of Dallas to personally deliver a sales pitch at Bosh's doorstep at 11:01 CT, the first moment free agents could officially start speaking with teams. Swirsky, the former play-by-play voice of the Toronto Raptors, knew Bosh since he was drafted by the Raptors in 2003 and was excited to be the first person to get a chance to speak with the coveted free agent. It's a meeting that Bosh remembered fondly.
"Ol' Chuck, man," Bosh said with a smile. "That was funny. We spoke for a brief minute, reminisced a little bit about Toronto days, and he went on his way."
What did Swirsky's pitch consist of?
"Winning," Bosh said. "It was all the same, man. It was all the same [as what Bulls management would say later]. Chuck is just a really excited guy ... about anything. If you talk about anything, he's just happy. You can't help but feel good. It's like, 'What's up, Chris?’ ‘What's up, Chuck? What's going on? How you doing?’ It just puts a smile on your face."
Despite Bosh's decision to join the Heat, the pair remains close. Swirsky's daughter, Kara, continues to bake Bosh chocolate chip cookies before some games, a tradition she started while he was in Toronto.
The last word: Dwyane Wade, on discussing whether he was going to stay for the Bears' playoff game on Sunday (he's not), and feeling cold in the United Center.
"My blood is so thin," he said. "I'm freezing. I got to get out of here."