Czar’s End of Year Awards


Czar’s End of Year Awards: Coach of the Year

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Gameday Dish: Bulls vs. Knicks

New York City is the unofficial capitol of the basketball world and Madison Square Garden in the heart of Midtown Manhattan is the hoops-headquarters. Tonight ‘the most famous arena in the world’ will be on fire for a highly charged matchup featuring two teams that are on the upswing and hoping to return to their glory days.

The Chicago Bulls are hands-down the hottest team in the NBA right now. And they come to New York with a chance to finish the 2010-2011 NBA season with the best record in the entire 30-team league. First-year coach Tom Thibodeau has already led the Bulls to the top seed in the Eastern Conference at 60-20 with two games remaining on the schedule.

After finishing 41-41 last year and losing in the first round to the then LeBron-led Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1, this team has demonstrated dramatic improvement through defense and a general group maturation. Throw in veteran PF / first-year Chicagoan Carlos Boozer, a deep and reliable bench, and a soon-to-be-named youngest-ever league MVP at the 1-guard, and you have the makings of a team capable of winning title number 7 for the Chicago-land faithful. Title 6 came 13 years ago in 1998, completing the Jordan Bulls second three-peat.

The Rose Bulls are currently on a seven game winning streak and have won 19 of their previous 21 contests. They are second in the league in team defense, allowing a lock-down 91.3 points against. And when third-year, do-everything PG Derrick Rose and teammates win, they usually do it rather convincingly as they lead the league in point-differential at +7.3.

The Knickerbockers of New York at 42-38 occupy the East’s sixth seed heading into a first round playoff series with their Atlantic Division rival Boston Celtics. On their own 7-game consecutive victorious run, coach Mike D’Antoni has the new-look-Carmelo-finally-in-Gotham Knicks playing winning, up-tempo basketball. They have a dynamic offense led by the eighth-year 6’8” F Anthony’s 25.6 ppg (3rd in the NBA) and ninth-year 6’10” C/F Amaré Stoudemire’s 25.4 ppg (5th in the NBA). The Knicks rank second in the NBA in team offense at 106.8 ppg and appear to be gelling after some transitional difficulties post-Melo acquisition from Denver in mid-February.

After finishing last season at 29-53, the guys in the Blue, Orange and Black have America’s biggest town buzzing for the first time in nearly a decade. In fact, the Knicks will finish with a winning record for the first time since the 2000-2001 season. And this postseason will mark their first visit to the playoffs since a 39-43 Knick team got swept in the 2004 first round by their Hudson River rivals, the New Jersey Nets.

Tonight the MSG boys will attempt to complete a season series sweep of the Big Shoulder boys. Marv and I will be in the booth along with David Aldridge on the sidelines to bring you the Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks at 8:00 PM ET on TNT.

Gameday Dish: Boston Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls

No Kevin Garnett. No Joakim Noah. No name calling. Just two of the Eastern Conference’s top teams, two of the NBA’s premier point guards, a healthy Carlos Boozer and a red hot rookie from Notre Dame. Boston’s 12th man Luke Harangody just came off the best game of his paid basketball career, finishing with a career high 17 points and 11 rebounds in Boston’s 122-102 win over Toronto last night.

Tonight at the United Center the Chicago Bulls will attempt to stop the Boston Celtics for the first time this season. The Celts have bested the boys in red and black twice already this 2010-11 campaign, both times in Beantown. In the Windy City, the Bulls are an impressive 15-3 and tough to beat, just like a local favorite – the Italian Beef sandwich.

However, the upstart Bulls are coming off two consecutive road losses to New Jersey and Philly. They haven’t dropped three straight yet this season, but are only 5-9 against teams above .500. And the C’s posses the NBA’s second best record, an impressive 21 games above the .500 mark. If Chicago hopes to do better than the end of season 41-41 records they’ve compiled the past two years, they’ll have to start taking down the elite teams now and then.

Coach Doc Rivers and the Green enter tonight’s contest on a four-game winning streak, continued last night at home with a blow out of the Toronto Raptors, 122-102.  In fact, other than the Bulls, the top six teams in the Eastern Conference are all on current win streaks of at least 3 games, with the Sunshine State cousins Miami and Orlando both riding 8 gamers.

So a Bulls’ victory tonight would help first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau’s guys keep pace in the suddenly take-no-prisoners East and give him his first W against the team he worked for as an associate head coach and defensive mastermind for the previous three seasons.

Boston leads the NBA in assists and points allowed, a potent, both-ends-of-the-floor combo.  However, Chicago will look to utilize their team rebounding powers (third in the NBA) against a Kendrick Perkins and KG-less Celtic (27th in rebounding) frontline. Boston Celtics @ Chicago Bulls will be televised on NBA TV at 8:00 PM ET.