Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ben, Ben, Ben

First, a little congrats go out to our boys. With the win on Thursday over the Pistons, the Bulls clinched a spot in the playoffs for the third straight year. Excellent news, even in the terrible East.

Saturday was just an incredibly entertaining -- and eventually frustrating -- game. Tyrus was great, finishing with 27 and 8 and only three misses all day long (including 9/10 from the stripe). It was just about this time last year, after a slower start once conference started, that he really hit his stride in the Bayou. Let's hope he keeps this pace up. Kirk was also great. It's painfully obvious that the Bulls lose most of their offensive flow when Kirk has to sit. It happened against the Pistons and it happened again today at the end of the first and into the second. While he is a tough on-the-ball defender, it might serve him well to cool off a little bit early on, so as not to draw those ticky-tack fouls. But in the end, it was Ben, who put up 37 (37 dicks!) but couldn't get it done down the stretch. When Wallace doesn't force the defense to look at him, the lane gets really clogged up. Gordon just didn't recognize that on a few places and started forcing it. You'd like to see him hit one of those game-winners to get the monkey off his back. Oh yeah, James is decent, too.

A few other thoughts. Someone should tell Gooden that he missed a spot on the top of his neck, there's no way that Pavlovic got that timeout called at the end of regulation and it doesn't matter, Walton, whether Salvatore or Zarby calls a charge on Lebron; all three of those were good calls.

Even with the loss, I think the Bulls are in decent shape to secure the second spot. Of the big three in the Central, I think the Bulls have the easiest road to hoe. The Pistons will need to pick up some tough wins against Toronto (twice), Miami, Cleveland and the Bulls (although four of those five are at home). Cleveland has a trecherous five game stretch (@ Bos, @ Min, vs Miami, @Wash and @ Det). The Bulls, in their last eight, have two tough roadies (Pistons, Raptors) but nothing else too intimidating. That second seed is really important too, no matter what Hanley tells you. Playing the Heat, with a healthy D-Wade, is a MUCH worse option than any of the weenies fighting for the last two spots. We don't match up so well with Howard and Co. for whatever reason, but Shaq is a much bigger problem. Plus, you avoid a second round match-up in Detroit.

On to the final four. Hoya saxa.