jeffenank3 posted an update 1 month, 3 weeks ago
As his team was making quick work of his old one in the first round of the playoffs, Pat Riley kept his usual low profile.
In Miami, he sat in his regular seat, across from the Heatās bench, but rarely ventured into areas where heād have to encounter members of the media. We were lucky to bump into Riley before the Knicksā only win of the series, as he walked from the visiting locker room at the Garden to a room bearing the placard, āHeat executives.ā
āJust watching all the playoffs games, like we always do at this time of the year,ā Riley said an hour before Game 4, which turned out to be the only good thing about the Knicksā playoff season.
Then we brought up Derrick Roseās injury and thatās when Riley reminded us why Chicago ā and every other team that has the great fortune of being led by a true superstar, including Rileyās Heat, with its excess of riches in the persons of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade ā can ill afford to see that player go down to an injury in the playoffs.
Sure, the Bulls were amazingly successful in the regular season, when Rose missed 27 games with a variety of injuries. They were 18-9, allowing them to finish in first Michael Kors Hamilton place in the East for the second straight season. But thatās the regular-season, when teams arenāt preparing day after day for one opponent.
āEven for one game, you canāt miss your real key players at this time of the season,ā Riley said. āYou just canāt survive that kind of loss. I know. I remember for us, back in 2005, we had Dwyane suffer an injury to his side, he had a rib injury in Game 5 of the Detroit series.ā
That was in the Eastern Conference Finals, when Shaquille OāNeal was in his first playoff run for the Heat and when Wadeās impact was so great, with one 40-point game in the series and another game in which he scored 36, Hall of Famer Chuck Daly was moved to say, āThat Wade, heās got a little Jordan in him.ā
Then came Game 5 when Wade was injured and all comparisons to Michael Jordan abruptly ended. With Wade out, the Heat went on to score 66 points in a 25-point loss in Game 6. He returned for Game 7 and was severely limited in a 20-point effort as the Heat lost on its home floor by six points.
āOnce that happened to Dwyane, we were never the same,ā Riley said.
āAnd so we lost that series. When itās injuries, what can you do? If itās just Michael Kors Hamilton Satchel one game or for a few games, you canāt miss those kinds of players.ā
Rileyās comments certainly apply to the Bullsā dramatic first-round exit, an event that should help the Heat return to the Finals. Miamiās only real competition now in the East is Boston and itās going to take a lot for the Celtics to slow down James and Wade.
They were able to get only one win off Miami last spring.
After their 50-win season, the Bulls looked all set to go on another long title run ā provided that Rose was going to be able to stay healthy for the postseason. But then he blew out his left knee at the end of the first game against the Sixers. From there, the Bulls won one other game, against an inferior team that couldnāt shoot or rebound, as they suffered another key loss when Joakim Noah missed the last three games with an ankle injury.
In their close-out win, the Sixers became the first playoff team in history to win a game while shooting under 40% and getting outrebounded by 23 rebounds. Not having to contend with Rose, last yearās MVP, or Noah, the Sixers became the first team to win three games in a series despite shooting under 40% from the field since the Pacers defeated the Knicks in the 2000 East Finals. And it was only the fifth time in league history that had ever happened.
By the time the Bulls lost Game 6 in Philadelphia, when C.J. Watson erred in the final seconds, passing the ball to Omer Asik, triggering the fatal last seconds of a 79-78 loss, they were reduced to a supporting cast that put up a fight but couldnāt overcome the loss of the reigning MVP.
Without Rose, the Bulls hardly got enough from Carlos Boozer, their $80 million forward, who scored all of three points in Game 6 on Michael Kors Hand Bags 1-of-11 shooting while playing only 27 minutes. Boozer ended up averaging a paltry 13.5 ppg on 42% shooting in the series. Luol Deng, the Bullsā other top player, also failed to raise his level. He contributed just 14 ppg on 56% shooting.
āThatās an underachieving roster,ā said one Eastern Conference GM.
āNobody stepped up. But it all hinged on Rose. Now theyāre looking at starting the first 2-3 months of next season without Rose.ā
Theyāll probably survive very well, but only because itās the regular season. But as Pat Riley was quick to remind us, in the playoffs, those losses always prove fatal.
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SLAM DUNKS …
Toronto will be in direct competition with the Knicks for Steve Nash. But Nash is expected to look to sign with a bona fide contender, and the Knicks and Raptors don’t fit that description. The Raptors Michael Kors Astor Handbag are also a potential landing spot for Jeremy Lin. They like him and what he’d do for their attendance, but Toronto would have to back-load an offer to the restricted free agent, paying him gazillions in the final couple of years of a Michael Kors Fulton Handbag deal, and hope that the Knicks would not match. According to league sources, that’s what the Raptors just might do if their Nash plan falls through. But considering that the Knicks have no other viable options at point guard, and Lin has been nothing short of a marketing Michael Kors Macys dream, they’re seen as a lock to match any offer.
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Charlotte asked for and received permission from Memphis to talk to one of its assistant coaches, David Joerger, about its head coaching vacancy … Stock up: Pacers PG George Hill is helping his value. He turned down a $6 million-per-year extension before the season and now might get more this summer as a restricted free agent. The Spurs and Tim Duncan, especially, want him to return to San Antonio, but San Antonio might not be able to afford him.
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The Nets informed Tom Barrise that he’s out of a job after 17 years with the club and the last eight as an assistant coach. He’ll be a valuable addition for some NBA team. … The Hawks have to decide what to do with their team after their first-round loss to Boston. Expect to hear Joe Johnson’s name linked to trade talks, potentially with the Knicks, among other teams, especially with Mike Woodson coaching the team. Johnson would solve a lot of ills, especially at the defensive end, where he can guard multiple positions. New York finished second to Atlanta when Johnson was free in 2010. It’s just hard to imagine that Hawks ownership would take a shot on Amar’e Stoudemire, with $64 million left on his deal. But never say never.
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