Tag Archives: Pau Gasol

Bulls (3) vs Bucks (6) Preview : Defense

Chicago Bulls (50-32) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (41-41)

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The Bulls brought in a whole lot of talent this offseason on the offensive end of the ball. Pau Gasol (low post scorer), Aaron Brooks (scoring point guard), Nikola Mirotic (European star), and rookie Doug McDermott (shooter), all make the Bulls more potent on offense. With all of the new talent as well as the emergence of Jimmy Butler and the defensive prowess of Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose can finally pick and choose his spots without having to forcefully do everything on his own.

Milwaukee has been a bit of a surprise this season. Jason Kidd has coached this team up without having rookie Jabari Parker or center Larry Sanders, two players who were supposed to be vital in this teams growth and success. From top to bottom this team has little to no playoff of experience which usually spells doom.

Starters:

PG: D.Rose vs. M.Carter-Williams

SG: J.Butler vs. K.Middleton

SF: M.Dunleavy vs. G.Antetokounmpo

PF: P.Gasol vs. E.Ilyasova

C: J.Noah vs. Z.Pachulia

Both teams have top 10 defenses and offense that can be lackluster for long stretches. With these two teams being division rivals and right up the road from each other expect a nice old fashioned, physical, defensive oriented series. The Bulls have defensive ace Thibs as head coach while the Bucks have the length and speed to disrupt the passing lanes. Very intriguing right?

The Bulls won the season series 3-1 with all but one game being fairly close. Neither team scored 100 points in any of those games.

Keys:

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls have entirely too much talent to let this series get away from them. As long as they control the ball and force turnovers instead of coughing up the rock themselves the Bulls should win this series fairly easily.

Milwaukee Bucks

To make this series interesting the Bucks have to get into the head of D.Rose and force him to over think and force things. If they can contain the paint and force turnovers the Bucks could potentially scare Chicago… Jason Kidd is going to need to coach the series of his life to be completely honest.

Prediction Bulls Sweep the Bucks 4-0. The Bulls have the advantage defensively, offensively, experience wise and coaching wise. I really see this as a tuneup series to prepare for a 2nd round bout with the Cavaliers…

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NBA Awards 2014-15

Most Valuable Player Award:

 

James Harden: 27.6 ppg, 5.7 reb, and 6.9 apg

Steph Curry: 24.0 ppg, 7.7 ast, 2.0 stl, 48% FG, and 44% 3pt

Russell Westbrook: 28.0 ppg, 8.6 ast, 7.3 reb, and 2.1 stl

Ashimi: I’m not going to go as far as calling James Harden the new “King James,” however with the season he’s having this year I can’t argue with anyone who does. His ability to score this season surpassed every other MVP candidate, and his awareness on offense seems to be improving every year. James Harden has continued to improve his game and confidence every year, and this year Harden has proven to me that he is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.

Hornback: I’m actually of the belief that we should have co-MVPs this year. Curry is THE reason the Warriors are where they are, and Harden has proven to everyone he can carry a team to an elite level. Also, both players have shown a knack to close out games.

Fort: I’m going against the grain here on my pick…Give me Russell Westbrook. He’s having to do everything himself without much help. Rebounding, scoring, facilitating, defending EVERYTHING. If he hadn’t have a missed the games that he did OKC would easily be the playoffs… Take Westbrook away from OKC and they wouldn’t be a 25 win team (including the injuries that is.) If not Westbrook for MVP, give me AD for the exact same reasons. San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three

Carter: Stephen Curry is personally an easy choice for the NBA’s MVP. He’s scoring extremely efficiently and also has led his team to the best record in the extremely tough Western Conference. Curry may have the better surrounding cast, but that doesn’t take away from what he’s done.

Most Improved Player of the Year:

 

Jimmy Butler: 

2013-2014 Stats: 13.1 ppg, 4.9 reb, 2.6 ast, 1.9 stl, .5 blk, 39.7% FG, 28.3% 3pt, and 76.9% FT

2014-2015 Stats: 20.1 ppg, 5.8 reb, 3.3 ast, 1.8 stl, .5 blk, 46.2% FG, 36.6% 3pt, and 84.3% FT

Ashimi: Jimmy Butler has evolved from a player strictly known for his exceptional defense to a lockdown defender who is also an offensive threat. Now that he added offense to his game, he has become an elite player and an important part of the Chicago Bulls’ offense and defense. His stats show his improvement in just one short year and he still has room to improve.

Hornback: I’ve always been a fan of Jimmy Butler as a workhorse and a defensive player. Never did I expect him to come out being a focal point of Chicago’s offense like he became this year. He has shown some star (not superstar quite yet) potential this year.

Fort: I’m going against the grain here again by saying Hassan Whiteside. He was no where to be found last season & then all of a sudden he blew up. In 2011 he basically averaged 2pts 2reb & 1blk. This season he’s essentially averaging 12pts 10reb & 3blks while also recording triple-doubles and breaking Heat rebounding records. Huge jump from a player few knew about going into this season.Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls

Carter: Butler has tremendously stepped up his game and has earned my vote. Now with a good offensive game paired with his great defense, Butler has emerged as a star. He deserves this award for helping shoulder the load following Derrick Rose’s injuries.

Sixth Man:

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Jamal Crawford: 16.2 ppg, 2.0 reb, and 2.5 ast

Isaiah Thomas: 16.5 ppg, 4.2 ast(entire season) 19.5 ppg, 5.4apg(time with the Celtics)

Lou Williams: 15.5 ppg, 1.8 reb, 2.0 ast

Ashimi: This category is tough, but I have to give it to Jamal Crawford because there have been many games this season in which his spark off the bench lead to a Clipper’s win.

Hornback: I said from the very beginning that Isaiah Thomas would win 6th man before the season started and I’m sticking to that. He should be a starter in my opinion, and is averaging numbers better than most starting point guards in the East. He’s even leading the Celtics to the playoffs.

Fort: Thomas is the obvious pick in my opinion. He’s leading Boston to the playoffs and doesn’t have the same caliber of talent around him like the other candidates. The game would be easier for him if he had just a tad bit more help.

Carter: Lou Williams has been helping Toronto in many ways especially in scoring once DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry went down. He’s been having a career year coming off the bench, and was essential to some team wins by cutting down on his turnovers.

Rookie of the Year:

 

Andrew Wiggins: 16.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, and 1.9 apg

Ashimi: Personally few rookies really stood out to me this year. Orlando’s Elfrid Peyton was one rookie that stood out, however Wiggins is statistically better.

Hornback: I want to go with Mirotic but because he has not done this all year, I’m going to have to go with Wiggins because all year long he’s been consistent. Sad year as we didn’t get to see the full potential of Jabari Parker or Julius Randle. With them, this race could’ve been much more competitive.

Fort: Wiggins…. But as a fan of the Lakers Jordan Clarkson isn’t too far behind. He’s kept the Lakers in most games (that he’s played in) and has been a better overall player than Wiggins & company…. Too bad we didn’t get a chance to see Randle, Embiid or Parker because they would’ve had cases as well. clarkson

Per 36 Minutes:

Wiggins – 16.8ppg  4.5reb 2.1ast 43.6 FG% 31.5 3pt%

Clarkson -17.1ppg 5.0ast 4.7reb 44.8 FG% 31.4 3pt%

Mirotic – 18.2ppg  8.8reb 2.1ast 40.7 FG% 31.7 3pt%

Payton – 10.7ppg  7.7reb 5.1ast 42.7 FG% 26.8 3pt%

Noel – 11.6ppg  2.0ast 9.5reb 2.1stl 2.2blk 46.2 FG%

Carter: Minnesota has had a bright spot this season in Andrew Wiggins. He’s averaged the most points and has had the most 30+ point games out of all rookies. An easy choice for Rookie of the Year, although Mirotic has had a great second half of the season.

Defensive Player of the Year:

 

Anthony Davis: 24.3 ppg, 2.9 blk, 10.2 reb and 1.5 stl

Ashimi: This was another tough category. One player that stood out to me on defense, besides Davis, this season is Joakim Noah. He has been a defensive anchor for the Bulls this season, however Davis has been the best individual defensive player this season. He is literally 7 steals away from recording 100 steals and 100 blocks this year.

Hornback: Defensive player of the year was hard for me. If I considered the latter half of the year I’d more than likely take Rudy Gobert but over the course of the year I’ll take Anthony Davis. Always been a defensive force getting in passing lanes and sending shots to the cheap seats. 

Fort: Anthony Davis. He’s a monster in every aspect of the game. He dominates the game offensively and still has enough energy to be impactful on the opposite end. That hard to find in bigs today.

Carter: Anthony Davis should have been an easy choice. Although he’s been dominant on both sides of the ball, his defense makes the biggest impact in games. He’s such a presence in the paint that teams actively avoid him.

All NBA First Team:

Ashimi:

  1. Russell Westbrook
  2. James Harden
  3. LeBron James
  4. Anthony Davis
  5. Pau Gasol

Hornback:

  1. Steph Curry
  2. James Harden
  3. LeBron James
  4. Anthony Davis

5. Demarcus Cousins

Fort:

  1. Russell Westbrook
  2. Steph Curry
  3. James Harden
  4. LeBron James
  5. Anthony Davis

Carter:

  1. Stephen Curry
  2. Russell Westbrook
  3. James Harden
  4. LeBron James
  5. Anthony Davis

 

All NBA Second Team:

Ashimi:

  1. Stephen Curry
  2. Damian Lillard
  3. Kevin Durant
  4. LaMarcus Aldridge
  5. Demarcus Cousins

Hornback:

  1. Russell Westbrook
  2. John Wall
  3. Lamarcus Aldridge
  4. Pau Gasol
  5. Marc Gasol

Fort:

  1. Chris Paul
  2. John Wall
  3. LaMarcus Aldridge
  4. Pau Gasol
  5. DeMarcus Cousins

Carter:

1. Chris Paul

  1. John Wall
  2. Lamarcus Aldridge
  3. Pau Gasol
  4. Tim Duncan

 

All Defensive First Team:

Ashimi:

  1. Jeff Teague
  2. Jimmy Butler
  3. Kawhi Leonard
  4. Anthony Davis
  5. Joakim Noah

Hornback:

  1. Jeff Teague
  2. Tony Allen
  3. Draymond Green
  4. Anthony Davis
  5. Rudy Gobert

Fort:

  1. John Wall
  2. Jeff Teague
  3. Tony Allen
  4. Anthony Davis
  5. Joakim Noah

Carter:

  1. Jeff Teague
  2. Kawhi Leonard
  3. Draymond Green
  4. Anthony Davis
  5. Deandre Jordan

 

All Rookie First Team:

Ashimi:

  1. Jordan Clarkson
  2. Elfrid Payton
  3. Andrew Wiggins
  4. Nikola Mirotić
  5. Nerlens Noel

Hornback:

  1. Jordan Clarkson
  2. Elfrid Payton
  3. Andrew Wiggins
  4. Nikola Mirotić
  5. Nerlens Noel

Fort:

  1. Jordan Clarkson
  2. Elfrid Payton
  3. Andrew Wiggins
  4. Nikola Mirotić
  5. Nerlens Noel

Carter:

  1. Elfrid Payton
  2. Jordan Clarkson
  3. Andrew Wiggins
  4. Nikola Mirotić
  5. Nerlens Noel

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For The Fans:

Which player surprised you the most this season?

Who’s your coach of the year?

Who’s your executive of the year?

Comment your picks and winners below!

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Are the Bulls Done?

As you all may know, Derrick Rose has recently torn his meniscus in his right knee for the second time. The first coming back in November of 2013 which knocked him out for the entire season.

Previously, the Bulls have managed to compete decently in the Eastern Conference, but there’s no denial that without Rose, this is a different team.
With that being said, I still believe this Bulls team is much better than the teams of 2013 and 2014. With the emergence of Jimmy Butler as the go to guy and the addition of Pau Gasol, the Bulls were set to make a title run with Rose back.

However, injuries are really starting to take their toll. Taj Gibson suffered an ankle injury, Pau Gasol has been out with an illness, and Rose had the meniscus tear.

Gibson and Gasol will be back before the playoffs, so the Bulls title hopes all fall on Derrick Rose’s return. He has 4-6 weeks to prepare mentally because he has no choice but to come back strong. He’s already angered the city of Chicago with his comments on preserving his body for his future, but now it’s time to ball.

Aaron Brooks has been playing well for the last few games, but he isn’t capable of leading them into a deep playoff run.
Chicago has just moved into the second seed of the Eastern Conference, so everything will be ready for his return.

Heck, the first game the Bulls play six weeks from now are the Philadelphia 76ers. The perfect game for Rose to get back into game shape with.

For the first time, there’s some urgency for Rose to return now that Coach Thibodeau’s job is on the line if there’s no deep playoff run. Initially, the Bulls were my choice to make it to the Finals, but with the combination of Cleveland’s excellent play as of late combined with Chicago’s injuries, I may have to change my prediction.

For possibly the third year in a row, only time will tell whether these Chicago Bulls can finally make it back to the NBA Finals.

 

Tyler Carter
Twitter: @AyeMrCarter
@Fortonsportsinc

The Rivalry That Never Was. Kobe vs LeBron

       

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Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, two of the three most talked about players in NBA History, with Michael Jordan being the other, continue to dazzle our eyes with great inseason matchups that will never translate into a much anticipated NBA Finals series.

Once LeBron ascended into a top tier player fans of the game dreamed of an NBA series that involved both LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. LeBron, like Kobe, was suppose to be the second coming of Jordan. Both Kobe and LeBron acknowledged Michael Jordan as their idol and a player they wanted to be like. LeBron adopted Jordan’s number while Kobe adopted Michael’s game and body language. Once Kobe and Shaq broke up people talked about four things, Kobe, Shaq, Duncan and LeBron. LeBron was asserting himself as an elite NBA player. He led his Cavaliers to the Playoffs and had memorable series against the Wizards and Pistons early. During that tenure LeBron James was anointed the nickname King James.

On the other side of the U.S. Kobe Bryant led his teams to the Playoffs and had memorable series against the Phoenix Suns. Each player had little to no help en route to leading their teams to the playoffs. After the 2006-2007 season (which was the year LeBron lost to the Spurs in the Finals), the Kobe LeBron Finals matchup seemed more realistic.

The following year Boston got Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, L.A got Pau Gasol, Atlanta got Mike Bibby, Dallas got Jason Kidd and Phoenix got Shaq. Not only did those trades change the NBA landscape they made the Kobe and LeBron matchup a little bit more realistic. With J-Kidd and Shaq heading out West that paved the way for LeBron and his Cavs to move up into the upperechelon of the Eastern Conference. With the Lakers acquiring Pau Gasol they became the team to beat out West.

During the Playoffs that year LeBron and his Cavs took Boston to seven games and lost while Kobe and his new sidekick, Gasol, went all the way to the NBA Finals in a matchup with Boston. Eventually the Lakers lost and had a dreadful offseason.

Before the start of the 08-09 season LeBron’s team brought in Mo Williams to help propel them to another level. To help solidify their roster even more Cleveland pulled off a trade to bring in Ben Wallace and Delonte West. After bringing those guys in talks of a Kobe vs LeBron Finals matchup intensified. After having signed both LeBron and Kobe to lucrative deals Nike started making commercials about the two meeting in the Finals. Once Playoff time came around all eyes were on LeBron and Kobe. Each player led their team to the Conference Finals but only one advanced to the NBA Finals.

LeBron and Co. faced an Orlando Magic team led by Dwight Howard. In six hard fought games the Magic outlasted the Cavaliers and sent LeBron home in the process. Kobe on the other hand, led his team past a Nuggets team that featured Carmelo Anthony. After six tough games against Denver Kobe went on to the Finals where he beat the Magic and earned his fourth ring.

Weeks after the Lakers celebrated their Championship Parade, the Cavaliers did a trade with the Phoenix Suns to bring in Shaq. Days later the Lakers sign Ron Artest. Players, fans,coaches and analysts got the sense that a Kobe and LeBron series had become inevitable. Both teams started the season off strong. Even with the great start, Cleveland felt like they needed to give LeBron more help. At the trade deadline Cleveland did a trade that brought in Antwan Jamison. GMs and Experts said that move made Cleveland the best team in the league. Weeks later the Nike commercials came back campaigning for a LeBron and Kobe showdown. People around the world got hyped up and excited until the Playoffs came around. In the 2nd round of the Playoffs the Cavaliers lost to the Boston Celtics, who go on to lose to the Lakers in the NBA Finals.

While Kobe is having fun with his 5th ring, LeBron bolts Cleveland and signs with the Miami Heat to play alongside Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Now that LeBron had Wade and Bosh nothing was suppose to keep him playing in the Finals against Kobe Bryant. Once again people anticipated a Kobe and LeBron Finals matchup, until the Dallas Mavericks shocked the world. On four magical wins the Mavericks swept the defending NBA Champions in round two of the Western Conference Playoffs.

Instead of a Kobe and LeBron showdown fans got a Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade rematch. The end result being LeBron goes home ringless and Kobeless yet again. Last year LeBron led his team to victory in the Finals against the arguably the best scorer the game has ever seen in Kevin Durant, and the OKC Thunder, who happened to beat Kobe and the Lakers two rounds earlier.

During the offseason the Heat picked up Ray Allen and the Lakers traded for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to make one last push to the NBA Finals while Kobe is still in play. Fast-Forward about six months and we’ll be where we are today. We have the Miami Heat as the top dog in the league while the Lakers are like a lost puppy finding their way, while struggling to keep pace with the nine teams ahead of them in the Playoff Race. LeBron and Kobe have been in each of the past six NBA Finals without matching up against each other. Six straight years without one heated series between the two. We may have had some scoring battles between the two from 05-06 to 07-08  (http://www.nbauniverse.com/awards/nba_scoring_leader_year.htm),  and some nice two games matchups during the course of regular seasons between the two but thats not a true rivalry. Rivalries are made thru Playoff Series. Kobe and LeBron haven’t been in one against each other and don’t play each other enough during the season to even start one.

So stop with all the Kobe and LeBron rivalry stuff. Kobe has no true rival and LeBron doesn’t either. Kobe’s career is on the downside while LeBron’s is up North. It’s time to face the fact: Their paths will never cross.

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