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NBA BasketBall Betting, the Top Teams and their Prospects for 2013, 2014 Season posted by NBA News

In the 2012, 2013 prediction of the NBA game seven, Miami Heat were the favorites to win according to basketball sports betting sites. They went ahead to win against the spurs. Miami Heat were defending their title for the second time. Spurs were not the favorites but they had raised hope in many people that they had a chance to take the title. Most odd makers had put odds in the fact that the game will be close. This prediction also came to be true with the final 95, 88 score. There are those that are looking for Miami Heat’s prospect for the 2013-2014 season.

Defending the Title

Miami Heat are favorites to win again in early predictions for this season. The Lebron James magic is expected to play out again as he leads his time to another victory and defend their title. Some predict that Lebron may retain his Most Valuable Player of the year title this coming season. He has consistently shown his skills in shooting, defending and attacking.

On the other hand it may be too early to judge. What are the real prospects of defending the title? Defending the title for the third time will not be that easy. There is talk of Dwayne Wade’s knee injury. Whether he will be part of the action next season and whether Lebron can do without him, is another important factor that will determine the prospects for the team this coming season.

Westbrook’s Return to Oklahoma City

Another team to watch is Oklahama City Thunder. Some odds place it second for the title after Miami Heat. Their prospects are also good. The team up of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook is going to be interesting to watch this season. The two are expected to help lead the team towards the title. However Russell has been on crutches and is widely expected to recover in time but how well he recovers and the level of his game remains to be seen.

Continue reading "NBA BasketBall Betting, the Top Teams ..."

Bulls Fan

Are Chicago Bulls a Good Contender for NBA Basketball Wagers posted by Bulls Fan

The Chicago Bulls, who have always been one of the most successful teams and therefore favourites for people looking to place bets at the local bookies, received a major setback recently when they lost to Charlotte Bobcats with ten points, with a score of 91-81. This was quite unexpected, as the Bobcats had lost 18 games in a row before playing the Bulls. It is obvious that the team desperately needs Derrick Rose; however, this seems to be a distant possibility. The shooting by the Chicago Bulls was not only quite poor, but the defending play was also much below normal. Even though, Luol Deng made determined efforts, he was quite inefficient with 14 rebounds and only 19 points during the play quarter. The Chicago Bulls seemed to be trailing by 10 points from the beginning, which the home crowd found quite upsetting. The loss to Charlotte Bobcats has made the Bulls drop to 16-13 this season.  
Looking at the winnings, Chicago Bulls have managed five wins out of seven that were away from home. The Bulls in their home ground defeated Orlando Magic with a score of 99-93, in the first season game between the two. After that, Bulls have won the remaining four games with Orlando; however, they need to be much more aggressive if they want to stay in the season, after the surprising loss to the Bobcats. At the start of the season, Chicago Bulls stood at 6/1 odds on winning the NBA championship, but now it all seems to depend on Derrick’s comeback and how well he is able to perform. If the odds have reduced for Chicago Bulls for the championship, then it could also mean a good opportunity for confident fans to make a large profit by the end of the season.It may be worth doing a little more homework before making your choice but the opportunity has never been so great for placing and winning bets in recent years due to online gambling.  The gambling and betting industry as a whole has undergone a huge revolution with the advent of the Internet. For example people are now able to play any game at an online casino or place a bet on any game from the comfort of their homes. The aspect of security is also no longer an issue, as most of these websites are governed by some authoritative body, and all online money transactions are fully secure. For betting on favorite sports teams, people now have access to numerous online sports books, which are legally regulated and licensed. This means there is no longer any worry about receiving the winnings promptly, which used to be a big issue with underground bookies. 
Continue reading "Are Chicago Bulls a Good Contender ..."

Richard Kagan

Step Up White Sox posted by Richard Kagan

I grew up watching and rooting for both the Cubs and White Sox.  Call me funny.  I am a die-hard Chicago fan.  I've cheered on the Bulls, Bears, and Hawks.  When the Sox won the Series in '05, I thought it was a mirage, till I woke up.  They really did win. 

Now, it's close to money time.  The ChiSox have won 2 straight fron New York.  I used to go see the Yanks and Sox play in old Comiskey.  Where the park was sold-out like some festival.  Everyone wanted to see Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Elston Howard, and Roger Maris.  Those were real Yankees.  Mickey was past his prime, but he stirred everyone when he came to the plate.  I  can't remember seeing Phil Rizutto, I am not sure he was playing, but they wre loaded.  And, still are offensively.  Now is the time to make a statement, because the Sox have power at the plate, and a good pitcher starting tonight. The Sox play well at home.  I am surprised they are not drawing bigger crowds.  Is there construction near the Dan Ryan? 

Continue reading "Step Up White Sox"

Richard Kagan

Bulls Fall in Philly, 79-78 posted by Richard Kagan

I am a long-time Bulls fan.  I looked at the score in disbelief after not having seen the game tonight.  I saw a brief low-light of how Asik missed two FT's late in the game, and how Iguodala hit 2 FT's with 2.2 ticks on the clock to win the game.  Never mind the C.J. Watson's desperation heave at the buzzer was close---this was a game the Bulls should have won.  Even without Rose and Noah.  From what I can see, if you out-rebound a team by a lot, which Chicago did, you should win the game.  The Bulls owned the boards. Luol Deng played like an All-Star.  He had a double-double and came up big tonight.  Carlos Boozer had a 1-11 night and that hurt.   Why did Richard Hamilton see so many minutes?  Ok, he had 19 points, but 37 minutes is a lot for a guy who has not played that long in a game in many weeks.  That may be his most mnutes of the year.  I know, he's had the big game experience.  But if he's huffing and puffing, that's not going to score points.  I like the Bulls so much.  And it hurts to see a terrific team run into bad luck and bad games, particularly in Philadelphia.  Kyle Korver did not score at all.  Why?  There needed to be more effort in getting a man who can shot the three in rhythm, in a flow, where he can do some damage. 

Again it came down to misses and makes on the chariity strike line.  The Bulls could have wrapped this game up with a make by Asik.  But the 76'ers crushed the Bulls with their two makes. You can't play this game again---no do-overs.  This is not how I thought the Bulls would end their season.

Continue reading "Bulls Fall in Philly, 79-78"

Richard Kagan

C'mon Bulls Win a Game posted by Richard Kagan

C'mon Chicago, win a home game in this crazy first-round matchup vs. the 76'ers.  The injury bug has submerged this team which is taking on water fast.  I hope they can step on a dry dock and salvage a game to extend this series. 

This Bulls miss Rose obviously, and without Noah, they look ordinary.  Joakim Noah is a heck of a player who does some big things like get offensive rebounds, play post-up defense, and creates screens for his teammates.  Oh, he has a ton of double-doubles if you want to check.  Every night it seems he scores 14 points and grabs 13 boards.  Some nights, it's 17 rebounds.  He is relentless on the glass and the Bulls miss that energy.  It will be tough to win against a young, hungry team that has some talented quick guys, but "tonight's the night", as Phil Collins once sang.  You have to win this game to move on to the next. I'd hate to see the season end on homecourt.

Continue reading "C'mon Bulls Win a Game"

Richard Kagan

Bulls In Shocking 1-3 Hole in Series posted by Richard Kagan

It  has become a grim fairy tale for the Chicago Bulls.  The team loses Derrick Rose, the reigning MVP, and team's leading scorer with a serious knee injury.  Then in Game 3 Joakim Noah sprains his left anke and is forced to leave the game.  The Bulls collapse in the closing minutes and hand over a crucial game to Philly.  In today's game, the Bulls trailed 80-78 in the fourth quarter but the 76'ers made the big plays down the stretch and pulled away from Chicago.  Now, the Bulls are a game from being out of the playoffs.  A prospect nearly unthinkable a few weeks ago.  But that's what injuries can do to a team.  Especially, if you miss two starters.  Chicago didn't make big baskets.  The offense was bottled up and the defense gave up big shots.  It seemed when Rose went down, the heart left the Bulls, and when Noah was hurt, the Bulls lost their resolve.  If you don't have that in elite competition, you are finished.  And The Bulls are dose to being finished this year.Continue reading "Bulls In Shocking 1-3 Hole in Series"

Richard Kagan

If Noah is Out, Bulls are Done posted by Richard Kagan

Things went from very bad to practically life-support for the Chicago Bulls when Joakim Noah sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter last night.  The Bulls had to change their game, and the 76'ers climbed back into a game they had no business winning, 79-74.  I am not going to give you stats tonight.  I am going to give you inpressions.  This series is looking bad for the Bulls.  If Noah can't suit up on Sunday, and that seems unlikely, the Bulls lose a key player.  A guy who has so many intangibles, aside from great inside defense, and rebounding.  Noah doesn't punish people, he justs does his job.  If someone gets in the way, they may get roughed up.  Tonight, Noah stepped on a Philly player and cried out in pain as he tumbled on the court near the base-line.  He tried to play later, but couldn't put pressure on his ankle.  The Bulls looked confounded, confused, and downright flustered as Philly crept back into it.  The fans, who were nervous, and expecting Philadelphia to fold before the No. 1 seed, came to life.  The Bulls looked like they were waiting on Rose to make a play except he was not in the game.  Neither was Noah and the offense disappeared.  All of a sudden, no one was scoring.  I don't want to look at the stats because it will be ugly.  Scoring 74 points isn't going to get it done in any game, certainly not in the playoffs. Continue reading "If Noah is Out, Bulls are Done"

Richard Kagan

Bulls on Brink? posted by Richard Kagan

The Bulls were losing by 20 points, guys were jamming and dunking and roaming the paint with little resistance and the 76'ers walk away with a huge win in game 2.  Suddenly, this has become a ssries.  The loss of DRose looms so large now.  Yes, the Bulls had a strong 2nd quarter and took a 7 point lead to half-time.  But, what happened in the 3rd quarter?  Philadelphia didn't go through the Bulls, they went over them with pinpoint passing, and a team of leapers who outplayed Chicago on their homecourt.  I knew this series wouldn't be easy, but now Phladelphia has serious mo' on their side.  They will continue to fly unless the Bulls find a way to stop them.  It appears that the injury to Rose has taken the fight out of the Bulls and that is something they've had all season.  This is one of the worst defeats at the most critical time.  I think the Bulls need a a day off.  The announcers on TNT were saying that Coach Thibodeau said that every guy needs to play a little better to make up for Rose's loss in lineup.  I'd say that didn't happen tonight.Continue reading "Bulls on Brink?"

Richard Kagan

Life Without Derrick In Playoffs posted by Richard Kagan

Chicago Bulls' superstar, Derrick Rose, is scheduled to have knee surgery to repair a torn ACL on his left knee.  The Chicago Bulls have been in mental transition the past few days, trying to accept this loss and getting on with their playoff run.  They've said all the right things.  "We have more than enough."  The Bulls did go 18-9 without Rose in the lineup.  But this is the NBA playoffs.  Tomorrow night, the battle begins with a sidelined Rose.  Can the Bulls win this series without their big star?  They probably will but it will be a real test.  Guys are going to have to step up in energy output and effort.  If the Bulls rebounded well, they have to rebound better.  Expect the team to raise their game and the Bulls will hold court at home.Continue reading "Life Without Derrick In Playoffs"

Richard Kagan

Rose Injured, Title Hopes In Jeopardy posted by Richard Kagan

Chicago Bulls' star Derrick Rose leapt in the air and hit the floor and injured his left knee.  This happended in the final minuts of Chicago's evenutal win over he 76ers in Game One.  He was helped off the court by Bulls' personnel.  Reports are the Rose tore His ACL in the knee thus sidelining him again, this time for the rest of the playoffs.  The Bulls title aspirations took a serious blow with Rose's injury.  Rose has been injured five times and has missed over a third of the regular season.  Now, after one playoff game, in which he seemed settling into form, he is out and the Bulls' title hopes took a major hit.  Chicago has enough talent to win a first round series vs. Philadelphia, and maybe in the second round, but playing in the Eastern Conference Series will be a mere formality.  No one wanted to see Rose get hurt.  Bulls' fans wanted to see Chicago beat Miami, who everyone assumes will be their anticipated foe.  Well, the fun just left that potential matchup.  Basketball can be a cruel game.  With awlful twists and turns. That aspect showed up at the United Center on Saturday.Continue reading "Rose Injured, Title Hopes In Jeopardy"

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Ball Don’t Lie’s 2013-14 Playoff Previews: Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats (Bal

The playoffs begin on Saturday, thankfully, which means it’s that lovely time of spring (and it is spring, right? It’s not going to snow again, is it?) when the minds behind Ball Don’t Lie to offer you their thoughts on the upcoming pairings in the first round of the NBA’s postseason. Kelly Dwyer’s Old Grey Whistle Test For those just hopping to the NBA season, understand the Charlotte Bobcats didn’t luck or back their way into their second (and final, considering the franchise’s imminent name change) playoffs. Sadly for Charlotte, the Miami Heat didn’t, either. You didn’t hear much about the Miami Heat this year, comparatively, because a lack of a 27-game winning streak will do that to a nation’s fancy. The Indiana Pacers held the Eastern Conference’s best record for nearly every day of the 2013-14 regular season, the San Antonio Spurs finished with the league’s best regular season record yet again, and Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant will likely and rightfully lope away with the NBA MVP award, ending LeBron James’run with the hardware. The Heat are the champs, though. And not in the “we’ll-call-them-the-champs-until-someone-knocks-them-out”way. That doesn’t mean that 2013-14 was a triumphant regular season turn, however. The team won only 54 games, fewer than the Chicago Bulls (57) and Los Angeles Lakers (58) did during their three-peat conquerings in 1993 and 2002, and with Miami mostly working in an embarrassing Eastern Conference that saw the Heat lose twice to the Philadelphia 76ers and twice to the Boston Celtics. Dwyane Wade missed 29 games not just because he sat out on the second night of back-to-backs, but also because of a worrying late-season hamstring pull. Ray Allen shot, gasp, just about an average mark from 3-point range. This is also a team that may just have 15 or 16 games between now and the start of the Finals. This is a team that can run James for huge heaps of minutes, while Wade works at his leisure, with Chris Bosh fitting in wherever needed. Allen’s 3-point percentage starts over on Sunday. Shane Battier grows angel wings. Erik Spoelstra gets to hammer out a game plan against the same opponent, over and over, rather than working against four other coaches in five nights. Pity those poor Charlotte Bobcats. Kind of. These Bobcats earned this. “Rookie”head coach Steve Clifford should be a Coach of the Year candidate, and had his team been on national television more often he’d probably have won the damn thing. The Bobcats have evolved into a team with solid depth, and most importantly to a playoff drive, the group defends like mad in spite of the presence of Al Jefferson on the floor. Of course, the Bobcats wouldn’t be nearly where they are currently with Jefferson, who turned in a career year some six years after tearing his ACL, working in a new environment with a (damn good) point guard in Kemba Walker who isn’t exactly what we’d call “pass-first.”If you haven’t seen Big Al, prepare for a throwback. Over 22 points and 11 boards in 35 minutes a game, despite needing the season’s first two months to work his way back (mostly on the court) from an ankle sprain. Low-post goodness, in a league that frowns on such things. Touch and footwork and a needed go-to option after a play breaks down for a team that ranked just 24th in offense. He should have made the All-Star team, but in a lot of ways it was best that he missed it. The All-Star Game wastes talents like Jefferson, and those few days off in mid-February likely helped the player that led Charlotte to a 20-9 record following a showcase that tends to exclude players of a Bobcatian nature. The ride is likely over. James is basically as tall as Jefferson. Walker had a very good year, but he shot 39 percent to Wade’s 54 percent. Bosh is floating, and the other Heat veterans have been through this before. It’s true that, somehow, Charlotte runs deeper than Miami, but none of this will likely matter when James spies Josh McRoberts’too-cute entry pass from a mile away, swipes it and turns it into two points before Bobcat fans can even recall they’ll become the Hornets again this fall. Fair-weather NBA fans? Happily introduce yourself to the Charlotte Bobcats, because this is a team worth watching. Also, re-introduce yourself to the Miami Heat, because this is a team worth fearing. Prediction: Miami in 4. Dan Devine's One Big Question Every postseason matchup has its own unique set of variables for each team, and prognosticator, to attempt to solve. Here's one that BDL's Dan Devine has been mulling over. How much energy will Miami have to expend in Round 1? LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh begin their bid for a fourth straight trip to the NBA finals against a Bobcats team that looks to be heavily overmatched and whom the Heat swept during the regular season. A closer look at the season series, though, suggests that what appears to be a squash might not be quite as breezy as Erik Spoelstra might like. While the Heat did go 4-0 against the Bobcats, two of those games were nail-biters. There was a one-point Dec. 1 win in which the Big Three all played, but Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker (27 points on 10 for 22 shooting, six assists) largely got where he wanted, and a mid-January overtime victory that saw James (34 points, eight rebounds, six assists) and Bosh (25 points, seven rebounds) carry the day for a resting Wade to come back from a seven-point halftime deficit. One blowout came while All-NBA-caliber Charlotte center Al Jefferson was sidelined with an ankle injury, which represents a sizable asterisk. The other happened when James became Death, Destroyer of Worlds . (That one still holds up.) Still, while the Heat stumbled to the finish line by going 13-14 after March 1 -- including some games, to be fair, where they weren't exactly going all-out for the W -- Charlotte played perhaps their best ball of the year. The Bobcats won three straight to finish the regular season and nine of their last 11, including three tough overtime wins against fellow Eastern playoff squads (the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls). The Bobcats went 16-9 after the February deal to import Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour from the Milwaukee Bucks, a move that added (some) long-range shooting and secondary ball-handling, and helped boost the Bobcats' offense from a dreadful 25th in points scored per possession pre-trade to a middle-of-the-pack 16th afterward. Another key helper: Josh McRoberts, the beautifully coiffed power forward whose fantastic touch as a high-post passer (five dimes per 36 minutes, assisting on nearly 22 percent of his teammates' buckets while he's on the floor) has paired perfectly with Big Al's left-block mastery, and whose long-range shooting (36.1 percent from 3-point land) has helped give Jefferson room to cook. Gerald Henderson's production has dipped virtually across the board this season, but the versatile wing tends to be a bellwether; he's shooting 45.4 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from 3 in Charlotte wins, and just 41.3/32.2 in losses. When he tries too hard to create his own offense, he can hurt more than he helps, but when he simply plays his role -- making smart cuts to take advantage of the attention Jefferson draws, or finding openings on the perimeter to be available for spot-up shots off kickouts -- he can threaten. Rookie Cody Zeller has come on since the All-Star break , shooting 50 percent and averaging nearly eight points and five rebounds in 18 1/2 minutes per game by crashing the offensive boards, running the floor and ducking in off the weak side to dunk dump-off passes. Chris Douglas-Roberts has gone from scrap-heap signee to valuable piece in head coach Steve Clifford's rotation, adding complementary scoring and rebounding while providing defensive versatility on the wing and making some big shots . Charlotte is a patient, careful team that turned the basketball over on a league-low 12.9 percent of offensive possessions, and allowed the league's fewest fast-break points and points off turnovers per game this season. They're great at limiting opponents to one shot, leading the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage and finishing seventh in second-chance points allowed. There's real talent and toughness here, actual players who do things; these aren't the Bobcats you remember. They're still not going to spring an upset, though. Even dropping out LeBron's outlier 61-point explosion, Miami still hammered the Bobcats' No. 6-ranked defense in their other three games, scoring at a rate (109.1 points per 100 possessions) commensurate with their second-best-in-the-NBA full-season mark. The Bobcats' pack-the-paint scheme did reduce in the share of shots Miami took in the lane -- 44.7 percent of Heat field-goal attempts against Charlotte came there, down from 47 percent on the season as a whole -- but Miami converted the exact same share of them (62.9 percent) while shooting even better than their full-season mark on the midrange shots Charlotte concedes with its coverage. With James' ability to prosper against any defense, Bosh's elite midrange shooting and Wade presumably ready to rock after having his workload managed all season, Miami has the right weapons to attack Charlotte's defense. While Jefferson will likely continue beasting on Miami's small front line -- Big Al's averaged a shade over 25 points and 15 rebounds against the Heat this season, shooting 57.4 percent -- Charlotte doesn't figure to get reliable enough deep shooting to keep Miami from swarming the interior. And even if the Cats can knock down some pressure-relieving 3s early, that'll probably just remind Miami that it's late April, and that it's now time to flip the now-infamous switch that turns their closeouts and rotations from solid to terrifying. The key to this postseason could be whether Charlotte forces Miami to flip that switch early. If Miami's offense hits the ground running smoothly enough for the defense to get away with just-good-enough effort, then the Heat will be in good shape moving forward. But if the Bobcats can keep their late-season form going and land some shots on Miami early, and if Jefferson can dominate enough to steal a game in Miami, the Heat may find themselves having to put in work that could come back to bite them during the grueling rounds to follow. The 'Cats won't go easily, but I think the resolution will skew closer to the former than the latter. I respect what Jefferson and Clifford have done enough to think they'll notch the first (and last ) win in Bobcats postseason history at home, but Miami should be able to keep its powder dry with stiffer challenges ahead. Prediction: Heat in 5. Eric Freeman’s Guide to Playoff Watchability Over the next two months, basketball fans will hear all manner of insights into key matchups, x-factors, and other series-deciding phenomena. For most people, though, watching so much basketball is a luxury or bizarre form of punishment, not a fact of life. These brave souls must know one thing: is this game between 10 men in pajamas worth the time? Eric Freeman’s Guide to Playoff Watchability attempts to answer this difficult question. The Heat have been one of the league’s most exciting teams during the Big Three era, regularly putting forth amazing showcases of the best contemporary basketball has to offer. However, this team cannot escape narrative. The best Heat moments, either good or bad, have involved games and series that appear to serve as referenda on LeBron James’s place in basketball history, or the moral rectitude of building a team around stars obtained in free agency. In other words, the Heat need the right context to reach their full watchability potential —otherwise they’re just a garden-variety group of generationally unique stars. It’s safe to say that the Charlotte is not the team to bring out Miami’s full possibilities this series. Like the Milwaukee Bucks in last spring’s first round, the Bobcats are a team of limited talent. What head coach Steve Clifford has done this season is quite amazing —the Bobcats are a genuinely effective squad with with the East’s third-best defense by points-per-possession and a big man in Al Jefferson who could ravage the Heat’s interior defense. But they’re not a sexy team by any stretch. Sunday’s Game 1 will mark their first national TV appearance of 2013-14, and many casual fans may still consider them fodder for late-night TV monologue jokes. That’s not to say that this series is wholly unwatchable. The Heat won’t rise to their peak watchability until later in the postseason, but viewers are likely to see one or two unbelievable plays from LeBron and Co. Plus, despite not being world-beaters, the Bobcats do have a lot to offer. At the very least, they will provide something new to discover for all but the most committed League Pass devotees. The playoffs last a pretty long time, so seek out the unfamiliar while you still can. Rating: 4 out of 10 Angry Tweets About LeBron Being a Loser Prediction: Heat in 4. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Spurs' Gregg Popovich wins 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year Award, becomes third 3-time winner (B

The voters have the facts, and they've voted yes: Gregg Popovich is the best in the world at what he does. The NBA announced Tuesday that the San Antonio Spurs' inimitable sideline stalker has been named the league's 2013-14 Coach of the Year , taking home the Red Auerbach Trophy after piloting his Spurs to a 62-20 record, the best mark in the NBA, and the top seed in one of the more competitive Western Conferences in recent memory. It's the second time in the last three years that Popovich has taken home the honor, and the third time in his illustrious career. He won his first Coach of the Year after a 2002-03 season in which his Spurs went 60-22 and won the NBA championship behind league MVP Tim Duncan. He joins Don Nelson (1982-83 and 1984-85 with the Milwaukee Bucks, 1991-92 with the Golden State Warriors) and Pat Riley (1989-90 with the Los Angeles Lakers, 1992-93 with the New York Knicks, 1996-97 with the Miami Heat) as the only three-time winners in the history of the award, which dates back to the 1962-63 season. Popovich, 65, received 59 of a possible 124 first-place votes from sportswriters and broadcasters, and earned 380 total points —you get five points for a first-place vote, three points for second place and one point for third place —to top the ballot in a year in which there were a slew of very deserving candidates. You sure can make a strong case for Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, who finished second. The former ace shooting guard and ex-Utah Jazz assistant received 37 first-place votes, a ballot-leading 44 second-place nods and 339 total points after leading a young and rebuilding Suns squad that many predicted to rank among the league's very worst teams to a remarkable 48-34 record. The Suns were in playoff contention until the second-to-last game of the season in his first year running the show in the desert. Ditto for Tom Thibodeau, who won the award after the 2010-11 season and came in third this season. The eternally hoarse and hard-charging Thibodeau received 12 first-place votes and 159 total points for his work alongside newly minted Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah in leading the Chicago Bulls to a tie for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference despite losing former MVP and expected offensive centerpiece Derrick Rose just 10 games into the season. He also watched his front office ship out two-way linchpin Luol Deng in a midseason money-saving deal that did nothing to augment this year's club. Without two of his three best players, Thibs still coaxed the league's second-best defense out of this year's Bulls and made scrap-heap pickup D.J. Augustin into a legitimate game-changing scorer off the bench. And then there's Steve Clifford, who finished fourth (eight first-place votes, 127 points) after building the sixth-stingiest defense in the NBA around noted sieve Al Jefferson. He turned the Charlotte Bobcats from a league-wide laughingstock into a team that doesn't beat itself, and they intend to make the Miami Heat work for every last bucket in their first-round playoff series. And Dwane Casey, who finished fifth (five first-place votes, 70 points) after engineering a 14-game turnaround in the standings to lead the Toronto Raptors to a franchise-record 48 wins, the second Atlantic Division title in team history, and top-10 finishes in points scored and allowed per possession. Any of those top five finishers would've been very worthy selections, making Coach of the Year, as always, one of the more difficult annual award calls to make. For what it's worth, two Yahoo Sports NBA writers —Kelly Dwyer and I —had Pop as our top choice in our 2013-14 postseason/awards predictions . Yahoo Sports NBA columnists Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears preferred Clifford and Hornacek, respectively, while BDL writer Eric Freeman went with Thibodeau. Also receiving first-place votes: Terry Stotts of the Portland Trail Blazers, whose free-flowing offensive system unleashed All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard en route to 54 wins, the West's No. 5 seed and a sixth-place finish; and Doc Rivers, who came in seventh after not only leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a franchise-record 57 wins and a second straight Pacific Division title, but also freeing up Blake Griffin to become the unquestioned focal point of L.A.'s meat-grinder offense while Chris Paul recuperated from a midseason shoulder strain. Scott Brooks of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Mark Jackson of the Golden State Warriors and Jason Kidd of the Brooklyn Nets each received a third-place vote to round out the top 10. (The full media voting results have been made available online, if you'd like to check them out. Transparency!) But while there were many fine choices, there was only one right choice, and the voters made it. The 2013-14 season saw Pop not only continue his franchise's unparalleled run of consistent excellence —50-plus wins for the 15th straight season, and for the 16th time in 17 seasons (they only played 50 games in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, and the Spurs won 74 percent of them, equivalent to 61 wins over an 82-game campaign, en route to an NBA championship ), and 17 consecutive playoff berths, the fifth-longest postseason streak in NBA history —but he did so on the heels of the Spurs' losses to the Miami Heat in Games 6 and 7 of the 2013 NBA finals, one of the most crushing conclusions to a season imaginable. Pop recently said he was "really impressed" with how his players bounced back from that "devastating loss." We're really impressed with how their coach did, too. There were plenty of times when the train could have run off the tracks, most notably during a six-week-long stretch where major contributors kept dropping like flies: big man Tiago Splitter hurting his shoulder , shooting guard Danny Green and swingman Kawhi Leonard suffering busted hands , sixth-man extraordinaire Manu Ginobili straining his left hamstring , and Tony Parker sustaining a "variety of maladies," etc. But without four huge pieces of the puzzle for several weeks, and with the Spurs fighting to stay at the top of a brutal Western Conference jam-packed with dangerous opponents, Pop just kept plugging in new parts to keep the system running smoothly. Under Pop, Marco Belinelli —a talented shooter and playmaker who'd never shot or made plays that well in his previous stops —became lethal, putting up more than 16 points and three assists per 36 minutes of floor time on excellent shooting splits (48.5 percent from the field, 43 percent from 3-point range, 84.7 percent from the foul line) and proving a perfect complement to Ginobili in reserve groups that torched opposing second units. Under Pop, Patty Mills —formerly a little-used, towel-waving mascot —became a critical rotation piece capable of roasting defenses from long range and blazing his way to the rim when Parker sat down. Under Pop, Boris Diaw became a jack-of-all-trades type capable of holding together and augmenting myriad frontcourt units on both ends of the floor. Under Pop, unheralded players like Jeff Ayres, Aron Baynes, Cory Joseph and Austin Daye all stepped forth and made contributions that kept the Spurs on course for bigger things, keeping the big guns rested and ready. No Spur averaged more than 30 minutes per game during the regular season, which is the first time any team has done that in NBA history and is a pretty big deal given all those minutes and miles on the legs of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker. And amid all that juggling, Pop's Spurs won a franchise-record and NBA-leading 30 road games, won 11 straight games in November and 19 straight games from mid-February through early April. He also led his team to top-four finishes in offensive and defensive efficiency, and earned home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs. Taken all together, this might be, as 48 Minutes of Hell's Trevor Zickgraf argues , "the most impressive coaching performance of Pop’s career." Considering all that career has seen —the ninth-most regular-season wins and third-most postseason wins in NBA history, five NBA finals trips and four NBA championships —that's saying an awful lot. And considering Pop won't ever take that bow himself, eternally reminding us that it's a player's league, we'll take a moment to take it for him. The best in the business works in San Antonio, and his work's not over yet. More NBA coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Charles Barkley says Wizards will sweep Bulls after Game 2 OT win: 'This is O-V-E-R' (Ball D

After trailing by 10 points with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter and by six with just under four minutes remaining in regulation, the Washington Wizards came back to beat the Chicago Bulls, 101-99 , in overtime to finish off an impressive road sweep at United Center. Randy Wittman's crew will head back to the nation's capital brimming with confidence and holding a commanding 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series. The Bulls will travel east knowing that if they don't figure out a way to scratch out some more points against the Wizards' defense, they might not be long for the postseason. At least one prominent national basketball commentator isn't banking on Tom Thibodeau and company finding that solution before Game 3 on Friday . Hall of Famer and Turner Sports analyst Charles Barkley pronounced Chicago dead on arrival during TNT's post-game discussion of the Wizards' Game 2 win. Here are Sir Charles' comments, as dutifully transcribed by Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog : [Barkley] said John Wall “is learning to be a point guard instead of just a tornado out there.”He said Bradley Beal “has arrived.”And then he said this. “I will tell you this: whoever plays that team in the second round is gonna have their hands full.”“Are you saying this one is over then?”["Inside the NBA" studio host] Ernie Johnson asked. “This is O-V-E-R in a 4-0 sweep,”Barkley said. “It is flat-out over. [The Bulls] can’t beat them. They can’t score enough. Ernie, I told you all season, this was the third-best team in the Eastern Conference when they’re healthy. They’re fully healthy, Wall and Beal are terrific. Nene is the key. He’s a nightmare matchup for most guys. “They’re gonna sweep the Bulls,”Barkley went on. “This series is a wrap. Whoever they play in the next series, whether it’s Indiana or Atlanta, they’re gonna have their hands full, because this team, they’re deep. They’ve got veteran leadership. They went out and got Andre Miller for leadership. Trevor Ariza’s been deep in the playoffs. Their two best players are [young]. They’re the key. Wall is growing up before our eyes, Beal can flat-out just shoot with anybody. But with the guys coming off the bench, this is gonna be a sweep.”To be fair, Barkley's within his rights to crow a bit —as he said, he's been touting Washington as the East's third-best team (when healthy) for months , and he was one of relatively few national pundits to pick Washington to beat Chicago in the East's 4-vs.-5 first-round matchup. (For the record, none of us here at BDL picked the Wiz, nor did Woj or Spears . Such haters.) And the odds of a comeback are certainly stacked against the Bulls. Only 16 teams in NBA history have come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a postseason series —the 15 on this list and last year's Memphis Grizzlies, who came back to knock off the Los Angeles Clippers, and only three teams have come back to win a series after dropping the first two games on their home court. With all due respect to Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah and third-place finisher in Coach of the Year voting Thibodeau, this year's Bulls don't have Wilt, West and Elgin, like the 1968-69 Los Angeles Lakers did, or prime Hakeem Olajuwon, like the 1993-94 Houston Rockets did, or 26-year-old Dirk Nowitzki, like the 2004-05 Dallas Mavericks did. They're in serious trouble, and in the case of this particular emergency, they can't break open the glass and pull out a Hall of Fame offensive force to pull them out of it. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Wizards beat Bulls 101-99 in OT to take 2-0 lead (Yahoo Sports)

[read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Wizards rally to beat Bulls on road again, take commanding 2-0 lead

CHICAGO (AP) Bradley Beal came on strong late in regulation to finish with 26 points, Nene scored six of his 17 in overtime and the Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 101-99 Tuesday to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series. [read full article]

From FOX Sports Digital

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