The Bulls had two three-day breaks in the final four weeks of the regular season, playing poorly in a 17-point home loss against the Trail Blazers after one and winning impressively on the road against the Timberwolves following the other.
Dallas Mavericks fans can always look at the bright side. This team is only about half the underdog the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference was against the No. 1 seed seven years ago.
There were moments when it was difficult to tell what truly mattered for the Miami Heat. They played big; they played small. They played hard; they played not so hard. They got up for the biggest challenges; they shrunk from the smallest ones. There was stability; there was flux.
Klay Thompson tallied 22 points and seven rebounds and despite horrid foul shooting down the stretch from both teams, the Golden State Warriors stole home-court advantage from the Los Angeles Clippers with a 109-105 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series from Staples Center.
The Golden State Warriors stumbled out of the gate, missing their first eight shots while falling behind by 11 points and forcing coach Mark Jackson to call two timeouts to steady his young team.
The Houston Rockets were happy simply to return to the playoffs last season.
For weeks in February, practically the only time Udonis Haslem and Rashard Lewis worked up a sweat on game nights was during the spirited pregame 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 battles among Heat reserves.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Is anyone at Sleep Train Arena actually getting any sleep these days? Didn't think so. Barely hours into the offseason, which will be far less traumatizing than the previous three years for obvious reasons - the league just said no to relocation! - the Kings' owners and front-office executives are staring into the teeth of three significant personnel issues.
So it begins again. The fun and fuming. The nerves and nonsense. And the stakes for the Heat that escalate beyond anything Charlotte offers Sunday in the playoff opener, maybe beyond even a third NBA title shimmering in a distant June.
It isn't often the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning play a 60-minute game.Twenty-six saves by Carey Price and two goals by Rene Bourque helped make this the rare case. David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher also scored and the Canadiens beat the Lightning 4-1 Friday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The Canadiens took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series heading into Sunday's Game 3 in Montreal. They won Game 1 on Wednesday when Dale Weise scored 18:08 into overtime -- the fourth time in five meetings between the teams during this past season and the playoffs that one of their games was decided after regulation. On Friday, all the goals came in the second and third period, the first three against Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback, who was pulled after Gallagher scored with 8:14 left. Price was within 1:59 of his first playoff shutout in three years before Teddy Purcell scored on a power play.
Dwyane Wade made his intentions known four years ago.
To understand the impact and influence Tyrone Green had on Joakim Noah, just go back to Noah's 2007 draft night.
Never mind all they overcame. The only obstacle that matters now for the Chicago Bulls is the one in front of them.
Yes, there is great leaguewide respect for the two-time defending champion Heat. But when some of the other Eastern Conference playoff teams look at the Heat and Indiana, they see opportunity, considering Miami went 11-14 since March 4 and Indiana lost 13 of its past 23.
For the Heat, the color and pageantry of the NBA playoffs will be muted, with TNT sideline report Craig Sager missing the postseason to be treated for leukemia.
The Milwaukee Bucks will have the best chance at landing the top overall pick in the June 26 NBA draft and can drop no lower than the No. 4 overall selection.
The book on Chris Bosh is he's more of a spot-up shooter than a frontcourt giant, and for the season's first 61 games, he was an elite one.
Most of us are not like Miami's LeBron James. We don't move in a straight line to the top of our profession. We aren't chosen.
When the Bulls and Wizards tip off Sunday night at the United Center, John Wall will be making his playoff debut. So will his backcourt running mate, Bradley Beal.
Paul Pierce and the veteran-laden Brooklyn Nets took over down the stretch to gain the upper hand in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Toronto Raptors, coming through with a 94-87 Game 1 victory at a raucous Air Canada Centre.
The Brooklyn Nets made a case for the important of playoff experience in their opening victory over the Toronto Raptors.
No matter what media blowhards like me say, individuals don't win championships, even in the NBA. Not Wilt Chamberlain. Not Magic Johnson, Larry Bird or LeBron James. No, not even Michael Jordan.
The general consensus is that the San Antonio Spurs will finish this year what they failed to finish last year and capture the 2014 NBA title.
This is the time of year that reputations and championships are made. Two-time defending champion Miami looks for the NBA's first three-peat since Kobe and Shaq's Lakers (2000-2002). The star power is immense, including LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard. Let's play ball:
Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri made disparaging remarks towards the Brooklyn Nets during a fan rally outside the Air Canada Centre prior to Saturday's Game 1 of the teams' Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.