Del Negro, Like His Bulls, Improving
-- You've got to say, Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro has done a nice job in his first year. And it bears repeating: First year as a coach on any level.
If you watched the Bulls earlier this season, and caught Del Negro on the sidelines, you saw someone wound up on nearly every possession. There was a lot of throwing up of the hands and shaking of the head with him. It was easy to see his displeasure with the team at times.
Looked like he wanted to pull out his hair at different times, and if you've seen Del Negro's hair you know he doesn't want to do that.
Del Negro seems to be stepping back a little bit, and how can you argue with the way he's coaching rookie point guard Derrick Rose?
Give Del Negro credit for bringing in Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff to help on the bench. That's a lot of experience, and good for Del Negro to recognize he'd likely need it.
The only downside to a first-round series victory over the Celtics would be that it would set the bar awfully high for next season.
-- A couple of sportswriters familiar with the NBA, Gordie Jones and Gary Washburn, both came up with the same Ben Gordon comparison, and I've got to say they're right on the money.
Ben Gordon, 2009 equals Andrew Toney, mid-1980s. For those who might not remember, Toney was known as the Boston Stranger because he consistently had big games against the great Celtics teams of that decade.
Toney, with a deadly jumper and lightning-quick first step, gave fits to both Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge. Which is exactly what Gordon is doing to Boston's backcourt at present.
Gordon, though, is a little bit more of a coming-off-screens player than Toney was. Toney was at his best when he had you one-on-one on the wing. He was either going to go by you or stick that jumper of his right in your face, putting it right out in front of a defender and daring him to block it.
Never could. Toney was too quick and/or too strong.
-- No doubt, the NBA has had a wonderful start to the postseason. But it could be better.
To our way of thinking, the playoffs would be better if more stars were healthy. There's just no getting around the fact that Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Manu Ginobili, Mehmet Okur, Jameer Nelson, Elton Brand, Allen Iverson (technically, it's an injury) and Luol Deng aren't playing.
That's the price you pay for an 82-game schedule, however, particularly when it's on the back end of an offseason of international competition. File this under the "It-ain't-never-gonna-happen" category, but if the NBA would ever winnow down the schedule to 60 games, there is no doubt the product would improve.