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Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 at 9:13 am  |  46 responses

Post Up: Clutch Factor

Manu Ginobili and Nate Robinson come up big.

Bulls 93, Heat 86 (Bulls lead series 1-0)

What if it wasn’t a fluke?

That’s the question I sat up last night contemplating. The Chicago Bulls handed the Miami Heat their fifth home loss of the season, their first of the 2013 Playoffs, and yet, it felt unsatisfying.

The Bulls proved they belonged in the second round with their inspiring seven-game series victory over the Nets, but talent always wins in the Playoffs. And with half of Chicago’s best players in street clothes, and the world’s best player on the other side, a series upset seemed as unlikely as they come.

But there was the dynamic duo Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler, who together scored 48 points and earned just a hair over $1.9 million this season. Nate feared nothing. Butler never let up for all 48 minutes (for the third straight game).

Robinson suffered a laceration on his lip after chasing down a loose ball late in the first half, and TV cameras caught him getting 10 stitches to hold his lip together on the sidelines. The Heat should never have made Nate see his own blood.

He took over the second half, shooting 7-11 from the field for 24 points. He came up biggest in the fourth, becoming the first player in 15 years to record at least 11 points and 6 assists in the final quarter of a Playoff game.

The MVP was out cold in the first half. Or maybe it was the Bulls’ handcuffing defense that slowed him down. LeBron didn’t get to the line in the first 35 minutes of the game, and cashed in his lowest first-half point total of the season with just 2 points at the half on 1-6 shooting.

Predictable as the tide, the L-Train picked up steam as the game went on. He attempted nine free throws in the final quarter en route to 15 fourth-quarter points. But the Heat gameplan proved to be too much LeBron isolation and too little ball movement.

After a slow start, Marco Belinelli continued his clutch ways in the fourth, tying the game at 76-76 with a three from the left wing and then another three to knot it at 86-86.

Robinson gave the Bulls the lead by connecting on a 20-footer with 1:18 left. And then Dwyane Wade (14 points, 7-16 shooting) picked a bad time to launch his first three of the postseason—bricking the shot with 1:11 remaining. ISO Nate then drove the lane for a finger roll layup against Ray Allen, and suddenly the game belonged to the Bulls.

Chicago outscored the Heat 35-24 in the fourth quarter and finished on a 10-0 run. Chi-Town’s 35 points were the most scored against Miami in the fourth since last year.

Per usual, Coach Tom Thibodeau had a plan for every scenario. Joakim Noah (13 points, 11 boards) owned the offensive boards. Carlos Boozer (6 points, 7 boards), who led the Bulls in scoring in the first round, was once again ineffective against Miami’s defense and sat out the majority of the fourth.

Wade was aggressive going to the cup, but he didn’t attempt a free throw and led the Heat with 3 turnovers. Chris Bosh was a non-factor through four quarter. Chicago held Miami to only 32 points in the paint.

It was one win, but a statement win for the underdog Bulls. That said, the Heat have been down 1-0 in a Playoff series before during the Big Three era. They went on to sweep the next four games. —Ryne Nelson / @slaman10

Spurs 129, Warriors 127 F/2OT (Spurs lead series 1-0)

The San Antonio Spurs were on their deathbed. The flowers were in the ground. The fat lady was singing and the funeral reception was going strong at Big Mama’s house. Gregg Popovich’s team was done.

Then Klay Thompson fouled out of the game with just under four minutes remaining.

Then Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals began to resemble Game 6 of the Golden State Warriors clash with the Denver Nuggets last Thursday. Calamity, hijinks, shenanigans and tomfoolery all ensued. Somehow, the Warriors were able to withstand a near disastrous end of the fourth quarter that night, but on this night, the Spurs and the basketball gods weren’t having it. San Antonio overcame a 16-point deficit in the span of four minutes (honestly, it reminded me of when you used to play NBA Jam with the “computer assistance” on…and the CPU would just relentlessly pummel you, shoot on you, dunk on you, with no regard for your human life) and the Spurs had the Warriors in the proverbial matrix. A 20-2 run later, we were headed into overtime.

Then another overtime.

Stephen Curry, who put on another masterful Playoff performance with 44 points and 11 assists (along with playing all but :03 seconds of the 58 minute contest) next to his name on the box score, faded down the stretch by going 0-7 from the field in the last 14 minutes of the game. The Spurs, with the crowd literally shrieking their support and the PA playing every single Jock James classic from the 90’s on full blast, simply willed their team into a chance for victory.

With the Spurs down one, Manu Ginobili (who had shot missed his last nine shots) took an inexplicable three from 30-feet out that clanked off the front rim. The Warriors collected the rebound, got the ball to Curry, who found a streaking….Kent Bazemore? Yes, Kent Bazemore, as the rookie reserve put in a nifty reverse layup which Gave the Warriors a one-point lead with just 3.9 seconds remaining. Just enough time for Ginobili to atone for his previous mistakes. As the Spurs began to run their sideline inbounds play and the motion of the offense began to paralyze the Warriors, there was Ginobili, fading to the backside of the court wide open.

Ginobili sized up his shot while Bazemore rushed at him, and the end result was inevitable. 129-127, the Spurs were victorious.

A couple of key points to make quickly:

—While many will want to speak on the Spurs’ Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili, (who shot just 39.3 percent from the field for a combined 62 points on 61 shots) the most important players that played into the Spurs win were Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. Green splashed 6 threes, all crucial, and Leonard’s improved defense on Curry late in the game stifled the Warriors offense. Green and Leonard are the athletic young talents the Spurs have lacked since…well, honestly, I can’t remember. Them boys are good.

—Stephen Curry’s biggest games of the season were his 54-point outburst in Madison Square Garden versus the Knicks, his 47-point explosions versus the Lakers in Staples Center and tonight’s 44-point performance versus the Spurs. In all three games where he’s scored 40 or more, the Warriors have lost. In watching all three games, Curry’s seemed to fade late in the games and the Warriors haven’t been able to pick him up when he’s become tired.

—Why do people still leave Boris Diaw wide open for jumpers? When Andrew Bogut gave Diaw about 12-feet of space at the top of the key, and Diaw then trained an 18-foot jumper, everyone on Golden State looked surprised. Why? I have no idea.

—Jarrett Jack’s performance in Game 1 was part heroic and part head-scratching. Yes, Jack was absolutely the Warriors best offensive player during the two overtime periods. They wouldn’t have been in the game without him. However, the amount of questionable/shaky decisions that Jack makes during games is downright infuriating. When Ginobili popped wide open on the final play, it looked like Jack missed his defensive assignment. Or at least he didn’t communicate with his team like a savvy veteran would be expected to.

—That shrieking lady that’s in the stands for the Spurs has to be the worst sounding woman of all-time. Good grief, can someone give her season tickets to not show up? Please? I thought someone was dying every minute. —Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan

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  • i_ball

    So the Spurs are not running out of gas as fast as a lot of people thought

  • http://twitter.com/1993Freckles Conor O’Hara

    How has the term “Steph-Back Jumper” not been coined by a San Franciscan beat writer or a GSW PR firm? It’s one letter which encompasses the entirety of their offence.

  • airs

    heart, hustle and muscle.
    gotta love these Bulls.

  • Slick Ric

    Great night of Basketball.

  • The Fury

    What a great day of basketball, THANK YOU basketball gods!! I thought Spurs’ are goners in Game 1. Steph Curry is the devil (Kathy Bates voice) lol.

  • Caboose

    1. Wade and Bosh looked lazy. LeBron did too until he switched his shoes.
    2. Can anyone other than Redd explain to me the Jimmy Butler hype? I know now isn’t the best time to ask this, but honestly, he seems like your average small forward. Period.
    3. Nate Robinson has been underrated and under appreciated his whole career.
    4. Danny Green looks incredibly good. He’s ok at 3′s from the corner and top, but from elbow extended, he’s lethal.
    5. Tim Duncan has played 10 less Playoff games than the entire Warriors roster.
    6. Curry looked like what happens when you turn your 3 point accuracy 2K Sliders up to 99. Kid could be in MVP contention next year if he keeps shooting like that.
    7. Manu’s shot selection has gotten a bit cocky.
    8. I was very pleased with how the refs called both games last night.

  • RayJr

    “How to Give Up Guaranteed Wins” by the Golden State Warriors. New York Times Best Seller.

    After Klay fouls out you just knew SAS would creep back into the game and Mark Jackson tried to get his team to wake up and stop SAS momentum but they wouldn’t listen. They thought they had the game in the bag, but as we all know SAS does not stop playing until the final buzzer.

    Also, someone please reward Nate Robinson and give him a long term decent contract. From puking on the bench to getting stitched up, the kid deserves it.

  • Slick Ric

    What hype are you referring to Sir? I’ve never heard anyone say hes an all-star or future superstar. I only hear people compliment his effort and continuous development as a young player in this league, I wouldn’t classify that as hype.

  • Caboose

    That’s not what the announcers/talking heads/Bulls fans say…

    I agree, that’s not hype, and that’s dead on.

  • Mariano

    A bit cocky? Manu’s shot selection has always been this way… He never took high percentage shots, the thing is he usually makes them

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Butler lives in the gym. Has been as good as Deng defensively. Everyone around the organization thinks Butler is a long term option for them at the wing position.
    .
    Outside of THAT ^, the hype about him is just people over reacting. Which, of course, started with the local media.

  • spit hot fiyah

    jimmy butler was the best player on the court. man crush is getting out of hand

  • Caboose

    Seriously? LeBron and Nate outplayed him, let’s get that straight.

  • airs

    im afraid dudes gonna burn out.
    i know he’s young but damn, 144 minutes straight?

    lets hope Lu gets well enough to give him rest. i honestly believe with Lu and Kirk back, the bulls have more than a decent shot at getting to the ECF.

  • Caboose

    Interesting discussion I heard:

    Who’s the best player to never win an MVP?

    Jerry West? Stockton? Dominique? Kidd? Pippen? Drexler? Isiah? Baylor? Wade?Could Durant eventually work his way into this crowd?

    I’m saying Jerry personally, but I’m curious.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Elgin Baylor.
    .
    Keep it moving.
    .
    .
    .
    ehh, it could be Jerry.

  • Caboose

    Haha did this just turn into an Elgin/Jerry debate?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i have really been re-examining my view of Baylor recently. that’s my issue here, i think Baylor was better. He just was unfortunately the same age as Bill Russell.

  • Caboose

    Drop some knowledge.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    why would someone thumb your comment down…

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    no I think there’s a simpler explanation: man crush.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Soon as I get back from lunch

  • spit hot fiyah

    yes seriously, basketball is 50% defense, he was killing it on both ends and the boards. not taking anything away from nate and james

  • Caboose

    No rush

  • LakeShow

    Immediately I think Jerry West. But I shall review…

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Manu’s Euro-step is a thing of beauty. Harden learned from the best.

  • The Fury

    I’ll choose Jason Kidd because he does everything on both ends of the court (like Pippen and Wade based on what you listed) and he’s very unselfish. He makes everything around him better.

  • spit hot fiyah

    he somehow never won it all

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    he was guarding LeBron tho….

    .

    LeBron had more points. And Was more efficient. And he guarded 5 positions last night.

    .
    Butler played 48 minutes too, his numbers reflect that. Multiply everything he did by .896 and you’ll have his numbers in 43 minutes. He was great last night, but he wasn’t the best player on the floor.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    well i’m back, here is a video to hold you over until i gather my resources.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2t8NAXbBFFc

  • Caboose

    Thanks for handling that one for me.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Zwsb5qLBr8 (profile of Baylor)

    .http://www.nba.com/history/legends/elgin-baylor/index.html

    The main reason i have Baylor as the better player is because he was that teams first option. Next to Jerry West.

    .

    Jerry got to play PG, and be the 2nd option (think Westbrook and Durant). Baylor was less efficient (which is much less meaningful in 60s basketball) but Baylor also opened everything up for West and others. He was an extremely potent passer. This aspect of his game doesn’t get talked about enough…if ever. And (as i’ve been led to believe) he was basically taking up the reigns of a power forward on defense while playing small forward offensively.

    .http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&p1=westje01&y1=1974&p2=bayloel01&y2=1972

    Issues i do have with making my decision on who was better stem from stupid Wilt Chamberlain, the lack of defensive numbers, and a lack of film.

    - Supposedly Baylor was a better defender than West. Who himself was one of the best defensive players the league has ever seen (against the offenses he was facing). So i just don’t really know there, my gut says Baylor was more important defensively because of his ability to rebound and protect the rim, but i just don’t know for sure.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    this is also worth reading, http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7916672/the-legendary-pickup-basketball-games-wilt-chamberlain-elgin-baylor-late-1950s-washington-dc

    .

    Another reason i have Baylor as better is how good he was in his best season, compared to West in his. (1962-63 for Elgin, http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/bayloel01.html — 1969-70 for Jerry West, http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/w/westje01.html )

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i just don’t understand why people think one guy playing way better than he normally does means he is the best player on the court.

  • Caboose

    That Russell guy.

  • Caboose

    Hrmm..that just made it more difficult. That does make me lean towards Baylor, but I’ll admit I’m not well versed on either Jerry or Elgin. Or most of the 60′s, sadly.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    it’s impossible to be sure unless you were one of their teammates. i have both of them next to each other in the top 15. Up until about a year ago I thought West was better, then I started looking at their individual situations from different perspectives – Baylor seemed like he just invented what he was doing, and still did it as well as West did what he was doing.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    if “somehow” is what you call Bill Russell.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    lol, because….people

  • LakeShow

    Dear Gawddddd… How does a 6’5″ dude grab 20 boards on average over a season.

    Wowwww…

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    I f*cking love that man, thanks for sharing. It’s actually so refreshing to see someone like Kobe show so much respect for the past greats. A true student (and teacher) of the game.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    That’s why I named my dog after the guy. One of my favorites all time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    because it was an incomplete sentence!!!

  • spit hot fiyah

    and he made lebron and wade work hard everything they got which showed at the end of the game

  • spit hot fiyah

    eye-test wise, he was for one night

  • http://www.facebook.com/starkpwnsyou Joshua Maria Peter Bautista

    Does Stephen Curry know a life hack that sets your 3pt shot success rate to infinity and beyond? This is 2k13 territory he’s in.
    Jimmy Butler is an average athletic small forward, but really I wouldn’t want to be guarded by that guy for 48 minutes.
    Manu Ginobili is starting to show his real age, and well, he can’t euro-step Father Time.
    Also, Nate Robinson has got to stay in Chicago. Please!

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