Blakely: Thomas' dribbling should be least of Hoiberg's concerns after Game 4

Blakely: Thomas' dribbling should be least of Hoiberg's concerns after Game 4

CHICAGO – The Chicago Bulls have dropped two straight to Boston, both at home, and this best-of-seven series shifts back to Boston for Game 5 with the Celtics clearly having all the momentum with the series now tied at two games apiece.

These are desperate times for the Bulls, which might explain why their head coach Fred Hoiberg went on a rant about Isaiah Thomas supposedly carrying the ball.

“Let me say this: Isaiah Thomas is a hell of a player, an unbelievable competitor, a warrior, everything he's going through right now,” Hoiberg said. “He had a hell of a game tonight.”


Wait for it … here it comes …

But, “When you’re allowed to discontinue your dribble on every possession, he's impossible to guard. Impossible to guard,” Hoiberg added. “When you're able to put your hand underneath the ball, take two or three steps and put it back down. It's impossible to guard him in those situations."

Of all the rants and things for Hoiberg to be bothered by in Game 4, he picked one of the lowest hanging fruits to get worked up about trying to explain why his team was torched (again) by Thomas who had 33 points on 10-for-21 shooting.

First of all, if the officials started to call a carry every time they saw one, NBA games would become longer than overtime football games or baseball games with extra innings.

And again, Thomas’ alleged carrying the ball aside, that doesn’t explain how Hoiberg has yet to figure out how to successfully adjust to Boston’s small-ball lineups or how Gerald Green lit them up for 16 first-half points in Game 4 on jumpers and drives to the rim, or how Chicago had a 12-10 advantage on offensive rebounds but Boston outscored them 17-10 on second-chance points, not to mention getting out in transition more which led to them winning the fast-break battle, 17-9.

Those are real, in-need-of-fixing-type problems that should be given more thought by Hoiberg than whether Thomas is carrying the ball.

Hoiberg won’t admit it, but the bigger problem with Thomas is that the Bulls simply don’t have a player who can slow Thomas down – not even Butler who is one of the best two-way defenders in the NBA.

“Not one man can guard me,” Thomas said. “That’s just the confidence I have.”

So far in this series, he’s right.

The Bulls have been in help mode when Thomas has the ball in his hands throughout this series, showing elusiveness off the dribble while managing to find just the right angle to toss up shots against the long, outstretched arms of defenders.

Hoiberg has gone with size, length, speed, you name it and he’s tried it against Thomas.

Nothing has worked to slow down Thomas which may be at the heart of Hoiberg’s public gripes about Thomas carrying, with the goal for the Bulls and his rant being to hopefully influence the officials who will work Game 5 on Wednesday.

“That’s not the reason why I’m an impossible cover,” Thomas said. “It is what it is. I don’t know. I’ve been dribbling that way my whole life. I don’t know what to say to that stuff."

Greg Monroe looks comfortable as bigger offensive focal point

Greg Monroe looks comfortable as bigger offensive focal point

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum dropped 23 points, snatched 11 rebounds and Boston’s injury-riddled roster squeaked out a 100-99 upset win over Oklahoma City.

It was a good game for Tatum, but teammate Marcus Morris wasn’t moved one bit by Tatum’s historical performance.

“Now it’s not. … I’m not even impressed no more,” Morris said. “It’s to the point where I know what he’s going to bring, I know what he’s capable of. So it’s more like, I expect that now just being around, watching him play day-in and day-out, practicing with him.”

Teammates agree that the 20-year-old Tatum is growing up right before our eyes.

“With Jaylen and Kyrie being out, he’s looking to be more aggressive,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “Everybody is going to talk about offense, but on the defensive end he didn’t have an easy matchup, going against Paul George. I felt like he did a great job.”

Here are five other takeaways from Boston’s 100-99 comeback win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.


Boston’s second unit is still getting the job done even as injuries rob it of its core group that includes Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier who are now both starters. The Celtics’ new-look second unit was still impactful in Boston’s 100-99 squeaker past the Oklahoma City Thunder. Against the Thunder, Boston’s bench outscored Oklahoma City 35-10.


The big man continues to come up big for the Boston Celtics off the bench. Injuries have forced other key reserves into the starting lineup which has led to Monroe becoming an even bigger focal point offensively when he’s on the floor. Against the Thunder, he had 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting with six rebounds.


You never really know what you’re going to get from the Boston Celtics when it comes to rebounding the basketball. Well, Tuesdaynight was the good rebounding Celtics whose ability to control the glass was a huge factor in the victory as Boston out-rebounded Oklahoma City 52-44.


Remember how Marcus Smart would struggle to make shots, and still play major minutes and still make a meaningful impact? Well, Semi Ojeleye had that kind of game for the Celtics. The 6-foot-6 rookie missed all six of his field goal attempts, but showed some serious versatility against the Thunder with defensive stints on each of Oklahoma City’s Big Three of Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook.


Marcus Morris made the game-winner and Jayson Tatum was as strong on the floor as we’ve ever seen him. But arguably the biggest X-factor in Boston’s win was the play of Larkin. His ability to control the flow of the game, getting his teammates in and out of sets was critical to the win, as was his offense. For the game, Larking had 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field.

NBA: Congrats to the Celtics on the win, but they for sure should not have won

File Photo

NBA: Congrats to the Celtics on the win, but they for sure should not have won

The NBA officials' Last Two Minute report for Tuesday is out, and boy did the Celtics get away with one!

The league admitted to missing two infractions -- both committed by Marcus Morris -- on the possession on which Morris hit a game-winning three-pointer against the Thunder. 

The C's began the possession with Morris inbounding the ball, but a stopwatch revealed to the league that Morris did not release the ball within the five seconds allotted on an inbounding play. Had the correct call been made, the ball would have been turned over to the Thunder, who at the time held a two-point lead with 7.7 seconds remaining. 

Furthermore, video replay led the league to determine that Morris traveled prior to taking the shot. The video evidence that suggested this was that Morris was wearing an NBA jersey in the video, but also he moved his pivot foot prior to the release of his dribble. That call would have also given the Thunder the ball. 

What these nerds didn't consider is that the basketball gods have more power than their stopwatches. What a win.