Tuesday Recap (May 2)
HEAT/BULLS (Game 5):
- The Heat came out from the start much more alert on both ends of the floor. They were intent on getting Shaq going early and he responded by drawing fouls often. But he was missing his free throws badly. On the other side, the Bulls were looking to take the ball at Shaq, trying to get him in foul trouble, which eventually worked. Although, the Bulls could not respond on the offensive end because their shots just were not falling.
- I thought this was easily the best performance on defense by the Heat in the series, especially in the 2nd half (Bulls shot 34.7%). They did a fairly good job on cutting off driving lanes which had been killing them. They did especially good job on Hinrich on the screen/rolls by not letting him turn the corner so unobstructed. I thought this was key because Hinrich has been doing a superb job probing the defense with his dribble and creating great shots for the Bulls (Hinrich ended with only 5 assists & 6 TOs). They also did a pretty good job harassing Gordon as well.
- The Heat should have easily cruised to victory but were self-destructing at the free throw line. They could not complain today about getting to the line (41 times to 30 for Bulls) but they missed 19 ft attempts, mostly Shaq & Walker.
- I think the Bulls will be kicking themselves for not taking advantage in the 3rd quarter. Wade was in the locker room and Shaq was on the bench with foul trouble but the Bulls could not build a cushion. Mostly cause they could not get any consistency on the offensive end. They built a small 5-6 point lead in the middle of the period, but then Wade re-emerged and the Heat rebounded to tie the score 61-61 at the end of the 3rd. You also have to give credit to Walker for helping the Heat stay close by eschewing his usual chucker mentality for tough drives.
- The Bulls had another strong showing defensively, that wasn't really their problem. It was their disjointed play on offense that cost them the game. They really could not get good dribble penetration (thanks in part to the Heat's improved effort) which sets up their good looks--they were only 4-16 from 3pt land. 19 turnovers did not help their cause much either.
- The Heat need to continue this type of defensive effort vs. the Bulls for success in this series. The Bulls need to continue to take the ball right at Shaq & try to draw fouls on him.
SUNS/LAKERS (Game 5):
- The Suns came flying out of the gates again which has been their M.O. the whole series. But last night they finally put together a 2nd quarter up to their standards--29 points. They rode this momentum the entirety of the game and kept a comfortable cushion of points between themselves & the Lakers.
- I think the big key to the Suns' victory was their ability not to get dominated in the painted area. For the second game in a row, the Suns held their own in the paint--48 points/paint to 42 for LA, only -1 on the boards, 12 off. rebs. to 5 for LA. This is a must for the Suns to do in Game 6 as well.
- Boris Diaw definitely helped the Suns' damage in the paint--25 points, 10 rebs., 9 asst., 11-11 fts. He was aggressive in the paint something that the Suns looked to attack much more then they are accustomed to. They looked like they were making a concerted effort not to settle for jumpers quite as much.
- I thought the Suns once again did a good job on keeping multiple guys around Kobe on the perimeter forcing tough looks for him. I also think that the Suns probably did their best job guarding the post in the series, especially in the 2nd half. I mean they were not great (Lakers still shot 51.4%, Odom shot 7-14, Kwame shot 6-6), but I thought they did their best job of pushing the Lakers big men off their spots for certain instances. I thought their doubles were the most effective they've been in the paint so far. Not great but solid by their standards.
- On the other hand, the Lakers played putrid defense. Their rotations were extremely slow, leaving some truly wide open looks & some bad situations in screen/roll plays. They gave up 12 offensive rebounds to the Suns which is just unexceptable.
- The Lakers offense was pretty uneven as well. Playing thru the post was again working pretty sweet in the 1st half. But they sort of abandoned that gameplan in the 2nd half when trying to mount a comeback. The Lakers also commited 18 TOs to 8 TOs by Suns. There is a difference of 10 possessions right there. Add that to the 7 extra possessions LA gave the Suns with off. rebounds and you see where the Suns came up with 16 more field goal attempts. You just can't afford to give an offensive juggernaut like the Suns 16 more attempts & hope to pull out a win.
- For Game 6, the Lakers have to pound the post all game. Simple as that. They have to take back control of the paint & not let the Suns compete with them on the offensive boards. Do not give the Suns extra possessions.
NETS/PACERS (Game 5):
- Well the Pacers got the tempo they wanted but not having Peja, Tinsley or Foster was just too tough of an obstacle to overcome. New Jersey continued to play great defense-- holding the Pacers to 42% & being able to concentrate on O'Neal cause of the depleted roster.
- Vince seems to have a firm understanding what playoff intensity is all about now--34 pts, 15 rbs and taking the ball to the hoop with a purpose.
- You can see why Carlisle is a great coach by keeping the Pacers close in the series. The Pacers only lost by 6 points on the road without 3 starters, getting outrebounded by 13, & giving up 25 fast break points. Their style may not be pretty but the Pacers under Carlisle always compete hard in the playoffs-- often with a myriad of injuries and internal issues. All this talk that his job should be in jeopardy is insane. This guy has been dealt a raw deal for two straight years and his teams still compete as hard as any in the playoffs. Also, he's as tight with Bird as any GM/Coach combo in the league. Unless you have direct quotes from Bird himself these rumors mean jack squat.
- I really think the Pacers need to consider forcing the Nets to be jumpshooters in Game 6. The Nets did not shoot well from 3 pt. range once again. Making Carter & Jefferson shooters is smart gameplan if you can pull it off.
SPURS/KINGS (Game 5):
- The Kings once again showed moxie by not backing down from the defending champs but the Spurs were a little too much at home. Getting Manu back involved in the playoff festivities was crucial to the Spurs victory. The Spurs took a cue from the Kings and flipped the script and started to attack the paint themselves.
- The Spurs got back to controlling the painted area--10+ in the rebound battle, 44 pts. in the paint to 28 for Kings, & the typical Spurs defense showed up (Kings 44.2%). Although, Bonzi kept up his playoff tear--38 pts., 12 rbs., 13 for 20 from the field & 3 for 3 from 3 pt. land.
- Mike Bibby's clutch reputation is somewhat overrated. Yeah, he's a good spot-up shooter, but he really is reliant on screens & having others set him up for shots in-between. His persona was embellished by the presence of Webber & Divac setting him up with great passes & them setting screens for him. With them gone, he's not quite as spectacular. He also is nothing special of a passer and he's always been a pitiful defender.