Playoffs Commentary

Chicago Bulls’ Taj Gibson celebrates after a basket against the Atlanta Hawks during Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference second round playoff basketball game in Chicago, May 10, 2011. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Rick Morrissey, Chicago Sun-Times: So here the Bulls were to start the fourth quarter Tuesday night, locked in mortal combat with determined Atlanta, and, well, what was it going to be? Were the Bulls going to chop down this pesky, maddening team? And if so, how would they do it? With Derrick Rose, of course. You play against Rose, and you expect to see 33 points and nine assists. You almost cede it. But you don’t expect Taj Gibson to pour in 11 fourth-quarter points on 5-of-5 shooting from the floor. You don’t expect Gibson to pour in anything not involving Gatorade. You certainly don’t expect Omer Asik to play almost 20 minutes in a playoff game, including all 12 in the fourth quarter. You don’t expect Ronnie Brewer to play the entire fourth quarter either. You expect Brewer to be waving a towel at the end of the bench. It’s proof that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is smart enough not to get in the way of a good thing, even if the good thing might require nametags.

Bill Reiter, FSFlorida: In February, after the Heat failed to beat a similarly under-performing Celtics team in Boston, I wrote the following: “Miami cannot beat Boston. Not now. Not later. Not in a seven-game playoff series. Not gonna happen.” I was wrong. I did not believe LeBron and his coach would find enough harmony to work together in a way that could lead to such a win. They did. I did not think, after watching LeBron and Wade after that game, that either man would get their confidence back in the face of a Celtics onslaught. But that’s exactly what happened. I certainly didn’t think Boston would trade away Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson for the likes of Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, but that certainly happened, too. When the Celtics traded Perkins, they gave away more of their team’s heart and soul than most of us knew. Though perhaps we should have guessed it by the way Celtics players cried at the goodbye; by the way they bristled at the news.

Ron Borges, Regardless of why they failed to hold a 13-point second-half lead last year in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers, that loss, in some ways, begat what has happened to them since. Big Three Lite seemed to wither and grow old that day, a circumstance that seldom reverses itself in sports. … The Heat have their own Big Three, and it is far from lite. It is made up of three guys who are younger, faster, stronger and perhaps even hungrier than the Celtics’ aging version, which is all the more reason why what happens tonight at American Airlines [AMR] Arena is so significant to the legacy of Pierce, Allen and Garnett in Boston. It seems foolish to suggest that somehow the aging and infirm team Danny Ainge put together this season will win three straight from the Heat, two of them in Miami, and thus advance to the East finals. Anything is possible, but some things are more unlikely than others, and at the moment a sighting of Halley’s comet seems more likely than a sighting of Banner 18 in the Garden rafters.

Berry Trammel, The Oklahoman: Russell Westbrook took 33 shots Monday night in the Memphis Marathon. Kevin Durant took 20. You know what that means. Here we go again. Why does Westbrook shoot so much? Why does he crave the spotlight? Why does he feel like he has to be the man? Crazed fans, we can forgive. But NBA veterans, from the likes of Chuck Barkley and Kenny Smith and Mike Fratello? Busting Westbrook even after he was the central hero in one of the most thrilling games in NBA history? Wondering why Durant wasn’t getting more shots than was his point guard. Are they not watching the games? To quote Strother Martin in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, “Morons. I’ve got morons on my team.” The Thunder has regained control of this rousing Western Conference semifinal against Memphis, armed again with homecourt advantage in a 2-2 series. And Westbrook is the No. 1 reason. The Thunder has a favorable mismatch with Westbrook. It does not have such an edge with Durant.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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