Well Pippen Peoples let me tell you something. Nobody knows how this season is going to play out. It seems like no one wants to lose these days. As hot as the Bulls has been lately, the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets have matched them nearly win for win. Everyone is so focused on the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers who are running neck and neck for the number one seed these days (Indiana took it back Wednesday night.) But the best race that is going on in BOTH conferences is the battle in the Eastern conference between the Raptors and the Bulls for the #3 seed. This battle has been going back and forth for the past two months. Remember back earlier in the season when this conference was boring? It was just Miami and Indiana and a bunch of jokes about the rest of the conference. Now for the last few weeks the entire conference has shed its Leastern image. Buckle up Pippen Peoples, it’s going to be fun.
The Chicago Bulls did their part beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 102-87 to keep pace in the chase for the #3 seed. For the total recap of the game please check out Ashley Wijangco’s article on Pippen Ain’t Easy. As always it is a good and informative read. DJ Augustin continues to play himself into a huge payday dropping 21 points to lead the Bulls. Joakim Noah had his fourth triple double this season scoring 15 points grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists. He is now tied with Lance Stephenson for the NBA lead. Kirk Hinrich must have heard I was talking trash about him and dropped 16 points on 7-9 shooting. Hey Kirk, I’ll leave you alone when you do this more than twice a month. Just sayin! The Bulls won this game from distance. The Bulls scored 11-21 from the land of extra points, the Timberwolves shot 4-17. UGH! Let’s see how the rest of the class did on Wednesday.
The Toronto Raptors defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 125-114.
TNT is now working on the 76ers “Gone Fishing” graphic as we speak. I got a question for Adam Silver…Can Philly just forfeit the rest of their games this season? They haven’t been relevant since they broke their losing streak. Dr. J is just rolling over in his grave right now watching these guys play. Doug Collins is my coach of the year. To all the people thinking that he’s not coaching the Sixers anymore, he’s an analyst at ESPN. That’s the point. He got on a life boat and started paddling from that ship wreck last year by resigning. He saw this coming over a year prior. If that ain’t coaching genius, I don’t know what is.
Toronto was led by Kyle Lowry with 29 points in his return since being out with a bruised kneecap. Patrick Patterson finished with 17 points for the Raptors who have now won four straight and seven of their last eight. Jonas Valanciunas fresh off a DUI arrest three days ago scored a career high 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Look Pippen Peoples, I tend to shoot from the hip and I’m not known for bedside manner when I write but let us all hope that Valanciunas has learned from his mistakes and gets better at making decisions. We here at Pippen Ain’t Easy are never going to judge personal behavior, but let’s all learn from this situation and don’t drink and drive. I know from experience the effects of drinking and driving because I have been hit by a drunk driver. It’s a very dangerous situation and no one wants lives lost. Hopefully Jonas realizes that now. Good luck going forward Jonas.
Brooklyn blinked! Brooklyn blinked! Lose to the Orlando Magic 115-111
This was a bad loss for the Nets who played without starters Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston. Mason Plumlee aka “Plumdog Village” scored 16 points and Marcus Thornton had 13 points off the bench. Joe Johnson led the Nets with 31 points but had his shot blocked at the end to seal things for the Magic. What does this game show us Pippen Peoples? It shows that the key to the success of this team squarely rests on the shoulders of Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston. Why? Because when you put Pierce at the power forward position it causes nightmare match up problems for the opponent. You put Livingston at the point and you take the ball away from Deron Williams so you have a decent chance of the offense running efficiently without Joe Johnson and Williams chasing each other for shots. Plus he also causes matchup problems being 6’7 with arms so long that there aren’t many point guards that can do anything with him. Since Livingston took over the point guard position, the Nets took off. This is no coincidence.
The Bulls if they keep the #3 seed may have Charlotte as their first round opponent. Charlotte beats Washington 94-88 in overtime.
The Wizards have issues and I know exactly where it is. That’s coming up. Let’s talk about the Charlotte Bobcats. Al Jefferson, Pippen Peoples is a grown man. I was laughing at Bobcats fans at this signing. Now they are laughing at me. He has transformed a complete laughingstock of a franchise to as of this writing the #6 seed in the Eastern Conference standings. He scored 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. His post game is absolutely ridiculous. It’s not like he is being contained on an off night, he’s just misses. He provides the low post presence the Bobcats has missed since…..you get the picture. Kemba Walker should pay for his off-season vacation for even considering to come to Charlotte as bad as this bunch was a couple of years ago. The one guy I do feel happy for is Michael Jordan who was getting scorched down in Charlotte. He was even getting booed in the arena. NO LIE! The hiring of Rich Cho to make the basketball decisions (smart move number one), the hiring of a REAL coach Steve Clifford (smart move number two), and just letting them do their jobs (smart move number three) has transformed this franchise into a playoff team. Congratulations to the Bobcats fans! You deserve it.
As for the Washington Wizards, let me tell everyone this. If John Wall doesn’t figure out how to play a better, more efficient floor game, the Wizards will be out in a week and a half. To watch the Wizards line up and shoot jumpers all night drove me nuts. John Wall had the ball at the end of the game with a chance to end the game in regulation. He couldn’t even get a shot off. In overtime, the Wizards had no field goals. They had ONE free throw. I don’t care that Wall had a triple double. He can’t execute in the half court with the game on the line. The Wizards are 4-8 in overtime games this season. This team does not play well together these days.
The Bulls do not have the tie breaker against the Raptors so they have to beat Toronto outright. The message is clear…WIN!