It is the growing sports epidemic of the 21st century, where being the best team in the regular season of any of the four major professional leagues has never meant so little for the postseason. In fact, not only are the trophy cases of such teams likely to be empty at playoffs' end, but these regular season champions are lucky if they get past their first playoff opponent.
He was whispering to his son as the weight of the game, the season and his entire career thrust itself down upon him with 2.2 seconds remaining. His son was far away, out of sight, but Andre Iguodala spoke to him all the same.
The Chicago Bulls are grievously outmanned, short on offensive production and thin off the bench. They may not win another game in this series, but the sheer effort they showed in their 77-69 Game 5 victory over the Sixers was pretty inspiring. This was not what you would call a pretty basketball game, but there was something beautiful in the Bulls' resilience, fire and especially their elite defense. Even playing without Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose, it's easy to see how this team won 50 games during the regular season.
It wasn't pretty for either team, but the 76ers' 89-82 victory over the Bulls in Philadelphia on Sunday will hold a certain beauty only a defensive-minded team with no superstars can appreciate. After getting manhandled in the series opener, the Sixers pushed the top-seeded Bulls to the brink of elimination with their third straight victory in the series. Philadelphia gritted its way through a low-scoring game, made all the clutch plays down the stretch, and pushed the injury-riddled Bulls -- still searching for a leader after losing Derrick Rose late in the series opener -- into a 3-1 series hole.
The scene was all too familiar. The Bulls led 45-42 with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter, firmly in command of Game 3 against the 76ers. They held Philadelphia to just 1-of-10 shooting to start the second half, and following an emotional letdown Tuesday, seemed ready to regain control of the series. They were playing selfless Chicago basketball. They looked every bit the team that went 18-9 without Derrick Rose during the regular season.
Yes, Chicago, things have changed with Derrick Rose out for the season. You can claim the goal is still a championship. You can say each player just needs to contribute a little more to make that happen. But when you look at Philadelphia's 109-92 victory Tuesday night, you're fooling yourself if you don't see a completely different first-round series. These weren't the same Bulls who tied for the league's best record while Rose missed 26 games with five different injuries. These weren't the Bulls who used their deep bench to weather the loss of several other key players throughout the regular season. These Bulls looked lost offensively and had no answers defensively as Philadelphia attacked in transition, on the boards and at the rim while tying the series 1-1 and significantly altering the Bulls' playoff image.
The faces were all the same with 1:10 remaining in the fourth quarter Saturday at the United Center in Chicago: sunken expressions, hands clasped to support chins, mouths closed. And they all had to be asking the same question: Why was Derrick Rose on the court at that point in the Bulls' 103-91 victory against the Sixers when the game was already decided? Fair or not, that became the question that will loom over Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau after Rose tore the ACL in his left knee at a time when Chicago was tying a bow on an impressive playoff opener. After the game, Thibodeau was asked about his decision to have Rose in the game with the Bulls still leading by 12 despite Philadelphia's 14-6 run. "I don't work backward like you guys do," Thibodeau said. "The score was going the other way."
The 76ers will be hoping for a low-scoring series, as they are limited offensively while ranking among the best in the league defensively. The Bulls were the most resilient team in the league, earning the top seed overall despite persistent injuries to their three starters on the wing -- reigning MVP Derrick Rose, All-Star Luol Deng and former All-Star and champion, Richard Hamilton. The anemic Sixers backed into the playoffs after leading the Atlantic Division for much of the season. They'll hope to come up with easy scores in transition, but the defensively focused Bulls are likely to prevent that from happening.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- To understand how hard it is to win a championship, consider the burdens of the Magic. They have one of the three most valuable players in the league (alongside Kobe Bryant and LeBron James) to go with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. And yet they don't look close to contending for the title over the next three months.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Derrick Rose is turning out to be more valuable on the bench than Dwight Howard and other NBA stars have been on the floor. With their defense setting a franchise record in an 85-59 win over the Magic on Monday, the Bulls improved to 10-4 this year in the absence of Rose, the injured MVP. Their winning rate of 71.4 percent without him is better than all but two teams -- Oklahoma City and Miami -- in the everyday standings.
When Randy Brown returned to Chicago a decade after playing his part in the Michael Jordan heyday, he made a decision about whether he'd share the old war stories with the franchise's newest star, Derrick Rose.
Editor's note: This story originally ran on April 20, 2011.
The firing of Kurt Rambis on July 12 was hardly surprising. In an offseason filled with questions about whether there will even be a next season, the dismissal of a coach who led the Timberwolves to a 32-132 record in two years seemed appropriate. Rambis, though, was the last coach utilizing the triangle offense, and with his departure, the NBA, whenever it chooses to return, is now without the most successful offensive system the league has known.
SI.com asked several current and retired SI writers to offer reflections on the best team they ever covered as sports journalists. Here's Phil Taylor on the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls:
It's never too soon to start thinking about next season (assuming there is one, of course), and the online gambling site Bodog has the early lines on the favorites. Miami (5-to-2) leads the field, while Toronto (150-1) is the longest of the long shots. Here's a look at the top six contenders on the board and our view of their chances of winning the championship in 2012, with the caveat that the effect of the new collective bargaining agreement on roster decisions is obviously a huge unknown.
CHICAGO -- This is why there can be no doubt anymore of the Heat's championship potential. They came, they stunk, they won.
CHICAGO -- The Heat have been the hungriest team for the last three games, but that could change now that the Bulls are facing elimination on their home floor.
MIAMI -- The Heat look as if they're steadily pulling away in this Eastern Conference final, beating Chicago a second straight time to take a 2-1 lead going into Game 4 on Tuesday. Here are some observations from Miami's 96-85 victory:
CHICAGO -- The Evil Empire doesn't exist.
CHICAGO -- They were headed down the same wastrel path to a fifth straight overall loss to the Bulls and a 0-2 deficit in the Eastern Conference finals. The ball would come off Chicago's rim and the Heat would not, could not, control the defensive rebound. Within six minutes the Bulls already held a 7-0 advantage in offensive boards and a 9-3 rebounding lead overall.
CHICAGO -- If you think Miami won't respond to its humbling 103-82 loss in Game 1 against the Bulls, then you haven't been paying attention. Throughout this season Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh have been exposed, and they wouldn't have reached the Eastern Conference finals if they hadn't learned from those embarrassing times.
The Eastern Conference finals opening game between the Bulls and Heat was the most-viewed NBA game in history on cable television, TNT announced Monday. The network's coverage of the Bulls' 103-92 romp drew 11.1 million total viewers and a 6.2 U.S. household rating, topping TNT's previous record of 10.8 million viewers for Michael Jordan's last All-Star Game, in 2003.
Chicago Bulls stories in the SI Vault
CHICAGO -- Wasn't Miami supposed to have a dominating 2-to-1 advantage in stars? The Bulls turned that weakness into an oppressive strength in their 103-82 win in Game 1 on Sunday. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James won't have any chance in this Eastern Conference final if they continue trying to go 2-on-5 against this stifling defense.
The Eastern Conference finals creates a matchup of recent MVPs -- Derrick Rose vs. LeBron James -- that nobody would have predicted a year ago. They embody this rejuvenated era of open-court dunking, slashing drives and an insatiable talent for creating any kind of shot.
ATLANTA -- With 4:57 remaining in a series that produced some intriguing storylines if not last-second drama, Derrick Rose slapped palms with C.J. Watson and headed for the Chicago bench. He walked down a line of teammates, grabbed his black sweat jacket and sat down to witness reserves on both teams determine the final score.
As the second round nears its conclusion, four SI.com NBA writers take stock of some of the biggest playoff storylines.
CHICAGO -- After the Bulls' uninspired loss in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, many in NBA circles speculated that their youth was finally catching up to them. It was supposedly a classic case of inexperience wilting under pressure, a young team failing to live up to its high expectations.
The tone of the Hawks-Bulls series has dramatically changed after Friday's Game 3. An MVP performance from the league's MVP can do that. Derrick Rose poured in a career-high 44 points, handed out seven assists and had five rebounds and the Bulls dominated the Hawks, 99-82, regaining home-court advantage in the series. The Bulls' lead is just 2-1, but momentum is squarely with the East's top seed and anything beyond five games is hard to picture at this point.
The Lakers have been my default choice to reach the NBA Finals. I'd been assuming we'd see them meet either the Celtics or Heat in June, a dreamy matchup that would build on the tremendous following the league has been creating all season.
CHICAGO -- Minutes before tip-off of Game 2 against Atlanta, Derrick Rose was presented the MVP trophy at midcourt, the youngest player to win the NBA's most coveted honor. Chants of "M-V-P" bellowed from the rafters. The United Center rattled with anticipation. "In a league of very valuable players, you are the most valuable," commissioner David Stern offered upon handing over the award.
As Derrick Rose limped away from a stunning 103-95 loss to Atlanta in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday night, the message was clear: Don't treat Atlanta like an underdog. The Hawks jumped out to an early lead and withstood the Bulls' second-half rally behind Joe Johnson's 34-point night as Atlanta, which played deep in the shadows of the East's powers all season, continued to show that it shouldn't be taken lightly.
It's not as if Kirk Hinrich was about to become the Derrick Rose stopper.
After dropping the first three games of the series by a combined 15 points, the Indiana Pacers notched their first victory of the first round in a nail-biter. A late 18-3 run by the Bulls sliced the Pacers' substantial advantage to a single point with 15 seconds remaining, but four made free throws by Danny Granger and a strong defensive effort from the Pacers on a potentially game-tying Bulls possession kept the game just out of reach.
You may have seen this movie before: The Chicago Bulls trailed with 5:20 left, only to rally behind Derrick Rose (who scored 14 fourth-quarter points) to notch a 96-90 Game 2 victory and take a 2-0 series lead over the gutsy Indiana Pacers on Monday. Rose, led the way with 36 points, eight rebounds and six assists, as the 62-win Bulls once again struggled to overcome the 37-win Pacers.
Oddly enough, the Bulls and Pacers -- two teams that forged their postseason berths on the strength of their respective defenses -- both experienced varying degrees of defensive futility in the first game of their series. The fact that the series took an offensive tilt in Game 1 favored Indiana, but Chicago was nonetheless able to pull out a victory by way of having the most dynamic offensive player on the floor. The Bulls' overall offense may not be elite, but Derrick Rose certainly is, and the likely MVP led his team on an impressive fourth quarter run to seal the game.
CHICAGO -- Luol Deng sauntered into the locker room before one of the Bulls' final regular-season matchups looking relaxed, donning a gray pullover, black compression shorts and long socks that sprouted from his flip-flops. He plopped in front of his locker for a moment, lacing up his sneakers while chatting with a reporter. His glowing white smile matched the freshly cleaned jersey behind him. He stood up and glanced at Carlos Boozer sprawled across the floor, completely absorbed in game tape, and casually strolled out the door. He was loose. He was ready to play.
He is someone you might want for a son. Except you can't adopt him. He's somebody else's favorite son. Derrick Rose, raised to be humble, groomed to be great, is Chicago Jr.
While other high seeds have staggered over the past month -- the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Mavericks and Heat -- the Bulls have never stopped surging. They have won nine games in a row and 21 of 23 with the presumptive MVP (Derrick Rose) and potential coach of the year (Tom Thibodeau). After scraping into the playoffs the past two seasons as the No. 8 seed, they have become the most consistent and diligent team in the NBA. The Pacers aspire to be what the Bulls (62-20) once were: an underdog throwing a scare. Interim coach Frank Vogel has steered the Pacers to the playoffs for the first time in five years, dialing up the tempo and resuscitating former North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough, but the Pacers (37-45) still have a losing record and no margin for error.
My annual review of money and how it has been spent finds a total of approximately $2.03 billion was obligated to the players, which, by my count, amounts to a reduction of $82.3 million in player salaries since last season.
CHICAGO -- The last time Derrick Rose played a meaningful game against Boston he walked off a loser. His exit came in Game 7 of an epic 2009 first-round series. He was just a kid then, a 20-something playing alongside a bunch of 20-somethings who succeeded with sheer power and athleticism -- and, of course, Ben Gordon's white-hot jump shot.
Several playoff matchups appear to be in place, but there is much to be decided over the final four weeks of the season.
Derrick Rose stories in the SI Vault
No one envisioned so much activity. "It's pretty quiet," a general manager said of leaguewide trade talks following the All-Star Game on Sunday. Then Carmelo Anthony went to New York, which inspired New Jersey to ask for Deron Williams, and suddenly deals that didn't seem possible were courted and consummated. The dealing and the reckoning isn't done yet. Here are the five major outcomes of this year's trade deadline:
In the final strains of the national anthem, Taj Gibson closes his eyes, bows his head, and asks three fallen friends to come join him on the floor. "I always get teary right at the end," Gibson said. "That's how I know they've heard me." He refers to them by nicknames -- Cakes, Cookiehead and Johnny -- part of the group he grew up with in Brooklyn, who flew across the country to visit him at USC, celebrated with him the night he became a first-round draft pick, and watched him evolve into an unlikely starter as a rookie for the Bulls last season. They would leave him re-assuring post-game voicemails that he now cannot bring himself to erase.
Ask new Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau the keys to strong team defense, and he sets forth the principles with the metronomic efficiency of a teller in a toll booth.
It's obvious that the Miami Heat are talented enough to match or exceed the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' NBA record of 72 wins in a season. The Heat's trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh could be as potent a three-man core as any in league history. But getting to 72 or beyond requires more than just superior talent. It takes a ton of other qualities as well, like health, unselfishness, toughness (both physical and mental), single-mindedness and no small degree of luck. A team that possesses all those qualities has a chance to make history. But only a chance.
Disappointment. That's the best way to sum up the divergent reasons why seven of the 30 NBA teams opted to change coaches after the 2009-10 season.
Here is an early -- but not premature -- look at how the top of the Eastern Conference shapes up for next season now that most of the important trades and signings have been made. The following teams are capable of winning 50 games.
As the mania from the LeBron James circus finally begins to abate, we can snap back from the soap opera and remember the basketball. Instead of feverishly chasing the latest rundown on how and when which billionaire was stooping to kiss the still-nonexistent ring of the King, we can take a broader look around the NBA and see that Miami has some company when it comes to shrewd front offices that have done a noteworthy job with their resources this summer.
Every year around this time, for as much as we are reminded that legendary careers are validated with a championship, we also are reminded that greatness isn't solely defined by success in the Finals. Players such as Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley, whose statistics and playoff appearances and All-Star votes leave little doubt as to their places in history, are often remembered in June for the honor they didn't achieve, as if their careers are not complete without the hardware that places a stamp on their greatness.
CHICAGO -- Every day, people from all across the world make the trip out to Madison Street in Chicago -- sometimes alone, sometimes by the busload. They make the 10-minute detour out of the city center just to see a statue of the world's most famous basketball player frozen in time, in that iconic pose with a ball in his right hand and his legs leaping, giving the illusion that he's flying through thin air.
Earlier this season, Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James said that he was switching his jersey from No. 23 to No. 6 because he wanted to honor Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.
Ken Rosenthal does not look the part. Slight of frame, measured in tone and unlikely to appear on Dancing With the Stars in this or any other lifetime, Rosenthal is the first to admit Fox Sports did not hire him as a field reporter because he is, in his words, "Mr. Television." But the 47-year-old field reporter for Fox's Major League Baseball broadcast has become one of the best sports voices on television, a prepared, thoughtful and straight-shooting chronicler of his game. "He gives our broadcast incredible ballast," said Fox play-by-play announcer Joe Buck. "There's a credibility factor there."
The Phoenix Suns have a chance to win one of the most remarkable championships in NBA history. Their star point guard, Steve Nash, is 36 and playing with a broken nose and black eye. Their leading scorer, Amar'e Stoudemire, has been available to the right bidder for so long that the Suns replaced his locker room stall with a FedEx box. Starting forward Grant Hill is on his second career.
This looked like the Cavaliers' year, but in six games they were divided and dominated by Boston. Will their ultimate championship hopes now be dismantled by LeBron James? You might not have heard about this, but he will be a free agent July 1.
In 1997, after winning 16 of their final 21 games, including a winner-take-all clash with the Cavaliers on the last day of the season, the Washington Bullets advanced to the playoffs for the first time in eight years, where they faced the defending champion Bulls.
The Cavs escaped Game 5 and the first round with a 96-94 home victory against Chicago on Tuesday. The details will be lost amid the speculation over LeBron James' elbow, which was so sore at the end of the game that he shot a free throw left-handed.
Cleveland superstar LeBron James decided to outdo Dwyane Wade. James posted his fifth career playoff triple-double to lead the Cavaliers to a decisive 121-98 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon. With the Cavaliers holding a 3-1 series lead and the series headed back to Cleveland, the only question is not if, but when, Cleveland advances to the second round.
Thanks to a 31-point showing from Derrick Rose, the Bulls built a 21-point lead over the Cavs before finishing them off 108-106 in Game 3 on Thursday. Though LeBron James, whose furious charge in the fourth was ultimately unsuccessful, and the Cavs still lead the series 2-1, could the Bulls have found a weakness in Cleveland's armor? Not quite, but Game 4 should be interesting.
Before Nuggets coach Adrian Dantley stepped onto the court last Saturday night at the Pepsi Center, he tucked a list of 20 plays into the breast pocket of his 42 extra long. The list included an isolation play for point guard Chauncey Billups, a rip screen for center Nene and a zipper cut designed to free forward Carmelo Anthony at the top of the circle for a three-pointer. "I've got to keep these close by," Dantley said, patting his lapel. They are the plays he likes to call during timeouts, when he sits on a folding chair in front of the Denver bench, a dozen sets of eager eyes riveted on him. In the two months since George Karl took his leave of absence to undergo neck and throat cancer treatments and Dantley was named the interim replacement, there have been moments he froze in front of all those eyes and said his mind "went blank." And that was just in the regular season.
Credit the visiting Bulls for making the league's best team sweat through the fourth quarter before the Cavs completed their inevitable 112-102 win in Game 2 on Monday.
Two days into the playoffs and we've already had a brawl, a suspension and an upset. In the East, a late-game dustup between the Heat and Celtics resulted in an ejection and one-game ban for Kevin Garnett, while the Trail Blazers -- without Brandon Roy and playing in Phoenix -- prevailed over the Suns.
Coach Mike Brown and the Cavaliers couldn't have scripted Game 1 any better than it happened. And though Cleveland was taking on an overmatched and possibly distracted (see Vinny Del Negro vs. John Paxson) Bulls team, the Cavs made it clear why most favor them to win the East. The key takeaways from this win line up largely in their favor:
Before 16 teams prepare for the start of the postseason Saturday, nine teams have to figure out their seedings on the last day of the regular season. Here's what to watch for during Wednesday's key games. (All stats and records are through April 13; all times Eastern.)
SI.com's NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week. (All stats and records are through March 15.)
There is a prevailing theory in NBA circles that owners are currently paralyzed in their decision-making by the prospect of a lockout in 2011.
SI.com's NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week. (All stats and records are through Feb. 1.)
Before the Rockets played the Knicks a few weeks back, Houston forward Carl Landry warned his brother, New York forward Marcus Landry, that it was going to be a long night. "I know every move you do, and I'm going to stop it," Carl boasted. "I'm telling all my teammates your favorite go-to moves and countermoves."
Now that the Grizzlies have climbed above .500 and Lionel Hollins has been named Western Conference Coach of the Month for December, the bandwagon is rolling for power forward Zach Randolph to be named to the All-Star team.
The physique is markedly different -- not as tall, a little thicker -- and the all-out, purposefully desperate style of play defied easy description. But the effect was unmistakably Jordan-like as Derrick Rose took over the game during a rare Chicago Bulls victory over the high-flying Atlanta Hawks in overtime last week.
Four SI.com writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the NBA each week. (All stats and records are through Dec. 14.)
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- The swimsuit model faked left and used her right hand against Derrick Rose. She was thinner than Tayshaun Prince but surprisingly skilled. As Marisa Miller drove by for a two-handed layup off the glass, Rose nodded with a smile to the small audience watching from the three-point line.
The Chicago Bulls' NBA-record 72-win season is a seemingly unapproachable mark. Since the Bulls accomplished the feat in 1995-96, only three teams have reached 67 wins and only one, the '96-97 Bulls, has cracked 69.
Luol Deng's life has been turbulent, filled with drama and extremes beyond any turning points a basketball game, season or career can bring.
It starts as a crack. It develops into a chink, grows into a hole, and pretty soon, it's a crater. Basketball season is fast approaching, but so is another of winter's traditions: pothole season.
September is by far the dullest month on the NBA calendar. It's the time of year when most contracts have been signed, most trades have been made and every team, from the Lakers to the Nets, is expressing optimism about the upcoming season. But when I survey the landscape, I see several teams with serious issues going into training camp. In no particular order, here are my top three:
I was 24, Michael Jordan was 23. He was sitting on a padded table in the trainer's room at the Chicago Bulls' practice facility in 1986, a few days before he would score an NBA-record 63 points in a playoff game at Boston.
Pardon fans of the Chicago Bulls if they view Luol Deng's decision not to play for Great Britain's national team this summer as something less than an NBA offseason-defining development for their preferred club.
You don't have to be a weatherman to know which way Ricky Rubio is blowing, but it helps. The sensational teenaged point guard from Spain officially hasn't explained what appears to be his reluctance to join the Minnesota Timberwolves, the NBA team that grabbed him with the No. 5 pick in the June 25 draft. Others -- his father Esteve Rubio and Wolves exec David Kahn -- have done most of the talking for him, and at this point it still isn't clear whether Rubio cannot get to Minnesota for the 2009-10 season (a tricky and expensive buyout to negotiate with his Euroleague team, DKV Joventut Badalona) or simply will not (doesn't want to come).
Every graduating class brims with hopes and dreams, as full of promise as so many of its members are full of themselves. In the NBA, in terms of thrilling, game-deciding big shots, the Class of 2009 has to rank among the best.
Here we are, a few days into the second round of the NBA postseason, and already I'm pining for the first round. And I don't just mean Boston-Chicago. Even Atlanta-Miami would do.
BOSTON -- His feet wore flip-flops, his knees were wrapped in ice and his nostril was stitched like Jack Nicholson's in Chinatown as Paul Pierce exhaled. It was a long breath noticeable for the absence of cigar smoke. For there was nothing to celebrate.
BOSTON -- How have the Chicago Bulls succeeded in pushing the champion Celtics to a Game 7? For help on this question as well as a preview of the winner-take-all game here Saturday night, I sought the advice of an NBA advance scout who is expert on both teams.
Rather than joining in the parade of people tripping over themselves to stamp just the right superlative on this first-round Eastern Conference playoff series between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls -- stunning, epic, incredible, exhausting, stupid and a hundred other adjectives that pale next to the videotape and memories still too wet to touch -- we'll stick with numbers, not words.
We look ahead to Game 7 of the Celtics-Bulls saga happy, for the first time, that the NBA chose years ago to extend the opening round from its former best-of-five format.
The Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics will contest a deciding Game 7 on Saturday after a first round playoff series which many commentators are describing as the greatest in basketball history.
SI.com NBA writers Chris Mannix, Steve Aschburner and Scott Howard-Cooper assess Chicago's 128-127 triple-overtime victory against Boston in Game 6 on Thursday (RECAP | BOX) and look ahead to Game 7 of this riveting first-round series. For analysis from Ian Thomsen, click here.
Here are five thoughts on the latest too-good-to-be-true installment of the Celtics-Bulls series, along with a couple of other Game 6s that were rumored to be taking place Thursday.
Sadly, all good serials must end someday. The Godfather trilogy. The Sopranos HBO drama. The Celtics-Bulls opening-round series. Maybe Paul Pierce will hit a shot at the buzzer of Game 6 on Thursday and the season will go blank on the Chicago Bulls, from hysteria to nothingness, just like that.
This story appears in the May 4, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated.
Have so many injuries, fouls and missed free throws ever created so much theater? First of all, we should thank Paul Pierce and Ray Allen for missing the free throws at the ends of Games 1 and 4 that might have finished off this series ruthlessly and succinctly.
Five NBA playoff observations on a night in which the Celtics and Bulls gave us another thriller.
The first-round playoff matchup between the Celtics and Bulls has become a possession-by-possession dogfight. How have the two teams reached this point and what's ahead? Here's a breakdown leading into Tuesday's Game 5.
Decisions, decisions. Can't live with 'em, can't thrive without 'em.
Observations and analysis of the NBA playoffs, which is all the Cleveland Cavaliers figure to be doing, too, for a few days now:
CHICAGO -- Paul Pierce told us we hadn't seen his "A" game yet. He told us we hadn't seen his "B" game, either. His "C" game? That we had seen a lot of.
SI.com NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week.
Observations and analysis as the NBA playoffs get under way ...
SI.com NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week. (All records are through Tuesday.)
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