Its time to start focusing on the playoffs and our potential roadblocks to Banner 18. Every day we'll bring you what's making news in enemy territory. This way we know what they're up to when it comes time to take 'em out.
ESPN Chicago: Carlos Boozer will play Monday against theSacramento Kings, barring a setback, after missing five games because of a sprained left ankle. "If there aren't any problems before the game tonight, he'll go," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He was fine today."
ESPN Chicago: The Bulls have learned to play without Boozer, but if Rose wears down, or heaven forbid goes down, it's all over. Rose has received a lot of praise for improving his jump shot, and he is legitimately dangerous from 3-point range now. But in the last month and a half, he's shooting around 25 percent, lowering his season percentage to 32.8.
Sentinel: Arenas, who seems baffled by his knee troubles, has come up with a number of hypotheses for his injuries, including the weather. Now, he has a new one — too much sitting down. “I sit so much; it’s all I do,” Arenas said. “I do a lot of sitting. I hang out around the house just sitting. … So, the days I don’t really stretch it, and then I start running on it, it just kills back here.”
Sentinel: J.J. Redick, battling a strained lower abdomen, will miss his sixth consecutive game tonight in Cleveland. How have the Magic fared in his absence? They have gone 3-2, but his injury has had a trickle-down effect.
Hot Hot Hoops: Mario Chalmers was present at Sunday’s Miami Heat Family Festival after an MRI revealed only a sprained right knee, a relief for a team desperate to get fully healthy in time for the playoffs with Udonis Haslem nearing his return. Heat officials at the event confirmed to me that he should be out an estimated two weeks, a period of around six games (the Heat have just twelve games left in the regular season).
Heat Index: If you read the signs from Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, Mike Bibby was not far away from taking over the starting point guard role ahead of the playoffs. But now with Mario Chalmers sidelined for up to two weeks, the switch has arrived sooner than expected.
ESPN NY: Tonight the Celtics return to MSG, but the headline matchup won't be between two of the league's best power forwards: Kevin Garnett and Amare Stoudemire. It will be between Kevin Garnett and Spike Lee.
Posting and Toasting: Today's defeat was sort of a caricature of the way the Knicks have been losing. New York didn't just come out flat against a bad team; they farted out one of the most uniformly awful first quarters we've ever seen. After that, they didn't just make a run; they cut the deficit to just one and made it a close game for the entire second half. (Is that how you use semicolons? I have no idea how to use semicolons). It was another one of those outings in which twelve minutes of horrid basketball eclipsed over thirty minutes of semi-decent play. Like robk said, we'd probably all benefit from never speaking of that first quarter again.
Forum Blue And Gold: This wasn’t a pretty game. Far from it, actually. But the Lakers battled, kept the game close, and made the plays down the stretch to beat the Blazers 84-80. The win clinched the Pacific Division and served as a reminder that the guys with the old legs still have some left in the tank. And really, that was the big take away from this game – the Lakers, for all their poor shooting and all the possessions that they came up empty, just kept fighting. They played through contact, kept their composure (for the most part), and found a way to keep the game close so their veteran players could make the plays – plays that they’ve made so many times before – on this night too.
OC Register: Andrew Bynum's two-game suspension wasn't a popular subject around the Lakers locker room before Sunday's game. Phil Jackson didn't comment fully on the situation, but pointed out that Minnesota's Michael Beasley didn't have to sit out after taking the brunt of Bynum's hit in Friday's game. Bynum knocked Beasley to the floor as the Timberwolves forward attempted a layup in the fourth quarter.
Project Spurs: When it comes to fan loyalty, none do it better than San Antonio Spurs fans. Painted silver and black faces, and constantly chanting "Go Spurs Go." Yes Spurs fans are the best and according to Brand Keys Sports Loyalty Index, the Spurs are ranked number one in fan loyalty in the NBA.
My SA Spurs Nation: Steve Novak has been with the Spurs for a little more than a month. It didn’t take him long to uncover the secret of the team’s offense. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili sharing the ball.
NewsOK: Perkins is on record of not being a member of the Jackson fan club. An ESPN reporter recently quoted Perkins as saying the coach is arrogant. And Perkins didn't hesitate to dismiss Jackson's latest comments.“I don't listen to Phil anyway,” Perkins said. “Everything he says ain't what's right. At the end of the day, I learned a lot where I came from. I'm just trying to install it here and just keep pushing.”
Daily Thunder: Well, now we know which late-season game people can point to if a single loss costs Oklahoma City a better playoff seed. I guess the bright side is that the Thunder would probably prefer the No. 5 seed Nuggets over the No. 6 seed Trail Blazers in the first round, assuming those teams stay in those spots and OKC stays at No. 4. Oklahoma City dropped its first game since March 7 on Sunday with a 95-93 loss at home to the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors snapped a 14-game road losing streak and swept the season series against the Thunder in the process.
ESPN Dallas: The linchpin to Dallas Mavericks postseason success is — sorry, Mr. Beaubois — 7-foot-1 center Tyson Chandler. The Mavs know it. "He's the key to our success, you know that," guard Jason Terry said. "He's been that way all season long. When he's playing at a high level, when his energy is up, it's hard to beat us
ESPN Dallas: The last time the NBA had a lockout that resulted in a shortened season, Dallas Mavericksforward Dirk Nowitzki was a rookie during that in 1998-99 campaign. He was drafted in June but remained in Germany to play with his pro team. If labor strife produces an expected lockout and possibly eats into next season, Nowitzki reiterated Sunday night his desire to return to the German national team as it attempts to qualify this summer for the 2012 Olympics in London.