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NBA AM: Bulls Confident About Playoffs
Posted By Steve Kyler On April 18, 2013 @ 9:22 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
HOOPSWORLD caught up with Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, who talked about his increased role and what he sees ahead for his team; which isn’t always easy with Nate Robinson playing comedian in the background.Watch More Video Here
Bulls Confident In Playoff Situation: While the media and fans have focused on the status of Bulls guard Derrick Rose and when he will return to action for the Bulls, inside the locker room the player’s focus hasn’t been on their sidelined MVP. Their focus has been on finally getting healthy and sharp going into this weekend’s matchup against Brooklyn.
“You know we’ve had a lot of adversity and a lot of injuries,” Bulls center Joakim Noah said to HOOPSWORLD. “I think the fact that we’re able to come back and be healthy, that’s one step, and then the next step is getting sharp and getting our conditioning right, getting our timing together; unfortunately, we probably won’t be at one hundred percent, but at the end of the day, we’re a team of fighters and let’s see what happens.”
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau openly questions how sharp his team is going to be due to all of the missed games, but his players are not nearly as concerned.
“To be honest, part of that is having your guys back,” explained Bulls forward Carlos Boozer. “I mean, I told the guys earlier, I said, ‘It’s like having your car and you’re missing a few pieces. Your car ain’t going to run as good.’ It’s no excuse, that’s just what it is. Having our guys back, you have your parts back; your car is going to run a lot smoother. We have Joakim out there, to have Taj out there, to have Rip out there. I’m telling you, those guys make a huge difference for us and our sharpness comes with our team being intact, in my opinion.”
The Bulls have played the entire Eastern Conference playoff field and have won more games than not. That success has brought a level of confidence to the Bulls.
“We are a confident group,” said a smiling Boozer. “We believe that with our principles that we can beat anybody, anywhere, especially when we’re completely healthy.”
That confidence isn’t just with Boozer either.
“We feel that we’re capable of beating anybody on any given night,” said Bulls forward Taj Gibson. “It’s all about how sharp you can be, how healthy you can be. We’re just trying to have our guys healthy at the right time. It’s all about us being real crisp and being able to have a good practice, and we really have not had any practice. We’ve just been throwing guys out there, guys that are playing with heart and energy, and we’ve been getting lucky, but in the playoffs every single play is going to count and we need to get a lot more sharper.”
All of the injuries the Bulls have endured have created opportunities for guys like second year forward Jimmy Butler and reserve guard Nate Robinson, both are expected to play bigger roles in the postseason based on how they have played over the last few months.
“Their confidence should be sky high because they played great,” said Boozer. “With the success they’ve had this season, you see Coach playing them a lot more in crunch time and you notice that now, and that’s because of how hard they’ve played and how hard they’ve worked, and you have to give them credit for that.”
The Bulls enter the playoffs as the fifth seed in the East and will start the playoffs on the road against Brooklyn.
“We feel like we have the potential to do something special,” said Noah. “That’s really exciting. It’s going to be a lot of work. Just came back from an injury two games before the playoffs and these are things that are very real, but at the end of the day we know that if we play together and we trust our defense that we’re capable of beating anybody.
“I think we’re deep. A lot of guys are more than capable of stepping up. We’ve done that all year and now the lights just get a little bit brighter so it’s exciting.”
The Bulls are not considered the front runners as the postseason opens in Chicago, and that’s fine them.
“We’re the underdog. We’re okay. We’re used to that,” said Boozer. “Everybody talks about Miami, everybody talks about San Antonio, and every other team in between, we’re just going to keep plugging away every day.”
The Bulls open the playoffs on Saturday in Brooklyn at 8:00pm EST. The Bulls took the regular season series, 3-1, and each of those games was tightly contested.
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Marcus Smart Staying: Oklahoma State might have one of the better teams in college basketball next year, the problem is its likely going to cost Marcus Smart at least ten draft spots next year.
Yesterday Smart announced that he would not be entering the 2013 NBA Draft, rather he’ll stay in school for at least one more year, and that’s likely going to cost him down the road.
Historically guys that are ranked in the top five and opt to stay for another year tend to see their draft stock take at least a ten-spot hit the following year.
Joakim Noah was projected as possibly the top overall pick in 2006. Sources close to the process in Portland pegged him as their guy had he come out. He opted to stay at Florida and won another National Championship and ended up going ninth to the Chicago Bulls. The slide didn’t hurt Noah’s overall career as he has gotten his big payday and he landed in a great situation for himself, but he is the rare exception.
Willie Warren was pegged as possibly a top ten pick, with some mock drafts in 2009 had him as high as seven. He opted to return for another year and cratered his draft stock, ultimately getting drafted with the 54th pick in 2010. His NBA career is basically over now.
Last year’s draft should be the poster child for coming out while you are hot. Perry Jones III was considered a top three pick in 2011 and he fell to 28 last year due to injury concerns about his knee. Jared Sullinger was considered a top 10 talent in 2011 he went 21 to Boston also due to injury concerns. Terrence Jones was pegged as a top 10 guy in 2011; he fell to 18 this year.
There is something admirable about wanting to finish what you started, but the reality is that if improving as a player is the goal for staying, Smart would have more options and resources available to him after being drafted than he ever will at Oklahoma State.
There is the possibility that he’s looked at the draft landscape and decided maybe he doesn’t want to play in some of the situation that might draft him, but there is no doubting that with players like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and the Harrison twins are likely one-and-done next year. Smart needs have an amazing sophomore season or else he could see his stock take the ten-spot tumble that’s common to players that were hot one year and come out the next.
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