G1: Bulls 93, Heat 86: Stunner! "Our backs are against the wall now." Champs must respond; plus D-Rose poll, the man who denied LeBron & more
1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 8. New blogpost coming later this morning! 2) The Steelers signed an offensive tackle named Guy Whimper. That's right: Guy Whimper. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron's MVP, updated NBA playoff odds, Dolphins' stadium loss, Tyson Clabo, Orb, media bias, Sad-O-Meter retired. 4) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.
Click on This Just Got Interesting for my column off Heat's Game 1 Heat loss.
G1: BULLS 93, HEAT 86: MIAMI FLAT AFTER LONG LAYOFF (Bulls lead 1-0; Game 2 Wednesday in Miami): Too easy to blame the rest and the rust. Too convenient. That might explain the slow start for Miami Monday, but does it also explain the Heat leading by four after three quarters and then surrendering 35 fourth-quarter points? Miami shot poorly (39.7%), got out-rebounded and maybe underestimated the Bulls' will. "Our backs are against the wall now," said Chris Bosh. "We have to respond." The backs-against-wall thing might be a bit dramatic, or at least early. But the need to respond Wednesday in Game 2 is beyond paramount. ..... Original post: The Bulls are talking the talk, but when they try to walk the walk, the walk has a limp. Can an injured, hobbled Chicago squad coming right off a wearying 7-game series stand up to a rested, reigning champion? Let's find out! Bulls will be missing both Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich tonight, and a couple of other guys, notably Joakim Noah (foot; pictured left in an intimate moment with LeBron James) are not 100 percent. Then there's the whole missing Derrick Rose drama. Da Bulls are feisty, though, still smarting over the 2011 playoffs when Chicago was top-seeded but got bounced by Miami in five games. That's when Noah called the flashy Heat "Hollywood as hell," remember? This time around, says Bull Taj Gibson, "Words cannot express how badly we want to beat them." Added teammate Marco Belinelli, "We're not going to be scared and our mentality is to win." OK good luck with that. Fully healthy (Rose, Deng) I do think Chitown matches up pretty well, as a rugged-defending, strong-rebounding team. They can stretch this series if Carlos Boozer comes up big and Nate Robinson is hot. But the Bulls just aren't healthy. Oh, and Miami ain't Brooklyn. Series pick: Heat in 5 games.
SHOULD DERRICK ROSE BE PLAYING?: It's the question Chicagoans have been wondering, and now it overshadows this Heat-Bulls playoff series that starts tonight. Derrick Rose, star guard, had his knee surgery almost exactly one year ago and is medically cleared to play but says he is not ready. "You want that (to play), but you've got to look at the big picture," he said over the weekend. "If I'm not healthy, no way I'm stepping on the court. I'm in control of the whole process." It is not ruled out that Rose might return later in this Heat series -- but not expected. Imagine if Rose were on your team. How would you feel about his continuing caution. Vote and say why.
MEET GARY WASHBURN, PROFESSIONAL SPOIL SPORT: The Boston Globe's Celtics writer Gary Washburn (pictured) has identified himself with a story today as being the one voter, of 121, who did not cast a first-place vote for LeBron James for NBA MVP. James would have been the first unanimous winner ever if not for Washburn, who voted for the Knicks' ball-hoggin' Carmelo Anthony. Washburn made two points in his mea culpa. One was that he was surprised to be the lone wolf, thinking that Kevin Durant, Anthony, CHris Paul and perhaps Kobe Bryant all would get first-place votes. (Dear Gary: No, because everybody else but you knew who the clear MVP choice was). His second point was, "I thought Anthony was the most valuable player to his team this season, not the best player in the league." (Dear Gary: Voters every year, including 120 of 121 this year, sort of see it as a league-wide award, not a team award). I was harsh last night in the blog to call the then-mystery voter an "idiot." I don't think Washburn, whom I do not know, is an idiot. I do think he's a guy who cast a really bad vote that he'll wear like an ill-fitting suit the rest of his career.
SERENA WILLIAMS SLAMMED BY PROTEGE: Rising American tennis star Sloane Stephens, 20, calls her former hero Serena Williams, 31, a fraud who has been unkind and shunned her. Surprising stuff (click here to read), because I saw Serena as a mentor to Stephens. Not shocking, though. Serena is a real diva and I have written as much, including noting during the recent Key Biscayne tournament here that she kept a room full of reporters waiting close to an hour without a word of explanation, let alone apology.
UPDATED BASEBALL AWARDS ODDS: From Bovada, favorites as of today: NL MVP, Braves' Justin Upton 9-2; Cy Young, Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw 3-1. AL MVP, Tigers' Miguel Cabrera 2-1; Cy Young, Red Sox's Clay Buchholz 11-4.
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