(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Monday, May 13, 2013

Aggressive Play in the NBA Playoffs

Familiarity does breed contempt.

After a while, you just cannot out-run, out-jump or out-finesse another team.

No, you must get into their grills, hip check them when they run by and hope that you don't get caught, set a pick with your forearms, push people, hook people, start fights.

Sounds like the NHL.

The Bulls, quite simply, need to calm down.  Yes, they are short-handed, and yes, they still have some talent, but their losing of their cool will only hurt them.  Their heating up did not melt the Heat, who stood tall despite some ill-advised if not outright stupid play. 

But this is what happens in seven-game series.  You just get to know your opponents too well.  That doesn't mean that they irritate you (although Joakim Noah seems like a human irritant at times), it's just that it gets harder to figure them out. 

As Robert Duvall said in "Days of Thunder, "It's not rubbin', it's racin'." 

Perhaps it's not pushin', shovin' and thuggin', it's just basketball. 

But then again, the smarter teams seem to get around those who resort to a style of physical play that goes beyond the acceptable. 

The Bulls' coaches can complain about the officials all that they want to.  But the fact that they are complaining in and of itself demonstrates that their leadership is poor, because their players are focused on the wrong things, such as playing too angry.  Instead, they should be focused on having the players channel their passion, play tighter defense, and figure out how to cross up and confuse the Heat.  Sure, it would be nice to have Rose, Deng and Heinrich, but they are not there, and histrionics will not bring them back (or the Bulls back, for that matter).

The intensity is great, and no one wants to take away that.  But in the Bulls-Heat series, it's time for the Bulls to play smarter.


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