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PhilBoxing.com Special 2011 NBA Playoffs Coverage: Homer Sayson is Back!


PhilBoxing.com




Editor's Note: After months of sabbatical, one of the Philippines' most colorful print and radio personalities our very own Homer D. Sayson is back to bring us inside coverage and news analysis of the current NBA Playoffs run. Sayson, based in Chicago, will be courtside during the Chicago home games as long as the Derrick Rose-led Bulls stays in the series. Welcome back Homer!


THE 2011 NBA PLAYOFFS: Not feeling so bullish about the Bulls

When Carlos Boozer left Utah to sign a fat free-agent deal with the Bulls this past July, his arrival was met with abundant joy and elation. Given that the 6-foot-9, 266-pound Boozer is an 8-year veteran with All-Star credentials, all the hoopla was well-deserved.

As the new Bull on the block, Boozer quickly endeared himself to Chicago's fans. Though playing hurt at times, he still managed to norm 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per in 59 regular season games. He also shot 51 percent from the field and 70 percent from the free throw stripe.

With presumptive MVP Derrick Rose leading the way, the rampaging Bulls snatched the NBA's best record overall -- 62-20 -- and were rewarded with homecourt advantage throughout the 2011 playoffs.

And that's where this easy, breezy, feel-good story sputters. Because when the Bulls began what they had hoped to be a deep post-season run, Boozer didn't seem to tag along. Sure, Chicago dispatched the pesky 8th-seeded Indiana Pacers, but Boozer's abysmal showing provided an alarming concern going forward.

Boozer struggled mightily in five games against the Pacers. He made only 19 of 53 field goals for a meager 35.8 percent clip. He snatched 10.2 rebounds a contest, but his foul troubles, lack of scoring (10 ppg) and seeming inability to play defense has incited vitriol on talk radio, the internet, as well as other avenues where dejected fans go to redress their hoops grievances.

When Boozer inked that 5-year contract worth $80 million last summer, it then seemed like a wonder. Right now, though, it appears more like an expensive blunder.

From hero to zero.

BEAUTY OF A ROSE. Look, the Bulls are a talented lot. They have Rose, who can do anything but climb a cactus. The 6-foot 2, 190-pound sparkplug can score at will, averaging 27.6 points thus far in these playoffs. He hits big shots, most of which are in the twisting, gravity-defying variety.

And the scariest part is that this kid Rose is only 23 years young.

The Bulls have 7-foot Joakim Noah, who can rebound (10.6 rpg), score (12 ppg), pass some (1.8 assists pg) and block a lot (2.6 pg). Noah can also annoy the hell out of opposing big men, and on most nights, the wiry 232-pounder provides more energy than your local power company.

The Bulls have 6-foot-9 veteran Luol Deng, whose jumpshot is smooth as butter. The Bulls also have Kyle Korver, who brings an insatiable appetite for making timely 3-point baskets. And yes, the Bulls bench is deep enough to bury any team, East or West, on any given night.

Throw in Coach of the Year candidate Tom Thibodeau on that pile and you'll find a complete team.

Well, almost. Because there is a glaring vacancy at the power forward position that needs to be filled. Right about now.

Without the 30-year old Boozer, the Bulls could still get by either the offense-challenged Orlando Magic or the free-wheeling Atlanta Hawks in the second round. But make no mistake, they need Boozer against the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat in the East Conference Finals.

That's because the Celtics parade a hybrid power forward in Kevin Garnett and that the Heat have bigs such as Chris Bosh and some guy named LeBron James. You don't have to have a PhD to figure that one out.

Bulls fans are happy to see their team advance to the second round of these playoffs. But with Boozer currently unable to find his way, can you blame them if they don't feel so giddy as the Heat or Celtics series looms?

NOT DEAD YET. Having met and interviewed him a few times, I've always liked Tim Duncan as a person and the San Antonio Spurs as a whole. They are a classy bunch, who captured four NBA titles (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007) through unselfish team play and minus the requisite bragging that lesser champions love to flaunt.

But like the other great ones before them, the Spurs have been ravaged by both time and too many playoff wars. In their ongoing series against the 8th seeded Grizzlies from Memphis, the Spurs look old, and tired. But not beaten just yet.

Thanks to a miracle 3-pointer by Gary Neal with 1.7 seconds left in regulation, the No1-seeded Spurs beat Memphis in Game 5 overtime, 110-103, yesterday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

The Spurs still trail the best-of-7 series 3-2, with Game 6 in Memphis. Duncan and his friends certainly aren't out of the woods, but like my fellow Spurs faithfuls, I haven't lost hope. (Homer D. Sayson)


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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