HOOPSWORLD Week in Review
Deng: We Want East’s Best Record
By Joel Brigham
Down by two with less than a minute left in Sunday’s road game against the Miami HEAT, Bulls forward Luol Deng made one free throw but missed a second that would’ve tied it. Deng could have very easily been staring at his bedroom ceiling that night, kept awake by his own inability to save the game for his team, but an offensive rebound, another foul, and two sunk free throws for the win prevented that from happening.
So instead of losing the game, Deng and his Bulls won a second straight huge road game in Florida against one of the conference’s best, while sweeping the season series against the HEAT.
It’s just been that kind of season for the Bulls.
"We’re going one game at a time. Our goal is just to get to the playoffs and get that first round of home court advantage," Deng told HOOPSWORLD. "We do want to have the best record in the East."
Gerald Wallace Didn’t See Trade Coming
By Alex Kennedy
When the Charlotte Bobcats decided to trade Gerald Wallace to the Portland Trail Blazers, it was news to everyone, including Wallace. The forward had no idea that he was being shopped, and the trade completely blindsided him.
"I was shocked," Wallace told HOOPSWORLD. "I was kind of disappointed because I didn’t see it coming. It was just one of those things that you’re not expecting and it catches you off guard."
In the hours leading up to the trade deadline, Wallace was confident that he wasn’t going anywhere. That’s because the decision makers in Charlotte repeatedly told him that he wouldn’t be traded. Even on the morning of Feb. 24, the team reiterated that they had no plans to move him.
Time to Lay Off Erik Spoelstra
By Lang Greene
Last summer there were two schools of thought surrounding the long term future of Miami HEAT’s head coach Erik Spoelstra when the organization re-signed Dwyane Wade and then secured the signatures of LeBron James and Chris Bosh to play alongside him.
The then 39 year old was either going to ride the success of the newly formed big three into the ranks of legendary coaching greats or find his way to the unemployment line if team chemistry didn’t mesh from the start.
As it stands currently, despite being on pace for 56 regular season victories and positioned only four games behind Boston for the best record in the East, Spoelstra’s fate seems doomed for the latter scenario.
Celtics/Lakers on Collision Course?
By Eric Pincus
The two teams riding the longest current winning streak in the NBA are the Boston Celtics (five straight) and the Los Angeles Lakers (eight). The same two franchises have met twice recently in the Finals with each taking a title. This June may be the rubber match . . .
The Celtics sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 46-15 record. Despite having a strong season, the team made a bold trade before the deadline sending bulky center Kendrick Perkins (along with Nate Robinson) to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic
Perkins had missed most of the season rehabbing a torn ACL in his right knee but was solid in 12 games for the Celtics with 7.3 points a game on 54.2% shooting along with 8.1 rebounds. Prior to the trade he sprained the MCL in his other knee and has yet to play for the Thunder.
You Can’t Buy Team Chemistry
By Susan Bible
Chemistry is a much-talked-about aspect in attaining success in basketball. In a sport where players’ movements are incredibly interactive and verbalization among the players on the floor so key, a lack of good chemistry can be detrimental. When rosters undergo changes, either in the offseason or midseason, that developed chemistry can be threatened.
Two specific NBA teams have seen significant roster changes this year – the Phoenix Suns and the Oklahoma City Thunder – and each coach gave HOOPSWORLD their input on the value of chemistry.
Suns coach Alvin Gentry shared a most unusual scene.
"We had a little powwow where we did something elementary," Gentry said. "My owner (Robert Sarver) got everyone in a circle, and we talked about some things and stuff. It seemed really goofy at the time, but it might have been the best thing that we did the whole year. It was something that really, really worked. It pretty much changed our whole approach; changed the chemistry of our team right there, I thought."
Brandon Roy Will Be Back
By Jason Fleming
When a player gets hurt it’s tough to handle. When that player is a three-time All-Star and has to watch his team struggle at times, when he knows his body just won’t give what he is used to receiving from it, it’s even harder. The 2010-11 NBA season has been incredibly trying for Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Brandon Roy, but now he’s back on the floor and knows he can help his team.
Those 35 games he missed? They hurt.
"Mentally I just try to put the things behind me," said Roy. "There was a stretch there when I was pretty down just because I was going through not being able to play, not really knowing where my career was – it was frustrating. But after I had those surgeries, the scopes on both my knees, I said I’m just going to put that stuff behind me and I’m going to focus on getting better. That’s where I’ve been at, just trying to improve each day and build. I think because of it I’m happier. And I’m back playing, which is what I wanted to do."