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Cerebral Sports Chicago

A true and unbiased Cerebral view on the sports world.

NBA

The Ultimate NBA Series

The NBA is not what it used to be. The rule changes and lack of defense has turned off some loyal NBA fans in the past fifteen years. Though the NBA still provides high TV numbers, they lack the intense rivalries that fueled the league back in the early eighties and nineties. I want to take a look into the past and the present to bring together the all-time rosters for some of the best NBA franchises. The players will all be considered in their prime and will be on the team that made their career most memorable. Some duplicates will exist in the case of a player like Dennis Rodman who was a main member on both championship Detroit Piston teams and three of the Chicago Bulls championships.

Today I will take a look at the super power match up of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls. Here are the Rosters.

Lakers

PG – Magic Johnson – Jerry West - Gail Goodrich

SG – Kobe Bryant – Byron Scott – Michael Cooper

SF – James Worthy – Elgin Baylor - Robert Horry

PF – Shaquille O’Neal – Vlade Divac

C – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – George Mikan

Bulls

PG – Derrick Rose – Ron Harper – Norm Van Lier

SG – Michael Jordan – Jimmy Butler -

SF – Scottie Pippen – Toni Kukoc

PF – Dennis Rodman – Horace Grant – Taj Gibson

C – Artis Gilmore – Joakim Noah

It is hard to bet against Michael Jordan in anything to do with basketball, but with such a storied history that is the Lakers will be a true test for the Bulls. The story-line match up of Kobe and Michael will be the main focus of this series, but many other parts go into the equation. I only see the Lakers winning due to the superb front line combination of Shaq and Kareem.

Now the simulation! The surprising x factor in this series ended up being Dennis Rodman due to his effect mentally on Shaq and taking him out of his game throughout the series. Controlling the rebounding battle allowed the Bulls to control the tempo offensively and defensively. The true essence of a brutal nineties series holds true in this match up.

With every team winning their home games the series ends up in Los Angeles for game seven. Though most of the series was dominated by low post play and stifling defense, game seven was different. Jordan went off on a tear to start the game hitting eight straight shots, but Kobe and Shaw followed suit and tied up the game heading into half time. Not many more adjustments could be made as both of these teams knew each other inside and out.

The decision by Bulls coach Phil Jackson to play Rodman at the center position and Pippen at the point really threw the Lakers for a loss in the second half. Still, the game would come down to both teams being tied with five seconds left. The Lakers had the ball with Magic Johnson in-bounding the ball to Kobe, but Scottie Pippen got a hand on the inbound and Dennis Rodman dove to catch the ball with 2.2 seconds left.

The play Jackson drew up was simple. Run Michael off of a back screen and hit him with a pass so he could catch and shoot in the corner. Lakers coach Pat Riley defended this by putting two players on Jordan, but unknowingly left Toni Kukoc open at the top of the key. Without hesitation Pippen threw the ball into Kukoc who hit the open jumper with time expiring.

Not a bad opening round series!

Next up for the Bulls are the all-time Houston Rockets. Here is the starting lineup for the Rockets.

PG – Sam Cassel

SG – Clyde Drexler

SF – Tracy McGrady

PF – Moses Malone

C = Hakeem Olajuwon

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The Chicago Bulls Toxicity Report

The state of the Chicago Bulls has been pretty ugly in the past few years, with this year getting even uglier. Bulls new head coach Fred Hoiberg took over this year, but things have gone from bad to terrible in that time. With less than ten games left this year the Bulls sit two full games out of the eastern conference playoff picture. With the type of salary devoted to this team not making the playoffs would be an utter disaster. At some point the Bulls ownership need to hold management accountable for this sinking status that currently covers the organization like a dense fog.

The Bulls have lacked a consistency that has been clearly evident all year. Defensively the team has absolutely flat lined over the past year and a half continues to show no sign of life. Offensively, there is no chemistry in either the front or back court. The fact Hoiberg has still not found out how to play Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, and Pau Gasol together effectively blows my mind.

Sure, the Bulls have had a plethora of injuries throughout the season, but who hasn’t? This team was built with allot of depth and talent, but the philosophy seems to be skewed. When the Bulls did loose players like Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler. They had significant production from Etwan Moore, Doug McDermott, and rookie Bobby Portis. But still the Bulls could not create any traction in the eastern conference and still continued to lose to horrible teams.

It is very frustrating for Bulls fans to have some great performances, but not being able to put them all together to produce a winning basketball team. This is clearly evident with the play of Derrick Rose who has missed some games this season sporadically, but overall has been a major contributor by playing at a very high level. No one thought Derrick would come back at the MVP level of a few years ago, but he has. Yet the Bulls can’t capitalize on most of these games and end up wasting another outstanding performance.

Ideally the Bulls need to improve the center position to set a better foundation going into the future. Also, regardless of Derrick Rose the Bulls need to invest in a top tier point guard to better help ensure better offensive flow and efficiency. Derrick might be an asset the Bulls trade this off season due to the fact his return value might be at its highest. The fact is everyone on this team should be available to better help bring some assets back here to Chicago.

Hopefully the Bulls front office management and ownership will make the tough decisions needed for the Bulls to take a step forward into the future instead of taking another step backwards.  

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The Toronto Raptors have had an above average amount of success thus far for the NBA regular season this year. Trailing the Cleveland Cavaliers by only two games for the number one spot in the Eastern Conference is a huge step forward for head coach Dwayne Casey and team. The troubling fact is Raptors are falling apart at the seams at the absolute worst time.

The issues stem from the point guard of the Raptors Kyle Lowry who has been hampered the past few months since January with elbow issues, thus making his shooting abilities and efficiency struggle significantly. This has even resulted in Lowry having the have his elbow drained as early as this past weekend.

This team has been put forward by a strong defense, but nothing really spectacular on the offensive end of late. Efficiency wise they have out played themselves so far and are starting to come back to reality. The truth of the matter is the Raptors lack some desperately needed wing play to complement DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry in the back court.

Kevin Durant

Ideally the Raptors should get into the mix for a star player like Kevin Durant of the OKC Thunder who is a free agent this summer. Playing with a true point guard like Lowry could be a tremendous selling point for Durant who has played with the energetic shooting guard slash point guard in Russell Westbrook. Also, the fact Toronto has no income tax should be another point of emphasis for Durant heading into next year.

I just don’t see the Raptors having enough star power to beat teams like Cleveland, Miami, or even the Boston Celtics who are having a great year under head coach Brad Stevens. Unfortunately the Raptors do not have enough to get past the second round in the NBA playoffs this year. This will be a hard and bitter pill to swallow for Toronto fans, but they must use this as motivation for coming back next year that much better.

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