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.”




**** **** **** ****




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.’”




**** **** **** ****


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.”




**** **** **** ****


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].


Player Pos Min FGM-FGA FTM-FTA 3PM-3PA +/- OR Reb A Blk Stl TO PF Pts
L. James F 41:12 5-15 4-4 1-3 -14 1 6 6 3 2 4 2 15
C. Bosh F 36:58 12-18 6-6 0-0 -15 2 9 0 0 0 2 3 30
J. Anthony C 30:35 0-1 0-0 0-0 -8 2 6 0 3 1 0 3 0
D. Wade G 39:22 7-17 4-4 0-1 -22 0 3 3 0 3 4 1 18
M. Bibby G 22:46 2-4 0-0 0-1 -5 0 2 2 0 0 2 0 4
J. Jones 24:06 1-2 1-1 1-1 -8 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 4
M. Chalmers 22:45 4-7 0-0 1-2 -14 0 1 0 0 0 3 2 9
J. Magloire 10:08 1-2 0-0 0-0 -8 1 2 0 0 1 0 1 2
U. Haslem 4:12 0-1 0-0 0-0 -4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
M. Miller 3:28 0-0 0-0 0-0 -3 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0
E. House 2:14 0-1 0-0 0-0 -2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
J. Howard 2:14 0-0 0-0 0-0 -2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Z. Ilgauskas DNP — INACTIVE
Totals 240 32-68
6 33 11 6 7 16 15 82
Player Pos Min FGM-FGA FTM-FTA 3PM-3PA +/- OR Reb A Blk Stl TO PF Pts
L. Deng F 44:47 7-15 3-3 4-6 +18 2 7 2 1 4 0 2 21
C. Boozer F 25:57 5-10 4-4 0-0 +1 4 9 2 0 1 1 2 14
J. Noah C 35:44 4-14 1-2 0-0 +15 8 14 4 2 2 1 1 9
D. Rose G 38:20 10-22 5-6 3-7 +14 0 1 6 0 0 4 0 28
K. Bogans G 15:29 1-4 0-0 1-3 +2 0 0 1 0 1 0 2 3
T. Gibson 23:05 4-8 1-1 0-0 +17 3 7 2 2 0 1 3 9
R. Brewer 19:11 3-5 2-2 0-1 +13 0 3 0 0 1 0 1 8
K. Korver 16:33 1-3 0-0 1-2 +9 0 0 1 0 1 0 2 3
O. Asik 11:14 2-2 1-2 0-0 +9 0 2 0 0 0 2 0 5
C. Watson 9:40 1-4 0-0 1-2 +7 2 2 5 0 1 0 0 3
B. Scalabrine DNP — INACTIVE
Totals 240 38-87
19 45 23 5 11 9 13 103


Officials: Dan Crawford, Michael Smith, Ken Mauer
Attendance: 22,874
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.”

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 12-18 for 30.

9 Responses to “Notes from TNT’s Exclusive Coverage of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals Sunday, May 16, 2011: Bulls Taj Gibson Miami In Game 1”

  1. GrandNubian says:

    I hope Barkley, Smith and Webber realize that it’s just the first game of the series and the Bulls were expected to play well. I really hope so because they’ve been changing their tunes all season long. Not one of those guys have picked one team and stuck with them all season long (lol).

    I still like Miami to win this series because I don’t think the Bulls’ reserves will play this well for the entire series. Sure, their (Bulls’) bench may be better than Miami’s but the Bulls’ starters are not better than the Heat’s starters, so it balances out so to speak. Lebron and Wade will not continue to have poor or sub-par games as they did in game 1. They will get it going in game 2.

  2. TheLastPoet says:

    I dunno GN,

    Miami may have 3 solid starters, but the other 2 are absolute scrubs, and the Miami bench is scrub city, my brotha. The same cannot be said of Chicago’s starting five, Keith Bogans excepted (but he doesn’t play starters minutes anyway), and the Chicago bench goes 9-10 deep. You cannot honestly believe that all 4 or 5 of the very capable players on the Bulls bench will ALL have a bad game at the same time???

    But that’s really beside the point, because from a basketball standpoint, I must tell you that even if/when James and Wade get it going, Miami will continue to struggle against this Bulls team because 1. Miami lacks offensive rebounding, I mean they SERIOUSLY lack it. No one can grab a board, and not only is this something that Chicago does extremely well, but most people who know hoops will tell you that offensive rebounding is the second most important objective measure of success besides scoring the ball. 2. Miami also lacks an interior defensive presence, which means they have absolutely no one who can stop DRose from getting to the cup. These problems plagued Miami during the regular season when they played the Bulls, at one point leading to the infamous “cry-gate” game back in March.

    I’d also like to point out that Chicago uses the same defensive system that Boston used to effectively limit Kobe in the 08 Finals, and the Bulls are playing defense just as well today if not better than the Celtics did 3 summers ago. Sure, it will be more difficult for Chicago to stop two elite scorers than it was for Boston to stop one, but I mention this to point out that there is no guarantee that Wade and James get it going, both at the same time, in the ways you have predicted above. And yet that is exactly what Miami will need from them in order to prevail in this series.

    James in particular, I think, will have to produce a Rondo-esque type series in which he averages close to a triple double, while uncorking at least one game where he goes for 35-18-14. Trouble is, like I said before, I really don’t think he has it in him. Cats like Rondo, Kobe, and now Rose have shown they have a will to win that Lebron simply hasn’t shown yet. Not saying he won’t. Just saying I’m still waiting for him to match that prodigious talent with something more than Nike ads and club promotions.

    It’s ironic because as I watch this Heat team, they don’t look any different or any better than the Cavs teams that James led, or the Heat teams that Wade led before James and Bosh arrived – i.e., one-man acts with insufficient supporting casts (especially when either James or Wade checks out). In fact, I would wager that last year’s Cavs team was more talented, from top to bottom, than this year’s Heat team!

    On the other hand, I agree with you and Mizzo that it’s just one game. Nevertheless, I think we have an answer to the unfortunate question posed in the last post: was BOS v. MIA the NBA Finals?

    Ummm, no.

    Y’all need to show some respect to these Bulls because no team gets to the ECF by accident. No team. They can play. And I don’t care how much talent your team has, when you reach this level, if you don’t play team ball, then you don’t win. The Heat are playing Chicago 3 guys versus 10 guys, basically. Maybe those 3 guys are good enough to pull it off. We’ll see. But I doubt it. Either way, I think we go 6 or 7 games here, and I think the Bulls prevail. I know my post has been long, and I have but two words left to say:

    Weee. Un.

  3. CAvard says:

    Barkley says the ’10-’11 Bulls defense is the best he’s seen in 25 years? Is he serious? Keep in mind this is the guy who claimed the press “misquoted him” from his 2003 or 2006 autobiography. *** facepalm ***

  4. Temple3 says:


    I agree with you.

    I am interested in how Miami counters Chicago decided advantages on the block and on the perimeter.

    Will James or Wade begin to run the offense from the block?

    Will Spoelstra be forced to play bigs that rode the pine all season?

    Can James and Wade make enough jumpers to loosen up the D?

    Can Bosh continue to play well? Does it even matter?

    Can the Big 3 commit to dominating the glass?

    If not, can they win?

    If Miami manages to suddenly win 4 games against a team which they are currently 0-4 against, will they have anything left for the Finals?

    Will we know the tide is turning when Steve Javie calls 2 fouls, each, on Boozer and Noah :10 into Game 2, 4, 6, and 7?

  5. TheLastPoet says:

    T3! What it do, holmes?

    Your questions are prophetic, bruh, the last one particularly.

    If James or Wade are forced to operate from the block then Miami will suffer because neither is a very accomplished post player. And yet I’m dying to see any offensive set that doesn’t begin with James/Wade dribbling 15 feet behind the top of the key waiting for a screen-roll from Wade/James or Bosh, or waiting for the 1-4 Iso so that one of those cats can make a mad dash to the rim. Isolation plays will not work consistently against this Bulls defense, doesn’t matter who you are. Besides, I thought these Supernegroes teamed up so they wouldn’t HAVE to play 1 on 5 anymore? Spo has had an entire season to devise an offensive philosophy and this is the result? Cavs 2.0?

    As far as Miami’s bigs are concerned, besides Joel Anthony, those cats are old and tired, and in no shape to match the energy and IQ of Jo Noah, or the strength and savvy of Carl Boozer, or the athleticism of Taj Gibson. Magliore is good for some cheap shots, which DRose promptly shrugged off, but the rest of Miami’s big men aren’t even good for that.

    Back to Wade and James. Yeah they will make jumpers some games, and those will be the games that Miami wins (perhaps even as soon as Wednesday night). But those cats ain’t Kobe or Dirk or Durant (or even Rose), ie, they are not consistent shot makers. Everyone knows this, including them. And when they’re not hitting shots, those will be the games Miami loses.

    Bosh is an afterthought. Shid somebody has to score and it damn sure ain’t gonna be Joel Anthony! Besides, Bosh’s real contribution, if there is to be one, should be his interior defense and rebounding. He must close off penetration AND recover to Chicago’s mid-range jump shooters, and he MUST average more than 10 rebounds a game, every game.

    Speaking of rebounding, IF James and Wade must also hit the glass in order for Miami to win, AND initiate to offense, AND finish the play, AND hustle back on defense, well…you get the picture! Once again, it’ll be like Lebron never left Cleveland, won’t it?

    And yet, that’s precisely the effort it will take for Miami to suddenly take four games from a team they have yet to beat this season. Sure it can happen because these cats can play. We know that. But I still say it takes more than talent for them to win more than 2 or 3 games this series. Talent will likely get you 2, maybe 3, but not 4. Feel me?

    Sorry for these long-ass posts, everybody. But watching these Bulls and coming here lately and posting like my last name is Glover or Tillery is helping to take my mind off my troubles. It’s theraputic – guess that’s what sports are supposed to do lol! Bear with me, y’al. Please.

  6. Mizzo says:

    Man do you. You got that forever pass.

  7. Temple3 says:


    I just watched the Heat’s celebration signing on YouTube. I didn’t know that James made those statements the way that he made them. Not that it matters much, but my greatest take away from that was the blank, near embarrassed facial expressions of Riley and Wade and Bosh. They were sitting there like — “Whoa, Nelly!! Take it easy POTNAH!”

    Well that mouth has written a check those 3 behinds are unlikely to cash this year. The prospect of beating 3 22 year-olds in Rose, Durant and Westbrook over the next 10 years is sure to prove daunting. Throw in young guys like Perkins, Noah and others and task gets more foreboding.

    It’s a team game. It made John Paxson and Steve Kerr famous. If Mike and Scottie needed help — even when they had Horace Grant and Rodman and Harper and others, these guys must know they will also need help.

  8. […] the Thunder have to go small and get out on the break? Is this game similar to Game 1 Mia/Chi where you just throw it out because it was Game 1? Did both home teams simply play their cards a […]

  9. Jerold Wells Jr says:

    Soooooo I read all of the what ifs and after Game 2 what do we know?

    Haslem changes things on the boards. Closes the gap. Makes Chicago’s advantage a little less significant.

    Chicago’s secondary scorers (Deng/Boozer) and bench (Gibson/Watson et. al) are not the game changers they were in Game 1.

    Wade/James IF THEY’RE ON are enough to beat these Bulls provided Miami gives an A1 defesive effort.

    I may need to go through the posts again but I think Miami’s defense is the one area that isn’t get the just due it deserves. I’m not willing to say it’s over after 2 games because I don’t think either team has given thier best shot yet BUT I believe more in Miami vs the Bulls D than I do in the Bulls vs Miami’s D, if that makes sense.

    Good defense makes it hard for the first option to flourish. So, you have to work through offensive sets, or have enough tricks in the bag to remain effective aside from what you like to do.

    I see that as Wade/James taking jumpers insead of drving, Bosh/Haslem making shots, Miller/James Jones/Mike Bibby stepping up and making plays.

    The inverse would be Rose making jumpers, Boozer/Deng/Noah/Gibson making shots, and the Bulls bench showing up.

    Which do you think is more likely to happen 3 more times? I’m thinking Miami. Outside of Rose, I don’t believe in Chicago on the road.