February 28, 2010
Ordinarily, fans would revel in the kind of record the Bulls have compiled over the past couple of weeks. But the combination of relatively soft competition, coupled with their many mistakes and weaknesses exposed, has led, for me at least, to more anxiety than celebration.
Using last night’s game against the Trailblazers as a microcosm, lets take a look at some of the positives and negatives of the current Bulls.
Derrick Rose continues to improve, at least on offense. His jumper is becoming more consistent and accurate, making him an exceptionally tough one-on-one cover, and he is gaining confidence in doing what stars are supposed to do at crunch time late in games. We’re very lucky to have him.
Noah looked something like the Noah of old for the first time since his plantar fasciitis first flared up. This was a sharp reminder of how much better the Bulls are with him in the lineup. The team’s energy, interior defense, and even the offense all benefit from his presence.
Taj Gibson continues to impress with his excellent learning curve, as evidenced by his beautiful sealing off of Aldridge on the Rose lay-up. How many rookies ever make such savvy plays?
Deng and Hinrich continue to shoot well.
Warrick is best when moving through or slashing into the lane, and receiving the ball close to the basket (or on a fast break). Why, then, is he being used to receive the ball out around the key, if not to screen and roll? He also took at least two shots that were well outside of his range, and shouldn’t even have been out where he received those passes.
Why is Pargo handling the ball when Murray is in the game with him? The latter has shown good skills and judgment thus far when handling the ball, so why not trust him to use those skills?
VDN – typically – allowed a 13 point lead to dwindle to four before calling a timeout. Good coaches use timeouts proactively; Vinny is almost always reactive, and slow at that.
Very sloppy passing by the Bulls throughout the game. The coach should be all over his players about fundamental lapses, and the same problem should never continue throughout a whole game (which it did in this case).
Gibson really needs to work on receiving passes down low (pun intended). He has shown some very promising signs of becoming an effective low post player, so it would benefit the Bulls to design more plays for him. At the same time, however, he continues to have trouble receiving passes below his waist, and needs to work on concentrating on the ball, much like an NFL receiver.
The Bulls were not going aggressively after loose balls, which is precisely the type of fundamental lapse that will cost them games. Once again, this shouldn’t be tolerated by coaches.
While Deng continues to shoot well, he also continues to force too many shots when he barrels into the lane. The aggression is a good thing, but not if he insists on making his mind up to shoot at the beginning of each drive.
Late in the game two woefully ineffective timeouts in a row. The first ended up with Rose predictably double-teamed and trapped, and the second the Bulls weren’t even able to get the ball in. C’mon Vinny, don’t you read BY THE HORNS?
Free throws. Again, a fundamental aspect of the sport that a team like the Bulls cannot afford to screw up. Elite teams can get away with poor free throw shooting at times, but teams like the Bulls will have to shoot well at the line in order to beat better teams.
We know that Kirk is our best defending guard, so why wasn’t he covering Roy rather than Deng when it counted?
Should Noah be playing at all? How the Bulls handle him for the rest of the season will obviously have a major impact on their chances to make, and have any success in the playoffs.
About the author:
Tony C. grew up in Evanston, and cut his teeth on the exciting, early ’70′s Walker-Love-Sloan-Van Lier Bulls. As a pick-up player, he admits to having stuck too long with low-top shoes (Puma Baskets, for the detail oriented), but did belatedly make the switch when the sprained ankles became tedious. Tony’s professional life revolves mainly around buying, selling and managing Thoroughbred racehorses. While he now resides outside of Chicago, he remains an interested, enthusiastic, and at times critical Bulls fan.
December 8, 2009
Only 18 games into the 2009-10 season, the Bulls appear to have a few significant team needs. These include: an inside scoring threat, a few high percentage three-point marksman (or even one would help), a shooting coach to work with John Salmons and Kirk Hinrich, a beefy frontcourt player who can push big men out of the paint and help Joakim Noah protect the defensive backboards, a fountain of youth for Brad Miller (who seems to be experiencing an accelerated aging process), an open lane or two for Derrick Rose to drive through (the three-point shooters would help facilitate this need), and a few more healthy bodies.
And while we’re asking the Wizard of Oz for all that, maybe he’ll throw in a brain, a heart, some courage and a pair of ruby high tops too.
Basically, the Bulls have personnel issues. They, as it turns out, are a poorly constructed team. That would be the case even if Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas were healthy. The Ty Thomas for Al Harrington trade rumors seem to be a concession by Chicago management that the team — as presently constructed — has (to put it nicely) a talent deficit.
But what would provide some immediate help is a certified team leader. Good teams, or even slightly above-average teams that manage to stay competitive, usually have an alpha dog. The Lakers have Kobe Bryant. The Cavaliers have LeBron James. The Spurs (although they’ve been struggling) have Tim Duncan. The Celtics have an alpha dog on offense (Paul Pierce) anddefense (Kevin Garnett). The Nuggets have an alpha scorer (Carmelo Anthony) and an alpha playmaker (Chauncey Billups). The Suns have Steve Nash. The Mavericks have Dirk Nowitzki. The Heat have Dwyane Wade. So on and so forth.
The Bulls have nobody to fill that role. And, frankly, they haven’t had a true alpha dog since Michael Jordan retired. That’s actually why John Paxson vastly overpaid to steal Ben Wallace from the Detroit Pistons. Right team, wrong alpha dog. (Chauncey Billups, as the Nuggets found out, was the conductor of that gravy train.) Ben Gordon was as close as it got — although he didn’t have the all-around skills and/or the necessary defensive chops necessary to be a true alpha — but he’s long gone now.
In theory, Derrick Rose should be that guy. He’s a former number one overall draft pick and Chicago’s franchise player. And which Gordon playing ball a state away, Rose was expected to become the new team leader/go-to guy. It hasn’t happened yet…and you wonder when and if it ever will. Obviously, the kid has a long, long career ahead of him, so I haven’t exactly given up hope that his inner alpha dog will come bursting and barking out of its shell.
However, I can’t help but wonder…doesn’t Rose seem like too nice, to laid back, maybe even too passive to be that guy? His talent is clearly off the charts. Physically, there isn’t anything he shouldn’t be able to do with a little time and effort. But most players display the requisite alpha qualities – that grit, that desire, that killer instinct, that willingness to pull his own team up by the bootstraps while simultaneously putting his foot on the opposing team’s throat — almost immediately or not at all.
Derrick is barely into his sophomore season. He still has a chance. But it has to start soon. Not to go all Obi Wan Kenobi, but that boy is our last hope among the current players. If Luol Deng or Hinrich had it in them, things would have gone very differently over the last five seasons. John Salmons is a role player. Joakim Noah has the intensity and desire, but he lacks the presence and all-around skill set. Asking Brad Miller to go alpha would be like asking lead to turn itself into gold.
At any rate, this is something worth thinking about as the season progresses. Because if Rose doesn’t start to show some alpha dog tendencies, it should have a drastic impact on who the Bulls go after during next summer’s free agent bonanza. (Or at this season’s trade deadline if the Bulls are searching for a mega-deal.) Conventional wisdom seems to indicate that the team’s primary need is a frontcourt scorer like Chris Bosh or Carlos Boozer. But while an acquisition of that nature would fill a gaping hole, it would still (as far as we can currently tell) leave the team leaderless.
Wouldn’t that make somebody like, say, Dwyane Wade a better target?
Of course, that would change if Rose steps it up and marks his territory. And if that happens, the Bulls will become better immediately. Not a contender, maybe, but a challenging, competitive, more exciting team.
April 30, 2009
The ruling is in: NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson believes that Rondo’s ear-boxing of Brad Miller was just a plain old foul. Said Stu: “We felt Rondo was making a basketball play and going for the ball after a blown defensive assignment by the Celtic team. In terms of the criteria that we use to evaluate a flagrant foul penalty one, generally we like to consider whether or not there was a windup, an appropriate level of impact and a follow-through. And with this foul, we didn’t see a windup, nor did he follow through. So for that reason we’re not going to upgrade this foul to a flagrant foul penalty one.”
Okay, while I will agree that there was no windup or follow-through, the “making a basketball play and going for the ball” part makes me wonder whether Jackson had access to the same pictures and video that the rest of the world has been discussing ad infinitum for the last day and a half. I mean, not only did Rondo clearly not make a play for the ball, he wasn’t even able to may a play on Miller’s arm. So based on the precedent set by this ruling, you can club an opponent in the head to prevent an easy bucket…as long as you don’t wind up or follow through on it. Gotcha, Stu. Thanks for clearing that up.
The ruling is a rather predictable cop out, considering that the league hates to admit when officials make huge, game-changing mistakes, especially in high-profile playoff games. David Stern would sooner confess to being the Batman than acknowledge that his referees sometimes err, or that those errors might actually swing the results of important games. For the record, Bill Simmons predicted this: “Should Rajon Rondo be suspending for Game 6 for raking Miller across the face? Yes. Because he admitted afterward that it was kinda, sorta intentional. But here’s why the league WON’T suspend him: The NBA would be admitting the officials blew that call. So, they’ll fine Rondo and admonish him in a statement, and that will be that. Gotta keep the illusion going that NBA referees don’t suck!”
Look, I’m not calling for a fine, or a suspension, or for a redo of the final two seconds of Game 5, or even an admission that, had the correct call been made, the game might have ended differently. I just want consistency. I simply want a league that has spent the last few years trying to outlaw blows to the head that can injure or endanger its players to stand by their supposed mission statement and say, “Oops, we goofed. Won’t let it happen again.” That’s it. Is that really too much to ask?
According to Stu Jackson: Yes.
However, you can probably expect closer officiating scrutiny in Game 6. Game 5 was edging close to “let ‘em play” status. I doubt you’ll see that tonight. And I would guess that — after Miller suggested that the Celtics have been popping Bulls players in the head all series — that any further hand-to-head, elbow-to-head, or anything-else-to-head contact will be punished quickly and severely.
Rose versus Rondo: Hey, did you know that Rondo is averaging a triple-double (24.2 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 10.2 APG) for the series? Oh. Right. You don’t live under a rock, so of course you knew that already. But lost in all the “Rajon Rondo is the next great point guard” stories is the fact that Derrick Rose’s defense has been positively Steve Nash-like. His Defensive Rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) for the playoffs is 112. That’s 10thworst on the team…ahead of only Ben Gordon (115) and Aaron Gray (also 115). Rose can’t stay in front of Rondo, and he struggles mightily to stay with him in transition. I bet there are times when Rondo feels like he’s playing in an empty gym.
Of course, it doesn’t help that Vinny Del Negro can’t seem to come up with any defensive schemes to pull Derrick’s fat out of the fire. But here’s my thing: If Rose can’t stop Rondo — and all indications are that he can’t — then he really, really needs to force Rondo to play some defense. Derrick has become way to tentative. I’m all for players letting the game come to them, but Rose absolutely HAS TO turn his aggressiveness dial to 11 in Game 6. (And Game 7, if it comes to that.)
Kirk Hinrich: More Bill Simmons, from the article I linked to above: “Played so well on both ends that I’m now moving him into that Jason Terry/Mo Williams “We got overpaid and teams were afraid to trade for us, and maybe we let it affect us a little, but we remained talented, and as soon as our situations turned a little and our teams improved, we made a comeback; now everyone feels absolutely stupid for not trading for us when they could have had us for 40 cents on the dollar” group. Hinrich makes $10 million this season and $26.5 million total over the next three. That’s not a fair price? How could the Blazers not make a run at him when they’re trotting out that hideous combo of Steve Blake and Sergio Rodriguez? This bugs me.”
I totally agree. Of course, I’ve been saying the same thing for months on this very blog. Now media peeps like Simmons are noticing that too. And so, as it happens, are the Celtics. Said Kendrick Perkins: “We first have to stop Kirk Hinrich. He just can’t keep coming in and hurting us and giving them a spark. We shut Kirk Hinrich down and we can close out the series.” So I guess we can expect some “Hinrich Rules” from the Celtics tonight.
Kendrick Perkins: In Game 5, Perkins became the first player with at least 19 rebounds and 7 blocks in a playoff game since Tim Duncan accomplished it against the Nets in Game 6 the 2003 NBA Finals. But do you know what makes that feat even more impressive? He managed to play 48 minutes and 20 seconds of super-aggressive — I’m talking elbows-flying, lookout-below aggressive — basketball without committing a single personal foul. That seems almost impossible. And mind you, Perk fouled out of Game 5. Hey, there’s no cookin’ like home cookin’. I have a feeling he’ll earn a few tweets in Chicago tonight.
Paul Pierce: I know Vinny kind of wrote Pierce’s game-breaking hot streak in Game 5′s overtime session as a great player hitting tough shots, but I’d be willing to bet good money that, should The Truth start heating up in Game 6, you’ll see the Bulls uses some trapping and double-teaming schemes on him.
April 29, 2009
Kevin Garnett: Did anybody else notice KG tongue-lashing an impassive Ben Gordon last night (as beautifully illustrated above)? Way to stay classy, Kevin. Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure there are rules prohibiting a player on the bench from verbally abusing an opponent who happens to be strolling by. But you know, the refs have a history of turning a blind eye to Garnett’s “intensity” in Boston. Just ask Jose Calderon.
Ben Gordon: He gets full marks for logging a team-high 51 minutes on an injured hammy, but damn, that dude is a straight-up gun. A lot of times, an injured player will try to work himself into the offense. Not Gordon. He’s more likely to grab the offense by the throat and try to wrestle it to the ground. Ben discharged eight shots in the first quarter, two of which hit the target. Hey, sometimes the only bad shot is the one you didn’t take, right? I don’t know why I’m complaining, though. That’s the Air Gordon package. Complaining about his gunnery is like using a pack of wild, angry dogs to protect your home and then feeling guilty when they maul somebody.
The Celtics’ front line: How about those Boston big men, huh? Without Garnett, the Green Monsters were supposed to be vulnerable up front, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Kendrick Perkins had 19 rebounds and 7 blocks. Those are game-of-your-life numbers. And then there’s Big Baby. Forget the 21 points on near-perfect shooting (7-for-11 from the field, 7-for-8 from the line). Davis made great decisions, took advantage of mismatches and set some seriously brutal picks. Trying to get around Baby is like trying to break into a bank vault with a stick of butter. There’s no “wicked-awesome picks” column in the box score, but if there was, Glen Davis would stuff it full. Oh, he also had a game-high plus-minus score of +16.
The end-of-game defense on Paul Pierce: Remember that 15-footer he knocked down to send the game to overtime? Thanks to a defensive switch, Pierce was able to shoot it over the shorter Derrick Rose, which means he might as well have been shooting over a traffic cone. After the game, I went back and watched a slow-motion replay of that sequence, and it sure looked like John Salmons was super-quick to switch off of Pierce on that play. I see that kind of thing a lot in pickup ball. Not many people want the responsibility of defending the last shot. I’m not saying Salmons was ducking his duty, but that’s sort of what it looked like from the danger-free comfort of my easy chair.
When asked about the defense he used on Pierce in overtime — during which the Truth blasted the Bulls with three straight jump shots — Vinny didn’t exactly dismiss the question, but he essentially let it pass as a great player hitting tough shots. And that’s pretty much true…to a point. But you know, Ray Allen (who fouled out in the fourth quarter) was out of the game. That meant the Celtics had an offensive non-entity on the floor (Tony Allen, who went scoreless in 17 minutes off the bench). So why didn’t Vinny use Tony’s man to trap Pierce, or at least force him away from that little area around the free throw circle he loves to isolate and shoot from? I understand that Del Negro has had a lot of success in this series letting Salmons guard Pierce one-on-one. However, he basically let Pierce have the shots he wanted to take. And sure, Paul had to hit them, and they were difficult, contested shots, but I would have much rather seen Tony Allen with the ball than Pierce.
The “non-flagrant” foul: The NBA’s official rule on flagrant fouls states: “A flagrant foul-penalty (1) is unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent. A flagrant foul-penalty (2) is unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent. It is an unsportsmanlike act and the offender is ejected immediately.” Well, Brad Miller was bleeding from the mouth, had a tooth knocked loose and looked like he would have had trouble spelling his name. Brad needed stitches to close the wound and, for all we know, he might have even thought he was the Batman. That sure sounds like “unnecessary and excessive contact” to me. But it wasn’t a flagrant. Also, notice the closed hand, which is nowhere near the ball, looks almost fist-like.
It’s funny. Back in March, Trevor Ariza hit Rudy Fernandez in the head from behind and got treated like some sort of deranged serial killer in the media and across the blogosphere. A flagrant was assessed on the play and Ariza was ejected (though not suspended from any future games). But I guess that play was different because Rudy, who was airborne at the moment of contact, got injured, and because Ariza is bigger than Fernandez. In this case, Miller was the big man, and he’s certainly not a threat to leave the ground unless launched from a very sturdy catapult. Oh, and the Ariza-Fernandez incident occurred during the regular season, whereas this is the postseason, which made Rondo’s mugging of Miller just a good, hard playoff foul, right? Riiiiiiight. And I’m sure that seeing double at the line didn’t affect Miller’s free throw shooting, either.
Update! More on this situation from TrueHoop: “Doc Rivers raved about the foul, and rightly so: If that’s not going to be called a flagrant — a common call for blows to the head that are not plays on the ball — it’s amazing. How else could a player who was well and truly beaten both prevent a wide-open layup, and reduce a player’s likelihood of hitting his free throws? As it was called a regular personal foul, Miller had to shoot the free throws himself, or be replaced by a Bull of Doc Rivers’ choosing. Miller shot, and missed, while blinking again and again, apparently impaired by the fumes of the compound used to close the wounds in his mouth. If it had been called a flagrant, Vinny Del Negro could have specified the shooter of his choice (in the playoffs, Ben Gordon, John Salmons, Derrick Rose and Tyrus Thomas are all over 80%), and the Bulls would have had the ball after the shots. With a flagrant, the Bulls would have been favorites to win. Without a flagrant, a blow to the head of the guy shooting for the game is a savvy tactic.”
April 28, 2009
This Bulls-Celtics series has had more unexpected twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Except, unlike an M. Night Shyamalan movie, I could watch these games over and over again. (Sans Game 3, of course.) I have no idea what to expect from Game 5. (Although I have a sneaking and somewhat paranoid suspicion that Games 5 and 6 might have some 20/20 Rule action going on.) So rather than a game preview, here are some random thoughts I’ve had during the series.
Derrick Rose: If Derrick can tighten up his defense, develop a three-point shot and become a slightly more creative playmaker (ala Chris Paul), he’ll be The Perfect Point Guard. However, he’s a little too quiet for my tastes, though. Maybe we could sprinkle a little Matt Foley into his magic sauce?
Ben Gordon: His playoff performance just goes to show that it’s never too late for the Contract Year Phenomenon. It’s hard to imagine John Paxson breaking the team’s piggy bank to re-sign Ben, and it’s even harder to imagine the Air Gordon act being a success anyplace but in Chicago. It’s long past the point where we can expect Gordon to expand his game. He is what he is, and that’s an undersized shooting guard who’s often a liability on defense but can be flat-out unstoppable on offense. During the regular season, Ben set a career-high in True Shooting Percentage (57.3 percent). For the sake of perspective, that mark was better than Kobe Bryant’s (56.1) and just a tad below Dwyane Wade’s (57.4). So Ben’s targeting computer is on par with a couple legit MVP candidates. Not too shabby.
But BG is like your crazy college girlfriend. His 40-point outbursts and game-winning shots are like that amazing sex that made you think, “I want to spend the rest of my life with this woman.” But watching him get abused on defense by bigger guards — and let’s face it, they’re all bigger — or miss running, one-handed bank shots with 20 seconds left on the shot clock are like finding out she dumped you again on the night of the Residence Hall Formal so she could get drunk with some frat guy she just met. Not that that happened to me, or that I’m still bitter or anything…I’m just sayin’.
Anyway, part of me wants Ben to retire as a Bull, and another part of me wants to wish him well, see him off and move on. And I’m kind of glad that, unlike Paxson, I’m not the one who has to make that decision.
Joakim Noah: I love this guy’s energy. There were times during his rookie year and earlier this season where his drive often seemed spastic and misdirected. But now he’s making good things happen. Take the second overtime of Game 4, for example. When just about everybody else looked like they were running on fumes, Noah grabbed three boards, blocked two shots and had a nasty, momentum-sustaining jam (off a slick pass from Kirk Hinrich) with a buck twenty-five to go. Not bad for a young fella in his first playoffs. Note that the current postseason numbers have him tied for third (with LeBron James) in rebounding (at 11.3 per) and second (behind Tyrus Thomas) in blocks (3.0).
One area Noah needs to work on is working out. The kid needs to beef up. Boston’s Kendrick Perkins has been backing him down in the post with frightening ease. And that was a theme all season. Even power forwards like Al Jefferson were able to muscle Joakim down low. I understand Jo’s an undersized center, but that can be changed. Take a look at Brad Miller. That dude was a beanpole coming out of Purdue, which is probably part of the reason he went undrafted. But he beefed up, turned into a solid post defender and went from a near seven-footer nobody wanted to take a chance on — even with a nearly meaningless second-round pick — to a two-time All-Star who’s been in the league for 11 seasons. So I have two words of advice for Joakim: BEEFCAKE! BEEFCAAAAAAKE!!
One last note. Jo was the first player back on the court after halftime of Game 4. I watched him shoot jumpers for about five minutes and was amazed to see him knock down eight or nine in a row from about 15 feet. Yet, according to the NBA.com’s Hot Spots page, Joakim took exactly 13 jump shots all season. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m don’t want him to become a bomber. But the occasional 15-footer to keep defenses honest would be nice.
Tyrus Thomas: This man makes me crazy. Like Stacey King likes to say, he teases you with his athleticism. He can jam with the best of them, block shots, rebound, run the floor. But it’s one of those classic Body by Fisher, mind by Fisher Price situations. I don’t trust his decision-making abilities. There was a perfect example of this in Game 4. With the Bulls clinging to a two-point lead, Tyrus snared a critical defensive rebound, but instead of giving the ball to Derrick Rose, he held onto it and let Rajon Rondo foul him with 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Naturally, Ty was able to hit only one out of two at the line, which paved the way for Ray Allen’s game-tying three-pointer seven seconds later. It’s little mental lapses like that — in addition to the many occasions in which he eschews a drive to the hoop for 20-foot jump shots — that cause me to question his basketball IQ, and whether he’ll ever “get it.” For his sake as well as the team’s, I sure hope so. (But I’m not holding my breath.)
John Salmons: Shortly after the Bulls acquired John, my buddy Statbuster and I heard a broadcaster for a worldwide leader in sports entertainment that shall remain nameless refer to Salmons as “sam-uhns,” as in the fish. Not once, mind you, but several times. That led Statbuster to quip: “John Salmons, swimming upstream for the Bulls, coming to Chicago to reproduce and die.” This cracked me up so much I promised myself I’d include it here someday. And now I have.
Anyway, Salmons was absolutely fantastic, on both offense and defense, right up until he suffered that groin injury. He hasn’t been the same since. This makes me look forward to seeing what he can do next season when he’s completely healthy. But, to be honest, it also makes me wonder, “What if this injury is just an excuse and he’s not really as good as we thought?” Plus, there’s the question of what his place in the team’s offense will be when he’s playing alongside Luol Deng.
Kirk Hinrich: We know that John Paxson was trying to dump Kirk’s contract before the trade deadline, and it’s a fairly safe bet that he’ll resume that mission this offseason and into the next regular season. I know he’s a cap killer, and I get that his eternal five o’clock shadow makes him look like he just rolled out of bed after a long night of partying, but he’s a great insurance policy at the point and the two spot, plus he plays tough, persistent defense. Hey, he was key in holding down Paul Pierce in Game 4. The Bulls might now win that game without that. (Not to mention his 18 points off the bench.) I understand that cap space has become the ultimate goal of all NBA GMs, but Kirk makes this team deeper and better.
Vinny Del Negro: Like it or not, it’s practically a lock that the Notorious VDN will be back in the Captain’s Chair for the Bulls next season. There’s no question that Vinny has made a lot of mistakes this season. But it’s also true that he got better and accomplished quite a lot, given the team’s injury problems and personnel turnover. Plus, one thing his critics fail to point out is that, while he may be stubborn, he’s not stupid. For instance, remember earlier in the season when he inexplicably began benching Derrick Rose in the fourth quarter, forcing John Paxson to go public with a “Play Rose or Else” edict? Vinny gave a typically stubborn “I’m the coach and I’ll do what I feel is best” response…but you’ll notice that he immediately stopped sitting Derrick in clutch time.
Then, when the media was ragging on him for running out of timeouts at the end of Games 1 and 2, he brushed off their carping and said he had no regrets, which brought on a whole new tidal wave of “What an idiot!” criticism. But — surprise, surprise! — you’ll notice that he sure didn’t run out of timeouts down the stretch of Game 4. As Vinny likes to remind us, he’s Italian, which makes him come off as stubborn and prideful. But even though he doesn’t always admit his mistakes to the press, he does make adjustments. Maybe not all the ones that the armchair coaches around the world think he should make…but he makes ‘em. And as out-of-sorts and unprepared as the team looked in Game 3, they were all business in Game 4.
I’m not saying that Vinny’s a great coach, or that he’s going to be a great coach, or even that he’s the man for this particular job. Only that it seems to me that, in the rush to bash his mistakes, his critics rarely spend a single second considering his successes.