Bulls

Star-studded Heat view Bulls as true rivals

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Star-studded Heat view Bulls as true rivals

Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011
Posted 10:37 AM Updated 5:31 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Contrary to the notion that the Miami Heat believe their superior talent will simply overwhelm opponents, the team exhibited almost deferential praise when discussing the Bulls, the team theyll face Saturday night at the United Center.

Theyre a very good defensive team as well. Right now, theyre the best defensive team in the league and thats what we wanted to be, what were still striving to be. Theyre getting into a great flow offensively, said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. Their point guard is having an MVP year. Their power forward is playing as well as anybody, giving them a great inside-outside threat. Other guys are fitting in and the pieces fit, so theyre playing very good basketball and we respect them for that.

Windy City native and Heat superstar Dwyane Wade chimed in: Theyre a very good team. They, just like the other teams Boston, us have had injuries and theyve dealt with the injuries well, with not having Noah, just like I felt we dealt with not having Udonis and not having Mike for a while. Pretty well, same as Boston. So, this a good team, playoff team.

Theyre No. 1 in defense for a reason because theyve bought into the system and were one, two, three in the league us three with Orlando being right there. This is going to be a battle all year; it could fluctuate. The Bulls are there. They might not be the headlines of ESPN every night, but they have exactly what you need to be a championship contender team and thats two good star players in Boozer and of course in D-Rose who has emerged to be what everyone thought he could be, maybe even quicker than people expected and a great coach and a great support staff. Theyve got a deep bench, so this is a good team, he continued.

Theyre doing great. Of course coming out early and not having Boozer, and then getting used to a new coach, it takes time to jell. The biggest thing for them is when they went on their road trip earlier in the year and they really jelled, and really held their own. They got their confidence rolling as a team and now they moved up to No. 3 in the East, and two games behind us in the loss column, right there fighting it out. This team has got a bright, bright future.

The player on the Bulls with the biggest target on his back in the much-anticipated matchup will obviously be point guard Derrick Rose. Spoelstra and Wade paid their respects to the third-year players development.

What do you do now? I mean, seriously, when a guy who can attack like that and get to the rim and in the paint and compromise your defense so much, pretty much when he decides when he wants to go hes that quick and explosive and then if hes shooting threes, the game plan has to change, said Spoelstra, a former college point guard at the University of Portland himself. For two years, it was meet him under the 3-point line, give him those shots and bait him into that. Now, hell make you pay enough. Its not like hes shooting one a game. Hes shooting four of them a game, so its not an accident that hes shooting that percentage. But it still has to remain a key to limit his paint attacks, which is easier said than done.

Added Wade: The biggest thing is when I look at D-Rose play is the confidence that hes playing with. Confidence is so key in life and especially in the game of basketball. I watched him play the other night against Indiana and the way hes shooting the pull-up three, I thought it would take him a couple more years before he got that confident shooting it, but hes just confident in his overall game.

He understands his ability, he understands his strengths over a lot of guys. Theres not many point guards ever that have played this game that can do the things that D-Rose can do. Hes finally put it together. Thats why hes one of the best in our game, thats why hes an All-Star and Im sure Chicagos happy to have him.

Bosh vs. Boozer
Chris Bosh who, like Wade, was wooed by the Bulls as a free agent during the offseason discussed his head-to-head matchup with fellow power forward Carlos Boozer.

Playing Carlos is always a big matchup. I mean, hes an All-Star, no matter what conference hes in. He got off to kind of a slow start because of his injury earlier, but once he got into game shape, hes been showing what he can do and hes been really helping his team out. Hes a load down there, he can shoot the basketball, he can hit you from so many different angles, so its going to be a big challenge tonight, Bosh observed.

Every night is a challenge for the star-studded Heat, probably the biggest attraction in any city they visit since the championship-era Bulls. Spoelstra, after speculation hed be fired amid early-season struggles, has forged a defensive mentality, yet still allowing his star trio to play their games on the offensive end of the floor.

Its one of the biggest adjustments weve had to make, build different habits while allowing them still to remain who theyve been and the great players that theyve been before they got here, and thats something well have to continue to improve on, said Spoelstra. Theyre getting a much better grasp of how they can impact the game offensively when the balls not in their hands. A lot of times that can be with cutting or screening or simply being active on the weak side. The other part of that is our transition game has really picked up and its critical.

Wade concurred: You dont have to alter your games and the biggest thing is comes to the possessions you have the ball, how long you can hold the ball and different things of that nature. So, when you get comfortable with something for your whole career and then theres a change a change that you wanted to happen it just takes time for it to happen. Weve all accepted our new roles. Its something that we all wanted or we wouldnt be playing together. Now, were getting more comfortable with it.

Agreed Bosh: Keep being the players that weve always been since weve got into the league. Just because were on the same team doesnt make a difference. I think once we figured that out, we started having more success. At first, we were being a little too unselfish and I think the offense was lacking because of that, but now were bringing the same things to the table and its been working out. So, as long as we play defense and stay solid on the defensive end and take good shots, I think well have a pretty good chance.

The Starting Five

1. Superstar LeBron James, who missed Miamis loss to the Denver Nuggets Thursday night with a sprained ankle, is doubtful for the contest.

He did not go through the shootaround. We have not ruled him out for tonight, but it is doubtful. He is feeling better. Hes going to come over on the first bus, get treatment, try to loosen it up and well make that determination then, said Spoelstra. Hes moving around better. Itll come down to two things. One, can it become worse and two, whats his comfort level with it? Hes a very competitive guy, he wants to play, we will have some time off to rest if he needs it after this. So, well go through all of those scenarios tonight, after he gets treatmentif LeBron doesnt play, sharpshooter Mike Miller will play significant minutes.

Added Wade: If LeBron doesnt play, the way Im used to playing will have to change, as sense of this year. When LeBrons in the game, Im more off the ball, getting opportunities in different places. If he is not to go, then I would have to go back to more being in situations where I have the ball in my hands a little bit more, a little bit more isolations, things of that nature. So, I think itll be an adjustment for all of us the coaching staff, as well to get out of the comfort zone that weve been in, but hopefully he can go.

Chimed in Bosh: Some guys have to be more aggressive coming out of the gates and we have to be a lot more aggressive on defense, and I think really try to emphasize running a little bit more because he makes up so much of the fast-break points that we getwe have to be a lot more solid in the halfcourt and keep playing together like weve always been doing.

2. Wade downplayed the reception he expects to receive in his hometown.

Im over anticipation. I really dont know. Weve been on the road a lot this year. Nowhere we go theyre not cheering for us so I expect it to be the same way with these Chicago fans coming out, supporting their team, as well as they should. Chicagos got some of the best fans and Im sure theyll be here tonight supporting their team even more because of what the Miami Heat attraction positive or negative has done. So, itll be the same.

Of his offseason meeting with the Bulls, he said, It was a great experience. I had great meetings with the Bulls. Of course, I decided to go back to the team that believed in and drafted me from the beginning, and was able to be part of something special, but Chicago was always a top choice for me. If I was ever to not be in a Heat uniform, Chicago was a top choice. It was just something that didnt happen.

When asked by a reporter if Chicago was his second choice, he quipped, Is that going to save some boos tonight? I dont think it really matters.

Later, he joked, Im sorry, my blood is so thin. Im freezing. Ive got to get out of here.

3. Spoelstra also discussed his respect for Thibodeau and his history with Bulls veteran Kurt Thomas.

We have great respect for Thibodeau, going back to his days as an assistant with Houston. Its not an accident that they have the No. 1 defensive team in the league and hes gotten this group to believe in that side of the floor, theyve committed to it and its opening up a lot of opportunities for them. Theyre great in transition here at home and thats a direct residual to their defensive commitment, said Spoelstra.

That Thomas rookie year with the Heat was my first year. He started for us that year and hes your actually quintessential Miami Heat-type player tough, defensive-minded, rugged. Back in the day, he was always toeing the line of physicality and going overboard. Hes a great guy to have on your team because he does all the little things, he knows his role, plays within himself and he gives you every single thing that he has. Hes playing big minutes, too. Hopefully thatll take its toll, but he keeps himself in great shape and hes able to really step in. hes able to provide more than what people probably thought with Bulls center Joakim Noah being out.

4. Veteran Heat forward Juwan Howard, a Chicago native, talked to CSNChicago.com about playing in front of his hometown crowd, how his experience with Michigans Fab Five in college a circus-like atmosphere that preceded the Heatles have contributed to his behind-the-scenes leadership in Miami and how the Bulls pursued him in the offseason.

Its nice to come home and play against the home team that I grew up enjoying and watching and being a big fan of. As a veteran in this league, its gotten old, but I still look forward to seeing my family and friends, said Howard.

Weve talked about it Fab Five, but whats great about this group is we have a lot of mature men that have been through the wards, been through adversity and know how to adapt.

Howard added: I strongly considered signing with the Bulls. Chicago was my second choice and I hate to of course categorize one or two, but to be honest with you, they were one of the first teams that called, if not the first team that called and I respected it and I appreciated the fact that they wanted me to be a part of this franchise because Ive always been a big fan of this franchise since I was a little kid.

5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Is Steve Kerr trolling the Bulls?

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AP

Is Steve Kerr trolling the Bulls?

With Kevin Durant (ankle) and Draymond Green (rest) out, the Golden State Warriors had two starting forward positions open for Friday's game against the Bulls.

One of the two starters replacing them? Jordan Bell. Does his name ring one, too?

Selected by the Bulls with the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Bell was eventually traded to the Warriors in exchange for cash considerations.

The Oregon product hasn't played much this season for the defending champs, averaging just 3.2 points and 8.3 minutes in 12 games, but he will make his first career start against ... his "former" team. Coincidence?

Warriors coach Steve Kerr (jokingly) explains why he's giving the 22-year-old rookie the nod in the lineup.

Prior to the game, Bell also had this to say about his trade:

Buckle up, Bulls fans. Lauri Markkanen vs. Jordan Bell Part II is coming your way too.

Could star-crossed Derrick Rose be ready to call it quits?

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AP

Could star-crossed Derrick Rose be ready to call it quits?

I'll never forget watching the reaction of Derrick Rose after he found out his hometown Bulls had won the rights to draft first overall in the 2008 lottery. Rose was smiling from ear to ear as he imagined the possibilities of leading the team he rooted for growing up back to greatness. And, the fact the Bulls faced such long odds to win the top pick made the news even sweeter for the soft-spoken teenager from Simeon high school.

Rose took the NBA by storm, turning in the kind of highlight reel plays Bulls fans hadn't seen since the Jordan era. He was named Rookie of the Year and matched a record set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by scoring 36 points in his very first playoff game against the Celtics. The future couldn't look brighter for Chicago's hometown hero.

Rose really took off in his first season playing for Tom Thibodeau, averaging 25 points a game while leading the Bulls to a league-best 62-20 record, in the process becoming the youngest MVP in NBA history. The Bulls lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it appeared only a matter of time before Rose brought NBA championship to the city of Chicago.

But then came that fateful Saturday afternoon in April of 2012 when Rose ruptured his left ACL playing the meaningless final minutes of the Bulls' playoff opening win over Philadelphia. The Bulls would go on to lose that series while Rose headed off to a long and frightening rehab. The wunderkind suddenly robbed of his amazing gifts with one fateful misstep.

Rose sat out the entire 2012-13 season, drawing criticism from many fans and some media members who expected Rose to return after the mid-season All-Star break. Eleven games into the 2013-14 season, Rose was hurt again, this time with a season-ending right meniscus tear. Forget the flashy Adidas marketing campaign about Rose coming back better than ever, we would never see the explosive league MVP again.

Only Rose, his family and his trusted friends know the extent of the frustration that Derrick went through as he tried to prove to all the doubters he could still be one of the league's best players. Rose grew more combative with the media when questioned about trying to reshape his game given the new physical limitations. He would have one more knee surgery while a member of the Bulls, missing about six weeks in the 2014-15 season following another right meniscus tear.

Rose had one more heroic moment in a Bulls' uniform, banking in a three-point heave to give the Bulls a 2-1 series lead over LeBron James and the Cavs in the 2015 playoffs, but Cleveland would go on to sweep the next three games of the series, ending Rose's last chance to lead his hometown team to a championship.

Rose was traded to the Knicks in June of 2016 after the Bulls failed to make the playoffs, but after having a productive 2016-17 campaign in New York, Rose would suffer yet another knee injury, leading to another summer of rehab and doubt.

After talking openly with reporters about getting a shot at signing another max contract in September of 2015, two years before he would hit free agency, Rose could only land a veteran's minimum deal to hop on board with LeBron and the Cavs this season. He played fairly well in seven games, averaging 14.3 points on 47 percent shooting from the field, but then an injury sidelined him again, this time an ankle sprain.

Which brings us to Friday's bombshell that Rose was leaving the team to "re-evaluate his future in the NBA." Would the self-described "hooper" actually pull the plug on his NBA career at the age of 29? It seems like all the years of injuries, rehab and reduced effectiveness have taken a substantial physical and emotional toll.

In Rose's mind, he's still one of the league's elite players and should be held in the same regard as LeBron, KD, Steph, Russ and James Harden. Problem is, his body has already betrayed him, and the stat sheets that continually show more turnovers than assists are becoming too difficult to ignore.

Maybe some time away from the daily grind will convince Derrick he still loves the game and wants to get back with the Cavs to play whatever role is needed for a team with an excellent chance to get back to the Finals next June. Or maybe being with his son and family members during the holiday season will convince him that the cycle of injury and rehab is something he just doesn't want to endure anymore, even at the price of giving up the $80 million remaining on his shoe contract with Adidas.

Cavs coach Ty Lue says he's confident Rose will return to the team after some time away, and LeBron has been vocal in his support of Rose trying to re-establish his identity with a championship contender. My best guess is Rose will play again for the Cavs this season, but whether he wants to continue down the road of many injured stars, moving from city to city on minimum contracts, just might not be worth it anymore.