Bulls

Schedule released for Bulls-Pacers playoff series

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Schedule released for Bulls-Pacers playoff series

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Posted: 1:00 p.m. Updated 11:55 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Bulls announced that Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first-round series against the Indiana Pacers will begin at 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 16. Game 1 from the United Center will be aired live on Comcast SportsNet.

Now that the regular season is complete, ever-focused Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau allowed himselfand his playersthe pleasure of looking ahead to the Bulls first-round opponent, Central Division rival Indiana.

Theyre playing well. They can put a lot of points up on the board and they have a little bit of everything, said Thibodeau, who tied the record for most wins by a first-year NBA head coach. We had a pretty good regular season.

All-Star point guard Derrick Rose agreed, referencing the Bulls loss to the Pacers the last time the two squads played, an overtime loss in Indiana.

They play together, they play hard, said Rose. Anytime you play against a team like that, you never know whats going to happen.

Joakim Noah chose to focus on the elevated atmosphere surrounding the postseason.

Its just a whole different environment. Were playing for something big. This is what its all about. Your whole life, you dream about playing on the big stage and it doesnt get much bigger than that, said Noah. Everything is magnified. Its a different game, but weve been preparing for it all year. Were not going to change much.

The regular season is over with. We had a great regular season, great team effort, but as a team, I think we have to come into this, the playoffs, and just forget about the seeding. Just locking into Indiana and really focus on Indiana, respect them and come out, and try to beat them. We cant come in with the mindset that were a higher seed, were a better team. We cant do that. Weve just got to come and play, said Deng. Its a different ballgame now. Its the playoffs. Its zero-zero.

Deng, who will be matched up with Pacers leading scorer Danny Grangerwho made comments likening the Bulls to a one-man gang (as in Rose) and preferring to play Chicago over Bostonrefused to take the bait when asked about his fellow small forwards comments.

Im not that guy, said Deng. Its not about me and Danny Granger.

Hes got to back it up now. I dont think theyre going to shut down Derrick, but I guess thats their game plan, he continued. Comments made by one guy doesnt really make a difference about what were trying to do here.

Noahtypically less reserved than his teammatechimed in: Slow him down, then.

Its easy to talk about it. I havent seen too many people slow him down yet. Maybe he can do it, he added.

As for Rose himself, he appeared nonplussed when informed of his USA Basketball teammates opinion.

Thats his opinion. Ive got winners on my team, said Rose. Well be preparedI know Ive got other guys on my team that can play basketball.

Chicago won the season series vs. Indiana, 3-1. The loss was their only defeat by a division opponent back on March 18. Derrick Rose scored 42 points, but the Bulls gave up 115 and fell in overtime.

On Jan. 29, Luol Deng had one of his best all-around games and Ronnie Brewer threw down a poster-dunk in a 110-89 win.

On Jan. 14, Derrick Rose produced a double-double with 29 points and 10 rebounds in the Bulls' 99-86 win in Indiana.

Here is the schedule for the first-round series:

Series schedule

Date Time Location TV Game 1: Sat., April 16 12 p.m.
Chicago CSN Game 2: Mon., April 18 8:30 p.m.
Chicago CSN Game 3: Thur., April 21 6:00 p.m.
Indiana
CSN
Game 4: Sat., April 23 1:30 p.m.
Indiana
CSN Game 5: Tue., April 26
TBD Chicago CSN Game 6: Thu., April 28
TBD
Indiana
CSN Game 7: Sat., April 30
TBD Chicago
CSN-if necessary

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

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AP

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

The Bulls made headlines on Tuesday when VP John Paxson announced that David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne would be entering the rotation, thus continuing the youth movement in Chicago.

On the surface the moves make sense. The 24-year-old Nwaba, the 25-year-old Felicio and the 23-year-old Cameron Payne will be replacing 28-year-old Justin Holiday, 29-year-old Robin Lopez and 25-year-old Jerian Grant. The Bulls want to see what they have in these younger players who haven't played much; they already know what they have in Lopez and Holiday, and Grant (like the other two) is under contract through next year.

OK, got that? Here's why they're making the move: they're sitting 8th in the NBA Lottery standings and really want to move into the top-5 to give themselves a chance at what should be a loaded front-end of the draft class. It's pretty obvious, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either named Gar Forman, John Paxson or Fred Hoiberg.

And here's why: On Wednesday Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined a whopping $600,000 by the NBA for comments he made on a podcast regarding tanking. The Mavericks are currently 18-40, the third worst record in the NBA. This comes a season after they finished 33-49, netting them the No. 9 pick that turned into talented point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

So when Cuban was asked about the best interests of his Dallas team, which touts young talent but clearly isn't headed for the postseason in 2018, he said this on the House Call with Dr. J Podcast:

"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option. [Commissioner] Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players owner and having stability."

Cuban isn't wrong, and the Mavericks sure as hell aren't the only team tanking. But to come right now and admit that losing is the team's best option wasn't, as Cuban predicted, going to sit well with the league office.

Commissioner Adam Silver sent out a memo with the fine that said Cuban's comments "which concerned his perspective on the team's competitive success this season" were "detrimental to the NBA."

So while the Bulls are going about their business in trying to lose as many games down the stretch as possible, don't expect anyone to admit it's the reason behind their personnel moves. There are 600,000 reasons why.

NBA Draft Tracker: Michigan State's Miles Bridges

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USA TODAY

NBA Draft Tracker: Michigan State's Miles Bridges

NBA general managers were fully expecting to see Miles Bridges declare for the 2017 draft after a solid, but unspectacular freshman season at Michigan State. Bridges arrived in East Lansing as one of the nation’s top prospects, and his impressive leaping ability led to a number of highlight reel plays for Tom Izzo’s Spartans.

Problem is, Bridges didn’t show much versatility to his offensive game because of an inconsistent outside shot and inability to create shots off the dribble. Bridges probably would have been a late lottery pick last year on athletic talent alone, but to his credit, he decided to go back to Michigan State for his sophomore season and work on some of his weaknesses.

Unfortunately for Bridges, he really hasn’t shown much improvement year to year. Yes, he’s leading the Big Ten in free throw shooting at 89%, but his other numbers are basically flat from season to season. Bridges averaged 16.9 points a year ago, 17.1 this season. He shot .486 from the field in 2016-17, .477 this year. Even with all the work he put in on his 3 point shooting, his percentage has dropped slightly this season, from .389 to .376. Rebounding is also down slightly, from 8.3 to 6.8. 

Bottom line, Bridges is once again projected as a late lottery pick.

How does he fit for the Bulls? It’s no secret small forward and center are the two positions of need heading into the 2018 draft, and the 6-7 Bridges would give the Bulls another athletic frontcourt player who fits the pace and space game Fred Hoiberg prefers. Bridges could be a real weapon running the floor with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine for alley-oop dunks, and he should continue to improve as a 3 point shooter.

The Bulls are hoping to land a top 5 pick to add one of the elite players in this draft, and unless the Pelicans drop into the late lottery, Bridges will probably be gone by the time that selection comes up. He’s probably a bit of a reach in the 6 to 10 range, but if positional need and athletic potential are the most important factors for the Bulls, Miles Bridges could be the choice if they don’t improve their position in the current lottery watch standings.

Personally, I would prefer either Kentucky’s Kevin Knox or Villanova’s Mikal Bridges (no relation) over Miles Bridges as a small forward prospect, but all 3 players offer different skill sets that could be helpful to a young, developing team like the Bulls.

The dream scenario would be drafting a young center like Deandre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr. or Mo Bamba with a top 5 pick, then coming back to add one of those 3 small forward prospects with the 1st rounder they acquired in the Niko Mirotic trade with New Orleans. We’ll all have to wait until the lottery is held on May 15th to see if the Bulls are in position to add two more foundation pieces to their rebuilding project.