Rajon Rondo

Former Bulls in the playoffs: Kyle Korver gets hot as LeBron, Cavs top Raptors

Former Bulls in the playoffs: Kyle Korver gets hot as LeBron, Cavs top Raptors

Just about the only difference between the Kyle Korver who Bulls fans remember and the one playing in Toronto last night was that he didn't come off the bench.

Korver, a member of the original Bench Mob in Chicago in 2011, was one of the supporting cast members who picked up LeBron James and Kevin Love in Tuesday's Game 1 win over the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The 37-year-old finished with 19 points, including five 3-pointers, and was a key cog in the third quarter as the Cavaliers tried to keep things close against the top-seeded Raptors.

Korver hit a pair of long jumpers with his foot on the 3-point line to get it going, and later in the period hit back-to-back 3-pointers to keep the Cavaliers afloat after Toronto had pushed its lead to 10 points.

Korver didn't score in the fourth quarter but was clutch in overtime, hitting a 3-pointer to get the extra period started that gave the Cavs the lead for good.

The 19 points were necessary on a night when James and Kevin Love combined to go 15 of 43. Korver has one distinct role on the Cavaliers: be shot-ready as soon as a James drive-and-kick finds him. In Game 1 he was 7 of 17 from the field with five 3-pointers, and both 2-pointers were jumpers.

He's been streaky in the postseason but did come up clutch in Round 1 against the Pacers. He scored 18 points in Game 4 to help the Cavs even up the series, and then the Cavs took a 3-2 series lead in Game 5 behind, in part, Korver's 19 points. He was held scoreless in Game 1 and 3 losses and had 6 and 3 points in Games 6 and 7 against the Pacers, so Ty Lue and the Cavs will have to hope his streaky shooting stays hot if they intend to knock off Raptors and advance to the conference finals.

Rajon Rondo: The Pelicans now trail the Warriors 2-0 in their best of seven series, but not because of Rondo. #PlayoffRondo was at it again with 22 points, seven rebounds, 12 assists and five steals in Game 2. He did commit seven turnovers but was otherwise great, even connecting on three 3-pointers and making all three of his free throws. Stopping the Warriors offense is another discussion, but Rondo is still putting up massive lines for the Pellies. Rondo was actually a +2 in the five-point loss.

Nikola Mirotic: A bounce-back performance for Threekola, who finished with 18 points and nine rebounds in the Game 2 loss.

Bulls in the playoffs: Nikola Mirotic can't miss and the Pelicans are up 3-0

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USA TODAY

Bulls in the playoffs: Nikola Mirotic can't miss and the Pelicans are up 3-0

When the Bulls traded Nikola Mirotic to the Pelicans on Feb. 1, the consensus belief was that the deal was a win-win for both sides.

That still may be true, but the way Mirotic has played the last two weeks has made invaluable to the Pelicans, who hold a commanding 3-0 lead on the Blazers following Thursday night's blowout win.

Mirotic was back at it again, scoring a playoff career-high 30 points on 12 of 15 shooting, making 4 of 6 3-poiners, and added eight rebounds, three steals and a block. Oh, and he did all this in 30 minutes.

Mirotic has been great in three games against the third-seeded Blazers, averaging 21.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 2.3 blocks while shooting a ridiculous .585/.478/1.000.

But it's really been a two-week tear for Mirotic during the Pelicans' eight-game winning streak going back to the final 10 days of the regular season.

In those eight games Mirotic has averaged 24.0 points, 10.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.4 steals and has shot 57 percent from the field.

The Bulls are happy to have the 22nd overall pick in June's draft, but at this rate would they rather have Mirotic still in the fold? He seems to have turned the corner. Remarkable stuff. At the very least, it's easy to root for him.

Rajon Rondo, Pelicans: #PlayoffRondo, who we featured two days ago, was also back at it in Game 3, going for 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting, five rebounds and 11 more assists. He now has a league-high 37 assists in three games against the Blazers and has played excellent defense on that dangerous Blazers backcourt. He's also shooting 50 percent from the field. This is incredible stuff.

Marco Belinelli, Sixers: More remarkable stuff from a player who was an afterthought until about a month ago. Belinelli, who played 52 games with the Hawks before his release, has exploded in the postseason with Philadelphia. He scored 21 points on 7 of 13 shooting and hit four more 3-pointers, giving him 10 in the series. The Sixers are up 2-1 thanks in large part to Belinelli's 20.7 points and 1.7 steals. He remains a key cog off the bench.

Bulls in the playoffs: Playoff Rondo is at it again

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USA TODAY

Bulls in the playoffs: Playoff Rondo is at it again

Bulls fans have seen this before.

Rajon Rondo. In the first round of a playoff series. On the road. Dominating. Helping his team take a 2-0 series lead.

Sorry if it brings back bad memories for you, but Rondo has been sensational in the first two games of the New Orleans Pelicans' postseason tilts against the Portland Trail Blazers.

After dropping 17 assists in Game 1, Rondo was back at it again on Tuesday night with 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Pelicans took a second straight game in Portland. For the series Rondo is now averaging 11.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 13.0 assists while shooting 45 percent from the field. He also hit two 3-pointers in Game 2, including the dagger from the left corner with less than a minute to play.

Bulls fans, of course, know this feeling. Rondo owned the first two games of last year's playoff series between the Bulls and top-seeded Celtics. He averaged 11.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 10.0 assists (including 3.5 steals) as the Bulls took both road games in Boston. That was the end of the good news, as Rondo suffered a broken thumb in practice and missed the rest of the series, which the Bulls lost in six games.

Hopefully Rondo avoids any injury this time around as he, Nikola Mirotic and E'Twaun Moore - all the former Bulls! - attempt to upset Dame and the Blazers.

Just look at the similarities in the photo below.