Bulls crush Celtics, put stranglehold on #1 seed

Are the Celtics going to flip the switch in the playoffs?   I don't think there is a switch they can flip that makes them better than the Bulls.   The Bulls are simply better than Boston.  I've said it since preseason, the Boston Celtics do not scare me.   They didn't scare me then, they sure as hell don't scare me now.

They're old.   They're slow.   They're shallow.   They don't have anyone up front anymore.    Yep, maybe I'm jinxing it.  Maybe the Celtics come back from the dead and beat Miami in the playoffs, but I sure as hell am not betting on it.  Mark these words, barring an injury to one of Miami's big three, we just played Boston for the last time, and if by some miracle, that proves incorrect, we should celebrate, because it will make things all the easier for us.

Did Derrick Rose just lock up the MVP?

Boston, in theory an elite team with one of the best defensive PGs in the NBA, simply can't stop him.   Rondo has no chance.   Rose just crushes him.  Some would say that they have a rivalry, but the hammer doesn't have a rivalry with the nail.   I'll let you figure out who is who in that analogy.

Derrick sliced into the lane whenever he wanted, he knocked down threes in the second half to help ice the game.   He moved the ball all over the court.   If it weren't for a few plays he was screwed on foul calls, he could have had another 4-5 points. 

This was the last marquee game of the season for the Bulls and Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard's suspension takes the heat out of their final matchup against Orlando.   In that last nationally televised game, fighting for the #1 seed, Rose just took the heart out of the Celtics.

I wasn't too upset when Deng missed the all-star team, but if we revoted right now is he in?

I think so.  I'm sure John Hollinger doesn't because Deng's PER is just a shade over 15.   However, he does so much in the game, his defense has been incredible, he moves so well off the ball, and his PER is only down because the Bulls don't need him to rebound anymore.

His three point shooting has mad e a huge difference for this team, and Deng's health has truly been one of our fears going into the season, and he's been an iron man for us this year.  

It feels especially good, because Deng's one of the NBA's really good guys, and I always felt bad for the ridicule fans gave him even when he was under performing his contract.

What do you make of Carlos Boozer?

Carlos Boozer was in a pretty big slump, and while he only shot 6/16 for 14 points, I felt his play was a bit better than his numbers.  He's played well to bust out of the slump over the past few games against the weaker teams, but questions remain about how he'll play against lengthy defenders in the playoffs.

Joakim Noah looks like his minutes are being monitored

I liked his play a lot more than his stat line.  I thought he did a nice job defensively, rotated well, and his hustle, as always, was on high octane.   I think his numbers will remain down with Boozer playing, but his impact on the game remains high.

So far, Thibodeau sticking with rotations, mostly

It looks like Asik is starting to be pulled for Kurt Thomas.  That's not really the rotational move we were hoping for.   Thomas provides a bit more of a threat on offense, but only a tiny bit.   I'd let him shoot open jumpers all day long if I were defending him though, he might go off on you, but he's more likely to shoot about 40%.

Keith Bogans spot appears secure so far.  

Bulls continue their second half dominance

The Bulls have been the best second half team in the NBA, and that trend continued today.   Coming out of the half, it was anybody's game.  In fact, the Celtics even managed to grab a lead in the second half at one point.

Then the Bulls put the clamps down on defense, and it was over.

Even the refs couldn't help the Celtics, but they sure tried  

it wasn't the worst called game ever, but the Celtics really got plenty of benefit of the doubt while the Bulls really didn't.    Still, it simply didn't matter, because the Celtics had nothing. 

Final thoughts

I know someone will say don't write off the Celtics.   Too bad, I'm writing them off.   They're done.   No contest.  I hope they somehow luck their way into the ECF so we can crush the hell out of them.

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  • I was at the game tonight. And Garnett and Pierce just looked a step slower. Also, Boston no longer has that intimidating inside presence. The torch passed tonight. Champions close out and Bulls did so tonight. Rose is in the 1st year of a 6-8 year dominant run. Rose is the MVP. Will Bulls be NBA Champions? I say YES!

  • In reply to Edward:

    I was at the game also, and I loved every minute of it! I agree with you about Garnett and Pierce, but Ray Allen was unusually bad tonight. He missed a few wide open 3's. I remember 1 for sure because I was livid that Bogans would leave Ray Allen wide open in the corner for a 3, to help double team Garnett. Rajon Rondo was throwing up a lot of bricks too. Everytime he shot a jumper I was glad and Derrick played outstanding and utterly initimidating Defense on him!!!

  • In reply to Edward:

    To tell the truth, I wouldn't be surprised to se the Celtics get bumped out of the 1st round by Philly or Newyork!

  • In reply to ajay708:

    Philly would definately take them down to China Town

  • In reply to Edward:

    I was wondering if we were watching the torch pass, can it happen during a single regular season game, or does it have to happen in the playoffs.

    Or did it actually happen the day that they traded Perkins?

  • Agreed.

    Celtics are done. Put a fork in them. Why some fans continue to try to pump up that tire full of holes, I have no idea. Seems they're going off past accomplishments. Here's a newsflash: that was past, this is now...and the sun is setting fast in Boston.

    I just hope they can stay on life-support long enough to rough up the Heat in the playoffs. Beat them up, take their lunch money, make Bosh cry (not hard to do), and expose Lebron as the choker he is (again, not hard).

  • 1.I agree with Doug. Boston will have a tough time beating Miami in the second round. They(Boston) will struggle in the 1st round as they will lose a couple of games. The worse thing is they will try to integrate Shaq who will have no rhythm and might function in one game but disappear in the next 2 games. The main guys are just old and they got lucky last year because of LeQuit. They have pride and will not be an easy out.
    2. The only worry is if LeBron and Wade get hot and also start getting the whistles to put somebody like Deng or Noah in foul trouble.
    2.
    2.

  • Doug, good recaps as always and I was wondering why your links aren't properly being posted on the Trib website? But on a more serious note in this recap you should give Bogans A LOT of credit. Not only did he hit 2-3 threes, but he shut down Ray Allen. He chased him around the whole night and did a fantastic job tonight.

  • In reply to Chicagokid894:

    Bogans did have a nice effort out there.

  • In reply to Chicagokid894:

    I know Bogans' minutes were pretty close to average tonight, but it sure seemed like he played more than normal. He had an absolutely brutal stretch in the third quarter when he threw the ball away then didn't provide proper floor balance on offense when Rose drove, leaving Rondo and Allen all alone on leakouts. And lo and behold, after the Bulls timeout he was still in the game. Mystifying. I guess other than that he did pretty well defending Rondo, even bullied him a couple times.

  • In reply to punkedgepc:

    He did well defending Allen I mean.

  • In reply to punkedgepc:

    nights like tonight make me think the bulls will win the title this year.

  • Was a great game to watch. Really enjoyed it.

    But a couple things I noticed ...

    1. Noah looks lost out there. And is possibly over-thinking everything ...
    2. Asik and Taj are great, but two times in a row they tried to make a nice unselfish pass to the other ... not that that's a bad thing ... when a simple layup or dunk would have gotten the job done. Unfortunately, neither pass was very good. We didn't see much of Asik after that.
    3. Rose is awesome!!
    4. Boozer played D tonight ... not all the time, but more than usual. Yes, he did miss a couple assignment. But a shot block and a strip, and maybe even drawing a charge at one point. Boozer has been in tough playoff series before and I almost felt like tonight he recognized the moment and put forth that extra effort that's needed in these kinds of situations. That bodes well for this team in my mind.

    13-1 against the top 5 teams from either conference since Dec. 4th. That's over 4 months with only one top 10 loss.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    "Some would say that they have a rivalry, but the hammer doesn't have a rivalry with the nail."

    Excellent line Doug.

    Boston will collapse in the playoffs. Question is, can Miami meet the Bulls in the ECF? I hope so. I want to face the beast trio, grab it by it's neck, defeat it and reign supreme. A Bulls/Lakers rematch will only draw comparisons to MJ. It's my dream. Go Bulls.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    Meeting the Celtics in the ECF and kicking their ass is Joakim's dream, lol

  • In reply to anasemaj:

    If you knew the Bulls were going to win, would it mean more to beat Boston or Miami in the ECF? I'd think Miami since they're our future rival.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    That is a big if, which you clearly fear as much as I do.

    It would be very sweet to slay Boston in 4 just like the Baby Bulls did to Detroit in 1990, especially since in order to get to the ECF the Celtics would already have beaten Miami.

    I think that they were better equiped to beat Miami than we were before they traded Perkins, but now they may not have a shot anymore. Perkins was Garnetts bodyguard, now he(garnett) is the lion from the wizard of Oz.

  • In reply to anasemaj:

    TOUCHE! You nailed it anasemaj. That's why, as Doug keenly observed, "It looks like Joakim Noah's minutes are being monitored." BIG PICTURE BABY. WE WANT HIM TO BE READY COME PLAYOFFS TIME. With Noah it's not a question of "IF" ---because we saw what he's capable of in that thrilling 7-game Playoff series against the Celtics.

  • In reply to anasemaj:

    "The hammer doesn't have a rivalry with the nail"

    great stuff, never heard that one before

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Haha Doug I am stealing that for my Facebook status

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    no mention of Deng standing up to KG. never seen that from him. it was great seeing him and Kurt play intimidators and show there is no backing down this team. the playoffs are gonna be so awesome. can't wait.

    MVP MVP MVP!!!!!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Yeah me too never heard that line before and I love it:

    We need to get a poster of the Rose "The Hammer" and Rondo "The Nail" in action!!! :-)

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    Top 4 team is what matters. you will not face Atlanta or Denver in the playoffs. We are 11-0 against top teams since Dec 3.

  • In reply to adocarbog:

    Atlanta have won their past three against Orlando, I wouldn't count them out of the second round just yet.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Let's hope we can't count out Atlanta just yet, because Atlanta is no where near as scary as Orlando.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Absolutely, a Hawks win would be awesome.

  • In reply to adocarbog:

    Boston have more chance of losing in the first round than making it to the conference finals. It's game over for them, time for their old guys to retire and for them to rebuild after this year. Just how you build around a point guard who can't shoot free throws and crap his pants about being fouled every time he has to make a lay-up I don't know.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I don't think you can "build around" Rondo. I think he's a good piece for any team. However, he's certainly not a franchise guy.

    I also agree that this was it for Boston. It would have been interesting had they simply signed Perkins to the extension.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Where are all those people now who were calling him the best PG in the NBA?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Rondo is one of these guys who went to a basketball Chapel like Kentucky and felt whatever raw talent they had was enough.
    He came under the tutelage of a superb coach in Tubby Smith who realized that Rondo's game, despite his born skill as an adept passer of the ball, had some key holes. The troubling one was the fact that he couldn't shoot the ball.
    All those behind-the-back passes and natural feel for where his buddies are on the floor were always part of the fascination of Rondo. He had unusually long arms for his size and as such could rebound the ball quite well.
    Smith tried to persuade him to fill whatever gaping holes he had in his game But he was stubborn and on many occasions found himself coming off the bench. It was no surprise when he made an early exit for the NBA.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I know the Bulls made the celtics look like a JV team last night, but I'm not convinced we won't see them again in the playoffs. They have yet to lose a game to Miami (I'm assuming they get out of the first round), and I don't think they had Perkins healthy any of those games anyway. I remember last year the Celtics faded down the stretch at the end of the regular season as they slipped all the way to the 4th seed. Momentum is huge in the playoffs, and can swing on a dime, like when the road team steals home court right off the bat in game 1. Bottom line, if the Bulls play their defense and bring the energy in shouldn't matter who they face in the ECF.

  • In reply to adocarbog:

    Great win by the Bulls, Rose had his usual fantastic game, Boozer stepped up with a double double, Deng showed he can be a dangerous third option, and as I stated earlier... Kurt Thomas was needed in a very big way against Garnett. I guess I will be the one not to write off Boston cause the playoffs are a whole different animal and it will be about adjustments. I'm not saying the Celtics will beat the Bulls if they meet in the ECF, I just wouldn't write them off like everyone apparently has. Thibs still somehow need get Noah back in rhythm with the team and especially the starters cause IMO HE'S the key to the Bulls getting to the finals and if they meet L.A. win the championship.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Not sure that this happens often, but I agree with your sentiments about this one game almost entirely(BGBZR was tolerable, if you didn't watch that closely).

    The Celtices essentially got nothing from Allen, Rondo, Pierce and Garnett(at least in the second half). Is that the new reality, or a one night aberation, we will find out in the playoffs.

    Was Perkins he real heart and soul of this team. Without him, they are clearly a smallball type of team. Relying on the 2 oneals to be healthy was fool hardy.

    NOah will be Noah in the playoffs, if he is healthy and BGBZR stops tackling him to pad his rebound stats. I am a litlle surprised that Thomas didn't pop BGBZR in the puss when he tried that bullshit on him.

    and I am not even going to detail his complete defensive bailout on Oneal in the first quarter, which no one seems to remember. I would have benched him and then shot him right then and there.

  • In reply to adocarbog:

    I had SUCH fun watching this game in a sports bar in Cambridge, I'm visiting Boston for a few weeks. I kept my celebrations quiet, but had a blast! The locals were enthusiastic to start with, but became increasingly dejected and inebriated as the game went on...

    MVP! MVP! MVP! Oh, and IF we win out the season, Thibs will match Paul Westphal for best record EVER for a rookie coach (62 wins with the 92-93 Suns). COTFY!

  • In reply to petert23:

    good thing that you kept quite, I've been around drunk Boston fans(are there any other kind), and they are a dangerousl bunch.

  • In reply to adocarbog:

    Thibs showed Doug Collins how to defend the Celtics and he has the players to do it. The Cs would have an easier time against the Knicks..

    I thought Boozer played quite a bit better than were used to seeing. He seemed tougher and stronger. He got a little sloppy when he got tired in the 3rd qtr and had a couple of D lapses that were mentioned, but overall he provided exactly what his team needed tonight.

    Good effort and positive contribution

  • In reply to Waldock:

    They're having a hard time scoring no matter who the defense is right now, so going up against a good offensive team like the Knicks might be worse for them than a match up where at least they can make it a scrappy low scoring game.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    I agree, especially with your comment on Boozer. I've been worried all season about Boozer's D - not so much that he's slow, but just that he didn't put in any effort.

    I thought he played a great defensive game last night (well, at least relatively) - great to see him challenge shots and rotate - gives one hope that he'll put in effort on the D in the playoffs

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    "NOAH LOOKS LOST OUT THERE."
    Silverwulf, are you serious or are you just one of those freaks always trying to create some imaginary flaw in Noah's performance whenever he takes the court, with the real objective being to find time for Asik? Asik hardly got burn but you managed to come up with, ASIK AND TAJ ARE GREAT. Are you kidding me?
    I saw last night's game and Noah in the limited minutes he played, was great defending "THE BIG TICKET." He might not be 100% physically following his recent injury, which he's still recovering from, but to say he "Looks lost out there," is the most foolish statement to come up with in a game, I presume, you watched!

  • In reply to Normie:

    I'm just going to assume that you don't have freaking clue what you're talking about and leave it at that.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    You'd better leave it at that, Silverwulf,

  • In reply to Normie:

    Gee, hard to believe you disagreeing with someones opinion and calling them names.

    You are quite possibly the most despicable jackass ever to post on this site, and that is saying a lot.

    Kind of like the Kevin Garnett of this site, except of course devoid of any descernable talent other than Jackassedness.

    Why don't you join Alex and Mappy on clueless island and immolate yourselves by calling each other names at the top of your lungs until you all spntanteously burst into flames.

    Pick the dark alley, and I'll be there, pretty sure that I won't be the only one there either.

  • In reply to Normie:

    It's official; John Hollinger smokes crack.

    When asked on a chat today about who he has above DRose on his MVP ballot, he replied that Rose is currently tied for 5th (5th...really?) with Kobe, following Howard, LeBron, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade.

    You want to make a case for Kobe or Howard, I'll at least listen. I think it is wrong, but I can acknowledge some points worth considering. But LBJ and Wade??

    I know they were hurting for page views on the HEAT IS ON section on ESPN.com, but d@mn, that's just ridiculous.

  • In reply to saigman:

    Hollinger mistakenly thinks the award is

  • In reply to Edward:

    As far as reliance on PER: Hollinger also really likes Asik despite his PER being 12.

  • In reply to saigman:

    Don't really get the Hollinger hate, is it because he picked the Bucks to win the division at the start of the year? I think Hollinger is pretty right here, I'd have Howard and LeBron clearly ahead of Rose, and Rose would be in a battle with Paul/Wade/Kobe for the last podium place.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    Can the Bulls win a title without Noah playing great? Can they win if he isn't even playing D, forcefully grabbing boards, & hustling like he normally does?

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