Notes from TNT’s Exclusive Coverage of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals Sunday, May 16, 2011: Bulls Taj Gibson Miami In Game 1
This was one of two incredible Taj Gibson dunks that defined the game
Game 1: Miami Heat (82) @ Chicago Bulls (103); The Bulls lead the series 1-0.
When covering games, there’s a final box sheet passed around before writers walk into coaching pressers and also in locker rooms. Usually there’s a stat that highlights itself and subsequently becomes many of the press conference questions. It might be a free throw disparity or rebounding edge or difference in shooting percentages from inside and outside the three point line. In the box score for Game 1, there was only the three point difference that jumped out for this was a plain ole butt whuppin’. All credit goes to Chicago. The MVP did what he was supposed to do and so did the rest of his team. Taj Gibson…man…
He had a modest 9 points but four of them were monster. The putback dunk was great in any era and in any game I’ve ever seen.
Rose had 28 and seemed to hit shots in pretty fashion (think that floater off glass late). They ran pick and rolls well, seemed to get every rebound, hit every three and emphatically dunk every dunk. Bench players scored. Luol Deng played great defense. The lost art of basic ball denial was in supreme order. Joakim Noah has a distinct advantage with his hustle, size and ability to guard whoever is in front of him. As a result, Chicago was able to close the lane and prohibit Wade and James from getting out on the break. There was no decided Miami run. The Bulls weren’t afraid of Miami. Every player contributed with fire and purpose. A number one seed should be fearless and it showed in every aspect of the game. Miami was thumped. There’s nothing to be done but regroup. If Miami doesn’t do something about what is going on down low, this series will be over quick. I picked the Heat in five and because I’m true to my game, I will stick with my prediction. LeBron has come to far to go out like a chump despite seemingly the entire world wanting him personally to lose….and lose very badly.
The Heat tried to trap. The Heat tried to run. The Heat tried all kinds of lineups. LeBron picked up two fouls in the first quarter, never recovered, shot 5-14 and scored a mere 15 points. Wade was 7-17 for 18, Bosh was a stellar 12-18 for 30.
Look at the box score below. Miami shot 47% to Chicago’s 43%. Free throws were a wash. Defense was the difference. Fire was nothing Heat hot. Chicago were the Bulls seeing red. They got to every ball. The crowd was loud. The Bulls won, but remember…
This was only one game. The Heat steal Game 2 and the tide decidedly shifts…
I fully expected the Bulls to come out tonight like a beast.
Miami has more experience. The Bulls have more overall talent…and they’re deep. Will they gonna freeze up late? I refuse to think the Heat are done after one game despite the obviously advantages the Bulls have. Two great players aren’t gonna have two nights in a row off. Look for both to get off Wednesday night and Bosh as well.
Heat haters are loving this. Chill with that. No one on Miami killed anybody. Relax. It’s just sports right?
Found it very interesting Webber, Barkley and Smith all picked Chicago. Check it below…
TNT’s coverage of the 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Finals continues on Wednesday, May 18 at 8:30 p.m. (ET).
Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber
Johnson asking for predictions from Barkley, Smith and Webber:
Webber: “Chicago in seven.”
Smith: “Chicago in six.”
Barkley: “I hate to agree with these guys but Chicago in seven.”
Reggie Miller on what to expect in the series: “When the Big Three are together they score 75+ points and are 33-3. But what I like is they have found a way to co-exist.”
Steve Kerr on the importance of tonight’s game for the Chicago Bulls: “The Bulls are going to try and get out in transition and the way they do that is their defense. The depth of this front court is what won the series against Atlanta. The defense led into that transition game and allowed Rose to get going. If Chicago is going to win the series, they’re going to have to win Game 1.”
Barkley on why Chicago will win the series: “The difference in the series is going to be the Chicago bench.”
Webber on why Chicago will win the series: “It will be won because of the battle in the paint. [Joakim] Noah and [Carlos] Boozer have an advantage. Noah is going to be the difference in this game. Play inside is going to decide this series and Chicago has the advantage.”
Smith on why Chicago will win the series: “The Miami Heat should be the favorite because of who they have but if you’re a proponent of defense, defense wins championships. And teams win championships over individuals. You have to say the Chicago Bulls are a better defensive team and a better basketball team. Chicago makes you change your offensive mindset. Miami doesn’t do that.”
Barkley on Chicago’s bench being the difference in the series: “This is going to be a great series. Those guy in Miami have, as Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, three monsters. But Derrick Rose is a monster. [Chicago’s Carlos] Boozer and [Miami’s Chris] Bosh are a wash. Chicago’s bench is so much better than Miami’s and that’s going to be the difference in the series.”
Smith on Chicago’s Joakim Noah: “He’s going to have a big series. I think he’ll have a double-double series but a high double-double, 13 and 15 but on a consistent basis.”
Webber on who will win the series: “I want to pick the Heat because they have the two best players walking the planet but I can’t do that. I still love Chicago.”
Smith on Chicago shutting down the rest of the Miami offense: “Here’s the difference, 30 points for LeBron, 30 points for Wade, that’s 60 points. Chicago will, not can, lock down the rest of the [Miami] perimeter. Those guys cannot be locked down on Chicago. That to me is the difference.”
Barkley on the importance of Game 1: “This is a really big game for the Chicago Bulls to win. If they lose is the series over? No. To win this series the Bulls need to win Game 1.”
Barkley on Oklahoma City Thunder’s Game 7 win over the Memphis Grizzlies: “Nick Collison turned that series around for OKC. He played fantastic defense on Zach Randolph and was the difference in that series.”
Webber on OKC guard Russell Westbrook’s triple-double in Game 7: “You gotta give credit to Westbrook. When he does things like he did tonight, they’re [OKC] really tough to beat.
Barkley on Westbrook being too sensitive about constructive criticism about his shooting: “It’s very interesting listening him [Westbrook] speak. Some of these guys are so sensitive to coaching. They consider it criticism. They have to understand when a guy says: ‘Dude, you just have to get the ball to these other guys. You just can keep jacking it. Y’all are a better team with Kevin Durant takes more shots than you.”
Webber on the point guard position: “The point guard is the last guy you want as a wild card. Being a big fella I played with some crazy point guards, the way the point guard goes is the way the team goes. It’s that simple.”
Barkley comments on WCF: “The Dallas Mavericks are going to the NBA Finals. Dallas is going to beat them [OKC]. It’s going to be a very difficult series for Durant. Kevin Durant has got to become a better post-up player so little guys can’t guard him.”
Smith on who will win the WCF: “This will be [OKC guard Russell] Westbrook’s series to win for OKC.”
Game 1: Miami Heat (82) @ Chicago Bulls (103); The Bulls lead the series 1-0
Announcers: Marv Albert (play-by-play), Steve Kerr (analyst), Reggie Miller (analyst) with Craig Sager, reporting.
Sager talking with Chicago forward Joakim Noah about his energy level: “This is the biggest game of my life. To be in this position is really exciting but we’re ready to get to business. We’re excited for the challenge. Our biggest focus defensively is to stay focused.”
Miller on Rose settling for outside shots: “If Rose continues to play and take outside shots and not attack the paint, he’s playing right into Erik Spoelstra’s strategy.”
Kerr on the defensive prowess of this series: “They are the two best defensive teams in the NBA and the reason is because the versatility of their bigs. Obviously Miami has the speed and quickness on the outside with Wade and LeBron, but the versatility and quickness of [Chris] Bosh and [Joel] Anthony. And then on the other side Noah, [Taj] Gibson and [Omer] Asik make these teams so hard to score on.”
Reggie Miller commenting on Joakim Noah’s shooting style: “That’s one of the worst shots I’ve seen in my life.”
Kerr comments on the defenses: “The Bulls were the most consistent defensive team all year long. When they are committed, I think they are the fastest defense in the league.”
Miller on comments about Chicago’s unending offensive chances and work ethic: “It’s a lot like a boxing match, what the Bulls want to do is jab, jab, jab and wear you down until the later rounds and then get all of those easy offensive rebounds.”
Miller talks about the extreme defense of this game: “You are going to have to earn every possession and bucket you get.”
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose following the first quarter –
Comments on double teaming: “I’m just trying to find the opening and just keep attacking.”
Sager: Did they surprise you going to the smaller lineup? “Yeah, they surprised us. But we just gotta keep going inside.”
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Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber
Smith on what will win championships: “I still feel team basketball beats individuals and defense wins championships. That’s why the Bulls are going to win the series.”
Webber on how to beat Chicago: “Everybody knows you have to kill the head of the snake and the head of the snake is Derrick Rose and they’re going to make sure they double him on pick and rolls.”
Barkley on Derrick Rose: “Derrick Rose has to be a little more careful with the ball. Because when you’re playing against bad teams you can be a little nonchalant. But when you’re playing against Dwyane Wade and LeBron, you have to be a little more careful with the ball.”
Johnson asking who feels better right now, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau or Heat coach Erik Spoelstra:
Smith: “I don’t think either of them feel great. I don’t think anyone can say we’ve established the kind of play we like. There are too many turnovers for Chicago and Miami hasn’t made a presence on defensive rebounding.”
Barkley: “I’m going to disagree because Tom Thibodeau knows something already, [his] bench is better than [their] bench. But [Chicago’s] starters have to play and match the Miami starters.”
Johnson asking Barkley what his theme music would be while walking down the street: “You can never go wrong with Frank Sinatra’s, ‘My Way.’”
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Kerr on Bosh being number three of the Big 3: “When you’re called a Big 3 and you’re number three…there’s no way Bosh should be considered in the same realm with those guys [James and Wade] because they came in together. He’s not a difference maker.”
Albert on LeBron James’ comments about choosing Miami for the weather and schools: “LeBron had done a lot of intensive study and he liked the arts and crafts program.”
Kerr on the Bulls having a good night: “They made it their night by playing good defense and by not turning the ball over in the second half. They’ve taken 76 shots to Miami’s 60.”
Reggie Miller on the importance of the Bulls win: “This is a huge Game 1 win for Chicago and sets up the table beautifully for Wednesday’s game.”
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Bulls forward Luol Deng: “Our defense just stayed consistent from start to finish. On being considered underdogs in the series: “We’ve won 62 games. In order to win you have to think you’re the best. In the lockerroom we just believe in ourselves”
Kerr on what adjustments Miami has to make for Game 2: “They have to find some easy baskets like they got in the first half. In the second half they couldn’t get any.”
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Inside the NBA
Johnson, Barkley, Smith and Webber
Barkley on what Miami has to fix for Game 2: “The Miami Heat have two great players. We’ve said all year their weakness is at point guard, inside and their bench. Those things don’t show until you play against a really good team. This is not a good matchup for the Miami Heat. I have to say something about the Chicago defense, I’ve been in the NBA all my life, and that is the best defensive team I’ve seen. They play great defense.”
Smith on Miami’s half-court offense: “Overall with Miami, it’s great players, not great plays. I don’t think they’re sets are good enough in the half-court offense. Either they’re going to have to go really stringent on their half court offense or they’re going to lose the series.”
Barkley on what Miami has to do: “The only way the Heat can make this a series is to turn it into a track meet. If you look at their half-court offense it’s get the ball to LeBron, get the ball to Wade. That won’t work against the Bulls.”
Smith on what adjustments Miami has to make: “They [Miami] have to call plays. The days of giving the ball to this guy [Wade] or LeBron are over. Very rarely do I look at film but in looking at Chicago’s last four games, Chicago runs plays. Miami isolated 1-4 saying ‘Our best guy can take yours. That’s not going to work against these guys [the Bulls].
|E. Dampier||DNP — INACTIVE|
|Z. Ilgauskas||DNP — INACTIVE|
|D. Pittman||DNP — INACTIVE|
|R. Butler||DNP — COACH’S DECISION|
|K. Thomas||DNP — COACH’S DECISION|
|J. Lucas||DNP — INACTIVE|
|J. Pargo||DNP — INACTIVE|
|B. Scalabrine||DNP — INACTIVE|
Time of Game: 2:22
Webber on the key to the WCF series: “I think this is going to be a series with really great shooters and getting to those shooters [putting a hand in their faces] will be the key.”
Smith on the key to the WCF series: “Harden is the big key. James Harden will have a good series and Oklahoma City goes to the NBA Finals.”
Barkley refuting Smith’s prediction: “Dallas is going to beat Oklahoma City. It’s going to be very difficult for Oklahoma City because Dallas is going to play Kevin Durant well. Dallas is too big, too deep and they’re going to the Finals.
Johnson: “It sounds like a quick series?”
Barkley: “It’s a quick series. The Dallas Mavericks, those guys are playing great and they’re going to beat Oklahoma City.”