What this Season Could Have Been for the Chicago Bulls

With the Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat second round NBA playoff series starting tonight, I cannot help but think about what this season could have been for the Bulls.

Thus far, the Miami Heat are looking like they’re in a good position to defend their championship title. LeBron James, who just earned his 4th MVP award, and the Heat will be rested and ready to face the Bulls after their first round sweep over the Milwaukee Bucks 

The Bulls, on the other hand, are coming off of their series against the Brooklyn Nets that went to 7 games.  As a result, they will be playing the Heat on one day of rest following their hard fought first round series.

If Derrick Rose had never torn his ACL about a year ago, I wonder what position the Bulls would be in right now?

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Without Rose, the Bulls finished 5th in the Eastern Conference.  If Rose had never been injured, I believe that the Bulls would have been a very strong team this season.  They likely would have had more wins during the season which would have possibly given them a better seed and a different opponent for this round.

As long as everyone else on the Bulls had the same kind of season they had this year, I would even go as far as saying that I believe the Bulls could have been the strongest competition for the Heat (especially considering Russell Westbrook’s injury now). Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich, and Luol Deng have all had good seasons.

While I do think it would be nothing short of amazing if they win this series against the Heat, I am not completely counting the Bulls out.  They do have a steep up hill battle though.  They were the team that ended Miami’s streak earlier this season, but that was one game, not the four they need to win the series.

The Bulls do have some health problems besides Rose to worry about for the up coming games that will have a big impact on their ability to hang in their with the Heat. Luol Deng has been sick with something similar to the flu and had complications from a procedure at the hospital.  Kirk Hinrich is day-to-day because of a calf injury.  Also, Joakim Noah has had a consistent foot injury, plantar fasciitis, for much of the second half of the season.  Noah’s injury needs rest and he played a lot of minutes in the Bulls last two games, so that could be a concern moving forward.

Could Rose come back for this playoff series? Pretty much since the All-Start break, there has been questions about him returning. There was even talk yesterday about him playing the Miami Heat tonight. You never know, but I doubt he will play tonight or this series.  I think if he is going to play, it would have made a lot of sense for him to start by building up minutes or at least playing some in the Bulls first round series against the Nets.  Also, I cannot imagine that he would want his first game back to be against the Heat’s defense.  We will see though.  He has not said he will not play.  It would certainly be exciting to see how things go if he does play.

Although this could have been a completely different match up than it is, it’s not reality. I am still looking forward to watching this series.  Maybe there will be the chance next year to see how the Bulls with Rose match up with the Heat.

Until next time,

Hannah

Photo Credit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Derrick_Rose_2.jpg

Home Runs

Yesterday, there were 50 home runs hit in the MLB. That’s a lot of baseballs going out of the park.

Although they don’t all involve actual home runs, here are a few “home run” performances in sports that have occurred lately.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics hit a “home run” tonight with a 92-86 win against the New York Knicks. This brings the series to 3-2.  Kevin Garnett had a fantastic game for the Celtics with 16 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks. The Celtics looked like there season was going to be over soon when they went down 0-3 in the series, but the win tonight has made this quite the series.  We’ll see if the Celtics can hit another home run Friday in the next game which is in Boston.  A win on Friday would set them up for the potential to make history and hit a grand slam.

The Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians contributed to the 50 home run total yesterday by hitting 7 in their 14-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. This was not the first “home run” of a game the Indians have had lately.  Following a 0-9 loss to the Royals on Sunday, they bounced back and beat them 10-3 in the second game of a double header.  They got another win against the Royals on Monday.  There streak continued tonight with a 6-0 win against the Phillies.

Stephen Curry

The NBA playoffs have started with many lopsided series, but Golden State and Denver have been exciting to watch.  One reason the series has been great is because of Steph Curry. The former Davidson College guard has had some great playoff games, including a 22-point third quarter in game 4 of the series.  He struggled a little bit in Golden State’s last game against Denver, but he is still averaging 24.8 points and 9.8 assists in his 5 playoff games.  This has helped Golden State to have a 3-2 lead and another chance to win the series tomorrow (Thursday, May 2) night.

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Until next time,

Hannah

Photo Sources

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1a/Stephen_Curry_2.jpg

Can they Comeback?

One aspect of sports that I really enjoy are the comeback stories.  Sports create some circumstances that allow a person to overcome the odds and return to where they once were or even achieve more than they had before their comeback.  Yesterday, was the last day of the NBA regular season.  As the season concluded, the basketball world has presented several comeback stories that will be worth watching in the upcoming days, months and years.

Tracy McGrady

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Photo credit: Keith Allison

T-Mac was playing in China this season after not getting signed to an NBA team, but it is working out for him because he is making a NBA comeback to play for the San Antonio Spurs just in time for the playoffs.  He is eligible to play even though the Spurs signed him after the NBA trade deadline because he was not signed on another NBA team.

Will this comeback allow him to be on a team that wins his first playoffs series?  It looks like there is a decent chance.  I am just not sure how much playing time he will get or how much of an impact he will have on the Spurs.  I’ll be rooting for him to have a comeback though!

Kobe Bryant

Photo credit: Steve Lanctot

Photo credit: Steve Lanctot

One reason that Tracy McGrady may get his first play-off series win is that the Spurs will be playing an LA Lakers team without Kobe Bryant in the first round.

Kobe Bryant was in top form for almost the entire 2013 NBA regular season.  The LA Lakers made it to the playoffs this season largely because of Kobe’s contributions. Kobe tore his Achilles tendon last Friday and at best will not return to playing in basketball games for 6-9 months.  Other than this injury, not much else could stop Kobe this season.

Achilles are tough to come back from.  There is a lot that needs to happen correctly for a successful recovery before he can even start to prepare for basketball.

Only time will tell if Kobe can beat the odds, make a full comeback and try to get his 6th NBA championship.  It’s hard to doubt Kobe… he just had an amazing year in his 17th season in the NBA.

Phil Jackson

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Another big story in the NBA is that Phil Jackson wants to comeback to the game. This may have been expected because he tried to return to coaching earlier this season by reuniting with the Lakers when they were searching for a coach.  Interestingly, he is currently saying his return to the NBA may be in management, not coaching.

I think a lot of NBA teams would like to have Phil Jackson.  It will be interesting to see where he ends up if he has a comeback.

Until next time,

Hannah

Photo Sources

Keeping it in the Family

Sibling’s have a special connection.  I cannot imagine what it would be like to play with, or against, a sibling in a professional sport.  In honor of Siblings Day, these are some of my favorite siblings in sports right now.

Peyton and Eli Manning

The Manning brothers have won 3 combined Super Bowls.  Combined, they have also made 15 pro bowl appearances.  Although they compete against each other, they always seem to be very supportive of each other.  They can even be spotted working out at the same place in the off season.

They have also shown they have a great sense of humor…

Marc and Pau Gasol

The Gasol brothers have combined to have 5 All-Star game appearances in the NBA.  They have also come together to help Spain win two silver medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Venus and Serena Williams

For almost 15 years (Venus won 2 Grand Slams in 1999), the William sisters have dominated in women’s tennis.  They have won 13 Grand Slam doubles titles together and 3 Olympic gold medals in women’s doubles.  They have also won a combined 22 Grand Slam singles titles.

B.J. and Justin Upton

The Atlanta Braves signed the both Upton brothers this past off season.  So far, uniting the siblings is working well for Atlanta (and not so well for the Cubs).

Bob and Mike Bryan

The Bryan brothers have won 13 Grand Slam doubles titles together.  They also won the gold medal together in the 2012 Olympics. These twins even play music in a band together.

Until next time,

Hannah

It may still be cold outside, but the Heat have been HOT

The Miami Heat lost last night after a 27 game win streak.  While they fell short of breaking the NBA record of 33 games, it was incredibly impressive to have put together this win streak.  Before this streak if someone had told me the Heat (or any NBA team) won 27 straight games, I would have thought they were talking about a video game.

To put the length of the streak into perspective, here are some events that have happened since they last lost…

Feb. 3, 2013the Superbowl 

Feb. 11 — The Harlem Shake had approximately 12,000 versions on YouTube with over 44 million views.

The Heat made a funny version of the video…

And the Minnesota Timberwolves responded…

The Harlem Shake trend ended well before Miami’s win streak.

Feb. 23 — Denver Nuggets began their own impressive 15 game win streak that lasted exactly a month.

Photo Credit: Keith Allisonhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ty_Lawson_Nuggets.jpg

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

End of Feb. through beginning of MarchDennis Rodman Visited North Korea, and spent time watching basketball with Kim Jong Un.

Photo Credit: Walter Huang

Photo Credit: Walter Huang

Will Kobe be the next basketball player to visit North Korea?

March 3 — Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens agree on a new contract that makes Flacco the highest paid player in the NFL.

March 13 — Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected by the Catholic cardinals to be the new Pope.

Photo Credit: Roberto Stuckert Filho

Photo Credit: Roberto Stuckert Filho

March 18 Heat beat Boston Celtics in Boston, despite Jeff Green’s career-high 43 point effort.

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

March 21 — The NCAA men’s basketball tournament began, meaning that many NCAA basketball teams (including the UNC basketball team) played about half of their whole season, most of their conference games, and their entire conference tournament during the Heat’s streak.

March 25 — The Heat are still on their hot streak, but much of the mid-west and east coast were covered with snow.

March 27 — The Heat’s streak comes to an end after 51 days.

While they did not break the record, a lot has happened in the world since the Heat went on their win streak.  It will be interesting to see how they finish out the season.

Until next time,

Hannah

Photo sources:

Accepting the Luck of the Draw

I love the NCAA tournament.  Nothing is quite like excitment of the tournament.  So much is on the line for each team in every game.  There are underdogs, close games, upsets, and Cinderella stories that are so fun to watch.

There have been some great moments in the NCAA tournament the past few days, but  something I have come to realize is that the national champion in a year like this could, at least  in-part, be very determined by the luck of the draw.  This is a result of having an amazing single-elimination tournament where 68 teams have the chance to fight for the national championship. I am not at all saying that luck decides the champion because clearly who ever wins the tournament has done the work and has the skills to create that opportunity. Yet, I do think that it is worth considering how one seeding/region difference could completely change the tournament.

At first, I thought this was a flaw in the system.  I could not think of how it is just to have the national champion be in-part determined by luck of the draw?   After further thought, I have come to the conclusion that the who, what, and where of the tournament is what makes things unpredictable.  While this might not help individual teams in certain situations, it makes the tournament that much better.

Who makes the tournament is definitely a factor for the entire tournament.  Since a team can get selected by the tournament committee or earn a spot by winning there conference, sometimes pretty solid teams just miss being selected for the tournament.  While it is unlikely a team that is not selected for the tournament would win the national championship, they could be in better position for an upset.  It’s great for teams to be able to earn a bid to the tournament by winning their conference (like NC A&T), but in some cases a higher seed could have an easier draw as a result of it.

What seed a team receives also shapes the tournament.  There is a fine line between who receives many of the seeds.  This seeding determines the match up, and some teams just match up better with certain styles than others.  Upsets may be caused, or avoided, based on seeding.

Where the games are played can also influence the tournament, even though games are played on a neutral court.  For instance, it certainly does not hurt for a team like Ohio State to play its first two rounds in Dayton, Ohio or Kansas to be in Kansas City.

I love the NCAA tournament, and I now have an appreciation for what luck of the draw brings to the tournament.  It makes it possible for basically anything to happen, even the most unlikely upsets.

Madness before March

Overview

March is here.  For me, the beginning of March is a reminder of March Madness, the most exciting weeks of college basketball.  As the regular season winds down, it is a great time to look at  some statistical madness from this season that may impact the upcoming conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament.

UNC has put up some impressive numbers in team offense and assists

Davidson is shooting free throws almost like they’re layups (I’m not joking)

Jordan Hulls has proved himself to be an excellent three point shooter

If you haven’t heard of Mike Muscala, you should read about the season he is having.

Summary and Analysis

Teams

1.

I admit it, I am a bit biased, but the UNC basketball team has produced some impressive stats this season.  UNC’s offense is currently ranked 14th in the nation (77.7 ppg).  UNC is averaging 17.8 assists per game, which puts the team at 2nd in the nation in assists per game.   Reggie Bullock is 13th in the nation in three point field goal percentage (44.4%).  Also, Dexter Strickland has the 5th best assist-to-turnover  ratio in the nation (3.22).

2.

As of February 28, the Davidson College basketball teams free throw percentage is 81.2%… the team has made 492 of its 606 free throw attempts.  To put that in perspective, only 42 players in the NBA are shooting a higher free throw percentage than Davidson’s entire teamNik Cochran leads the Wildcats (and the country) shooting an astonishing 95.4% from the line (103 for 108)Davidson,  23-7 (17-1), is first place in the Southern Conference.  That is not a team that you want to be forced to intentionally foul at the end of a game.

Individuals

1.

Jordan Hulls, a junior guard at Indiana, currently leads the country in 3 point field goal percentage shooting 48.6% (71 of 146) from behind the arc. This season, Kyle Kover and Stephen Curry lead the NBA in three point percentage. Although they have both shot more three pointers, they have shot 46.2% and 45.2% respectively from behind the arc.

Indiana is ranked number 2 in the nation in this week’s polls, and Hulls is someone to look out for in Big Ten conference tournament and NCAA tournament.

2.

Bucknell, 25-5 (12-2), are currently in first place in the Patriot League.  They are 12th in the nation for win-loss percentage.

Bucknell Forward Mike Muscala has lead the team to their success.   Muscala is ranked 3rd in the nation in double-doubles (he has had 19 double-doubles in 30 games).  In addition he is 4th in the nation in rebounds per game (11 rpg), 24th in the nation in blocked shots per game (2.5 per game), 25th in the nation in points per game (19.1 ppg), and 63rd in the nation in field goal percentage (52.3%).

Muscala has been dominant this season.  Look out for him the rest of this season.

Sources

http://www.ncaa.com/stats/basketball-men/d1

http://www.nba.com/statistics