Friday, November 1, 2013

Rose Hits Game Winner in Halloween Night (Sort of) Thriller

By Sean Mackey

The Bulls edged out the New York Knicks on Halloween Night winning 82-81. Derrick Rose lead the way with 18 points including the game winning floater over former Bull, Tyson Chandler. Luol Deng had a solid game with 17 points and 6 assists. Joakim Noah also tallied 6 points and 15 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony lead the Knicks with 22 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.

I caught this game the beginning of the 2nd half and man, it was super sloppy. So many turnovers and missed shots. The Bulls were 2-15 in the 4th quarter with Rose sinking the only field goals. It looked pretty evident that the Bulls were going to blow this one but Rose redeemed himself with the game winner after missing 5 or so shots in a row.

It was nice to see not quite as many fouls called and the Bulls actually holding a lead for most of the game but they looked really bad in the 4th quarter. Overall, a pretty unmemorable game with a great ending.

The Bulls get their first look at rookie Michael Carter Williams when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers tomorrow night. The game is nationally broadcasted on NBA-TV at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Heat Blow Out Bulls in Season Opener 107-95

By Sean Mackey

Chicago fell to the Miami Heat on ring night 107-95 after a complete first half collapse. Early foul trouble for Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng left the Bulls without any primary defenders for nearly the entire 2nd quarter. This lead to a complete onslaught of turnovers, bad shots and three pointers from the likes of Ray Allen, Norris Cole and Shane Battier. The Heat went on a 31-5 run before ending the half with a 21 point lead. The Bulls eventually came back in the 4th quarter to cut the lead to 8, however a three pointer from Miami put them back up by double digits permanently.

Derrick Rose looked decent but rusty throughout the whole contest. After the Bulls won the opening tip, Rose had the ball stolen by Mario Chalmers almost immediately which lead to an Udonis Haslem dunk. The Heat then proceeded to trap Rose near the sideline during the Bulls second possession. Rose shot a dismal 1-7 from the three point stripe and 4-15 overall finishing with 12 points, 4 assists and 5 turnovers.

The only bright spot for Chicago was the play of Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler. Boozer finished with 31 points on 13-18 shooting, 5-5 on free throws and 7 rebounds. While Butler got in early foul trouble, he picked things up in the 2nd half finishing with 20 points and 5 steals. Butler's defensive intensity was the only thing keeping the Bulls in the game towards the end.

Newcomer Mike Dunleavy looked awful and finished shooting 3-9 after getting some really good and not so good looks.  Dunleavy fumbled the ball on several passes which lead to Miami closing him out on the perimeter before he could shoot. Joakim Noah came back from a groin injury and finished with 2 points and 11 rebounds, being an almost non-factor on the defensive end. Noah seemed out of rhythm the entire game and his lack of playing time during the pre-season really showed. Kirk Hinrich fouled out during the 4th quarter finishing  with 6 points and 6 assists. Luol Deng was also a non-factor scoring 4 points in 29 minutes.  During the 2nd quarter scoring draught, Tom Thibodeau was so desperate for a spark that he put rookie, Tony Snell in the game. LeBron James then proceeded to run right around Snell for an easy lay up.

Overall this was just a bad game for the Bulls. 48 fouls were called throughout the contest and threw the whole game out of sync. Some of the fouls were just, some were questionable. During the 3rd quarter there was a sequence of 3 or 4 fouls in a row that all lead to free throws slowing the game down to an almost complete stop. The Bulls late run in 4th kept dragging my attention back to the game but every time a glimmer of hope happened, another 3 pointer at the other end did as well.  Jimmy Butler is going to be a great addition to this starting lineup however, the Bulls need to figure out a way for him and Deng to play together effectively. Butler will likely have several fouls every game due to his defensive steals but Deng is going to need to play more solid.  Deng's play this season is detrimental to him getting a $14 million per year salary like he wants. I doubt the Bulls will trade him but letting him go for nothing would be terrible.

The Bulls home opener is Thursday night when they host the New York Knicks at 8:00 p.m. on TNT.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bulls Go 8-0 in the Preseason + 2013-14 Season Predictions

By Sean Mackey

The one month drudgery of the pre season is finally complete. While the 8 games meant absolutely nothing, the Bulls looked focused on all levels and came out undefeated for only the 3rd time in franchise history. Derrick Rose is alive, well and looks hungrier than ever along with a Bulls team that has been marred by injuries over the past 3 years. In a season that will likely be the last together for the core roster, Chicago will look to make the most of every opportunity.

While Derrick Rose played in all but one pre season contest, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich missed several games. While it's nice to build some chemistry during the pre-season, it was also important not to rush any of these guys back (which thankfully they didn't). Here's some minor observations from the Bulls 8 game pre season.

5 Observations From the Bulls Pre Season

1. D-Rose is back, and possibly better than ever!

For a player being away from game for 18 months, Derrick Rose sure looked great. D-Rose shot a remarkable .444 from the 3-point stripe and was driving into traffic regularly on every play. I was a little concerned that he may have lost some of his speed but that surely wasn't the case. D-Rose drove at will into the much larger defenders, was occasionally fouled hard and got right back up to do it again. He's back to his all-star form and is ready to prove all doubters wrong.

2. Taj Gibson!

While it sucked to see Noah sit all but one game, the pre season gave Taj Gibson a chance to get his grove back after a lackluster 2012-13 campaign. Gibson led the team in rebounds and generally looked fantastic on both ends of the court. With injuries seemingly always lingering with Noah, I anticipate Gibson will play big minutes this season. If he comes out with the same energy we saw over the last month, watch for Thibs to rely on him a little more than in the past. Considering Nazr Mohammed's age, he'll likely be playing center in smaller lineups quite often.

3. Jimmy Butler is going to have another breakout season.

The weakest link from the Bulls playoff battles over the last few years has always been the shooting guard position. From Keith Bogans to the ghost of Richard Hamilton, as of late the Bulls haven't really had a shooting guard who can both shoot the ball and play defense. Jimmy Butler worked his way off the bench last season into some ridiculous playoff performances last season. Now with Jimmy Butler as a starter, the Bulls have a very talented back court that rivals the likes of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

4. Mike Dunleavy is looking like a free agency steal.

I've never been much of a Dunleavy fan over the years. I know during a few dark seasons, he was the best player on Indiana's roster. After several injuries and a contract with the Bucks, Dunleavy turned down big money to come play in Chicago. He looked REALLY good in the pre season. The guy can shoot the lights out from the corners and is an underrated passer. He's going to fit this roster like a glove.

5. Kirk Hinrich is injured about every other game.

I love Kirk Hinrich. The year he was drafted was the year I started watching Bulls basketball again regularly after a 5 year hiatus. However, Hinrich seems to get injured at the wrong time on a regular basis. When he plays, he's great. He still shoots the three ball well and is ridiculously intense on defense (COUGH! LEBRON TACKLE) but this dude needs to be healthy for the playoffs. Hinrich bumped his head on Erik Murphy's knee in the pre season and was out the next few games with a concussion. It's always something! Look for rookie, Tony Snell to play his way into the rotation and take over some of Captain Kirk's minutes injuries continue (and they will).

2013-14 NBA Season Predictions

If Chicago is going to win a title, this is the year. They're really the only team that's equipped to take down the Heat. If they fall short again, Deng will likely be lost in free agency, Boozer will be amnestied and Euro stud Nikola Mirotic will finally be brought over. Honestly, that all may happen regardless of the team winning a title however, I'm confident barring another injury to a starting five player, this is the Bulls year.

Eastern Conference Standings

1. Chicago Bulls
2. Miami Heat
3. Brooklyn Nets
4. Indiana Pacers
5. New York Knicks
6. Atlanta Hawks
7. Detroit Pistons
8. Washington Wizards
9. Cleveland Cavaliers
10. Boston Celtics
11. Milwaukee Bucks
12. Toronto Raptors
13. Charlotte Bobcats
14. Orlando Magic
15. Philadelphia 76ers

Western Conference Standings

1. Los Angeles Clippers
2. San Antonio Spurs
3. Golden State Warriors
4. Houston Rockets
5. Oklahoma City Thunder
6. Los Angeles Lakers
7. Memphis Grizzlies
8. Minnesota Timberwolves
9. Portland Trail Blazers
10. Denver Nuggets
11. Dallas Mavericks
12. Sacramento Kings
13. New Orleans Pelicans
14. Utah Jazz
15. Phoenix Suns

Eastern Conference Finals
Bulls over Heat in 7 games

Western Conference Finals
LA Clippers over Houston Rockets in 6 games

NBA Finals
Bulls over LA Clippers in 6 games

Most Valuable Player
Derrick Rose

Defensive Player of the Year
Dwight Howard

6th Man of the Year
Andrei Kirilenko

Most Improved Player
Andre Drummond

Rookie of the Year
Victor Oladipo

Coach of the Year
Doc Rivers

Friday, August 9, 2013

Analyzing the Bulls 2013-14 NBA Schedule (Top 10 games to watch)

That's right, stay down...bitch.'s been a while. is no more so I've migrated back to the old blog for now. Between a Derrick Rose-less season and a larger work load at my job I was unable to muster up enough energy to care about the last 94 games of Bulls basketball. The playoffs were fun but excruciating to watch. Part of me wanted them to miss the playoffs completely, part of me wanted the miracle death march to continue into the Conference Finals. It was very conflicting.

Nonetheless, the Bulls continue forward with a supposedly healthy Derrick Rose (and Joakim Noah). It can be said that a lot is riding on this season in a Central Division that just got a whole lot better. In the past 6 months, the Pacers have somewhat became America's chosen team to dethrone the Miami Heat. Former ESPN NBA analyst, Chris Sheridan went as far as to rank them #2 in his power rankings (NUMBER FREAKING 2!). It seems everyone has forgotten how good the Bulls really are. With the addition of a healthy Derrick Rose, an improved Jimmy Butler along with free agent acquisition Mike Dunleavy Jr. and rookie Tony Snell, the Bulls are immediately better than last season. Not to mention the stunning summer league play of Marquis Teague (OMG he might not be a bust!) and a new pair of plantar fasciitis supporting kicks for Joakim Noah!

With Deng in a contract year, the possible future amnesty of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah proving he can stay healthy for a whole season, I imagine this is likely the last hurrah for this team if they fail to get past the Miami Heat in the playoffs. With that being said I'm looking forward to the Bulls proving doubters wrong and getting back in the saddle to finish what they started 3 years ago.

For once, the Bulls look as if they have a pretty decent schedule this year with about 4 less back to backs as usual and a pretty winnable circus trip in November (I'm guessing they'll win 4 out of 6). Once again, the Bulls are in the spotlight starting on day one with the first game of the NBA season taking place in Miami against the defending champs. They've also been "awarded" another Christmas Day game, this year against the new look Brooklyn Nets. Chicago has a lot of games towards the end of the season however, with the exception of 1 Miami Heat game and a couple against the Pacers, they have a pretty easy last four weeks of the season. The last 8 games in April are particularly winnable.

Chicago has a league tied (with New York) 33 nationally televised games along with 20 additional games (if your cable operator carries WGN America). Give or take a few overlapping WGN/NBA-TV games along with some fan voted Tuesday games, we're likely looking at over 50 broadcasted games, which is awesome (especially if you refuse to pay an outrageous $120.00 for League Pass Broadband).

Chicago Bulls KY's Top 10 Must Watch Nationally Televised Games:

#1. 10/28/13 vs. the Miami Heat (TNT, 8:00 p.m.) - First NBA game of the season! This is also Heat ring night! Boooo...but way back in 2006, the Bulls famously destroyed the Heat by 42 points on ring night. It actually set an NBA record for largest margin of defeat by a title defending team on opening night. Kirk Hinrich had 26 points and the NBA was introduced to Tyrus Thomas who received a nice "welcome to the NBA" broken nose. I hope this game can be as special however, I doubt it.

#2. 11/6/13 vs. the Indiana Pacers (TNT, 7:00 p.m.) - The Pacers made huge strides last season taking the Miami Heat to 7 games even without their aging former star player, Danny Granger. It was a breakout year for Paul George and he's looking to take his team to the next level. With the additions of Luis Scula and a healthy Danny Granger, this team is going to make the Central Division and the Eastern Conference very tough. Not to mention, there's been bad blood with these guys and the Bulls since that infamous 5 game series back in 2011. This will really be a good measuring stick to see if the Bulls still got it.

#3. 11/21/13 vs. the Denver Nuggets (TNT, 10:30 p.m.) - First game of the circus trip! Also, Nate Robinson returns! I'm usually on vacation during this point in November, so these games are extra fun since I can actually afford to stay up late and watch the whole game. Denver had a great run last season. They reminded me a lot of that overachieving 2007 Bulls squad who lost to Detroit in the Eastern Conference Semi Finals. Last season Denver was a fun to watch, young team who were about 2 pieces away from being great. It's crazy to see a guy like George Karl win Coach of the Year and get canned at the end of the season. After winning a franchise best 57 games last season, Denver flamed out in the playoffs due to injuries. With Brian Shaw taking over for George Karl and the loss of Andre Iguodala (who I've always thought was a little overrated), it'll be interesting to see where this team goes.

#4. 12/5/13 vs. the Miami Heat (TNT, 9:30 p.m.) - Miami's first visit to the United Center this season. Don't act like you won't be watching.

#5. 12/18/13 vs. the Houston Rockets (ESPN, 9:30 p.m.) - The Bulls visit the new look Houston Rockets. I'm actually very excited to watch this team play. I hate all of the bullshit Dwight Howard put the fans of Orlando and Los Angeles through over the past 3 seasons but I always thought the Rockets would be a great destination for him to rebuild his career. Loaded with arguably the best shooting guard in the game today, James Harden, a competent point guard, Jeremy Lin and an improved Chandler Parsons, this team reminds me A LOT of the 1994-95 Orlando Magic. It's also nice having Omer Asik as a freakin' back up center. This team could be scary good if they don't goof off.

#6. 12/21/13 vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA-TV, 8:00 p.m.) - Wow, there are a lot of good/tough games the first 2 months of play and the Cavs are definitely on the Bulls radar.  Cleveland was able to land the #1 pick in the 2013 draft and chose forward Anthony Bennett (who?). Along with the uncertain addition of former all-star Andrew Bynum, a returning Anderson Varejao and an improved Dion Waiters this team could be very good. They could also land in the lottery next season, not quite sure yet.

#7. 12/25/13 vs. the Brooklyn Nets (ESPN, 12:00 p.m.) - Christmas games are always fun however, the Bulls have been known to suck during matinee contests. I don't know what it is but they always look tired and uninterested. Regardless, the Brooklyn Nets will be out for blood after the Bulls knocked them out of the playoffs last season. Locked and loaded with a league high $80 million payroll, the Nets are ready to make a title push. Will it work? I doubt it. Garnett, Pierce and J. Johnson will all be injured at some point during the season and will miss several games. Plus, Jason Kidd weaseled his way into a coaching position he had no business taking over. Good thing they have Lawrence Frank backing him up after he gets fired mid-season.

#8. 1/20/14 vs. the L.A. Lakers (TNT, 8:00 p.m.) - Kobe should be back by this time from his gruesome Achilles heel injury last season. The Lakers are such a cluster f*ck right now. I don't know where they go from here. I'm willing to bet that Mike D'antoni will be gone by the time they meet the Bulls the first time this season.

#9. 3/9/14 vs. the Miami Heat (ABC, 1:00 p.m.) - I love Sunday games after football season ends. So much sports talk is dedicated to the NFL during their 7 month season and by this time, the only sport that is on is the NBA. This is the last meeting the Bulls have with Miami until (possibly) the playoffs. It'll be interesting to see who takes this one. Around this time last season, the Bulls beat the Heat and broke a very large win streak....seriously, you would have thought we won a title or something. It was THAT big of a deal.

#10. 3/24/14 vs. the Indiana Pacers (NBA-TV, 8:00 p.m.) - The Bulls and Pacers final meeting of the season. This game will likely have huge playoff seeding implications if things get tight (they will) in the Central Division.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2012-13 NBA Season Predictions

The 2012-13 NBA season officially kicks off tonight. Unfortunately, LeBron James is getting his first ring and Derrick Rose has to watch it on TV like the rest of us. Hopefully that image is burned into his brain forever and can use it to re-fuel his fire during rehab and toward the end of the season.

The Bulls open their season tomorrow night at home against the Sacramento Kings. With so much uncertainty ahead, it's questionable how the Bulls will respond without their star player for most of the year ahead. Thankfully, Chicago has been granted one of the easier schedules this season. The circus trip alone looks far less daunting than in years past. Regardless, it's going to be an upward climb if the Bulls want to win the Central Division or let alone make the playoffs.

Usually when I do my yearly predictions I include the playoffs as well. However, I'm not even going to attempt that until the end of the regular season. Too much stuff can happen in 82 games to even start breaking down playoff match ups. Below are my predictions for the 2012-13 season....and yes, I believe Chicago will still be semi-decent and make the playoffs.

Eastern Conference Final Standings

1. Miami Heat
2. Boston Celtics
3. New York Knicks
4. Chicago Bulls
5. Indiana Pacers
6. Brooklyn Nets
7. Philadelphia 76er's
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
9. Washington Wizards
10. Milwaukee Bucks
11. Atlanta Hawks
12. Detroit Pistons
13. Toronto Raptors
14. Charlotte Bobcats
15. Orlando Magic

Western Conference Final Standings

1. Oklahoma City Thunder
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. San Antonio Spurs
4. Los Angeles Clippers
5. Memphis Grizzlies
6. Dallas Mavericks
7. Utah Jazz
8. Minnesota Timberwolves
9. Denver Nuggets
10. Sacramento Kings
11. New Orleans Hornets
12. Golden State Warriors
13. Houston Rockets
14. Portland Trail Blazers
15. Phoenix Suns

Award Predictions

MVP: LeBron James (Miami Heat)
Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard (Los Angeles Lakers)
6th Man of the Year: J.R. Smith (New York Knicks)
Rookie of the Year: Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets)
Most Improved Player: Enes Kanter (Utah Jazz)

The NBA season opens tonight on TNT at 8:00 p.m. EST with a rematch of last season's conference finals between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics. This game is followed by the Mavericks/Lakers game. If you're super hardcore and have DirectTV, NBA League Pass is free until 11/7 and you can watch the Washington Wizards/Cleveland Cavaliers game at 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bulls Hold On to Defeat Grizzlies 92-88 in Preseason Opener

By Sean Mackey

The shooting was poor and the passing was sloppy, but the Bulls were able to overcome a late game scoring drought to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 92-88 in their preseason opener Tuesday night. Luol Deng looked great, leading both teams in scoring with 18 points and 4 rebounds. New (old) back up center, Nazr Mohammed came away with a double-double off the bench with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Joakim Noah looked like he was back to his old self tallying 10 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Jerome Jordan came off the bench to lead the way for the Grizzlies with 13 points. Former Bulls scrub, Flip Murray chipped in 11 points off the bench as well.

I fortunately walked in during the huge 32-13 3rd quarter run which inevitably won the game for Chicago. It was nice to see how well Kirk Hinrich was running the floor with Noah, Deng and Rip. However, every time I see Noah run the floor now I get really nervous and think about that gruesome 90 degree ankle twist he had during the 1st round 76er’s game last season. Noah has to stay healthy if the Bulls want any sort of chance at the playoffs this season. I thought Nazr Mohammed played decently from what I could see (Stacey King already has nicknamed him “Nasty Nazr”). He seemed like he was in great shape and was getting back on defense as fast as he could during any sort of turnover situation (and there were a lot of those).

The Bulls shot a ridiculously terrible 1-21 in the final 12 minutes of the game. While Taj Gibson looked great defensively, he was just 1-7 from the field. He had a few hiccups including trying to save a ball that went right back to Memphis. Thibodeau let him have it during the time out for that mess up. Jimmy Butler played almost 25 minutes and went a disgusting 1-12 from the field. The rookie from Kentucky, Marquis Teague played just 3 minutes and had 2 turnovers and a foul. I know he came from a great program and looked decent in the tournament last year but I’m pretty sure he’s going to be buried on the bench this season. Nate Robinson will almost certainly be the second string point guard until Rose’s return. He showed moments of promise and hit all 6 of his free throws.

The Bulls were only able to stay in this game by their defense and by going 30-39 on free throws. The 4th quarter was one of the most dismal efforts I’ve ever seen in a game. Memphis trimmed the lead to 3 before hucking up a terrible shot for which Gibson thankfully grabbed the rebound and the game was over. I know it was just the first preseason game of the year but it looks like the new bench is going to need a lot of work.

The Bulls play again Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Hopefully they can tweak some of their issues and forget this game ever happened.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bulls Open Preseason Against Grizzlies Tonight; Mirotic Impresses in NBA Debut

The Chicago Bulls open their preseason tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies. This game will mark the return of longtime Bulls fan favorite, Kirk Hinrich along with what the media is already dubbing "Bench Mob 2.0". It also marks the beginning of what will likely be a long season without Bullsformer MVP and star player, Derrick Rose. Here's a look at the probable starters for tonight's game:

PG: Kirk Hinrich
SG: Richard Hamilton
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Joakim Noah

PG: Mike Conley
SG: Tony Allen
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: Zach Randolph
C: Marc Gasol

Note: Joakim Noah has been MIA the last few days days of training camp due to the death of his grandmother. He'll most likely be a game time decision, but I have a feeling he'll still start.

It'll be interesting to see how well players such as Nate Robinson, Marco Bellinelli and Vladimir Radmonovic play under Tom Thibodeau's defensive schemes. Kyle Korver wasn't much of a defender until playing under Thibodeau. I'd like to think he's a much more servicable player after his two years with the Bulls. It'll also be interesting to see how well Bulls rookie, Marquis Teague plays after his terrible showing during the NBA Summer League.

The Grizzlies won their first preseason game against Real Madrid last Saturday night. Rudy Gay put up a dominating 27 points. Mike Conley looked excellent as well with 18 points and 8 assists. To most NBA fans, this game was just a preseason scrimmage against some lame international competition. However, this game was also the first look at future Bulls draftee Nikola Mirotic. The future 21 year old prospect put up 14 points and grabbed 7 boards. Mirotic was good enough for Zach Randolph to acknowledge his game and earned him some praise from the 11 year vet.

“I like him,” Randolph said. “I told Marc (Gasol) he can shoot the ball. I was asking how old he was. He’s just 21. The kid’s got a real upside. He can play in the NBA.”

Mirotic followed up his performance last night with a 17 point, 12 rebound game in another losing effort, this time against the Toronto Raptors. Former Bull John Lucas III lit up Real Madrid scoring 16 points off the bench going 7-10 from the field. The Bulls are expected to bring over Mirotic at the beginning of the 2014-15 season.

The Bulls preseason debut against the Memphis Grizzlies will be nationally televised on NBA-TV tonight at 8:00 p.m.