Jake’s take: the dishes are done

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ABC’s Sunday Showcase featured two blowouts as the Thunder treated the Rose-less Bulls like the Bobcats, and the Celtics manhandled the Heat while Ray Allen watched with an ankle injury. 

Derrick Rose sat for the 10th straight game, but Chicago entered the contest with a very respectable 14-5 record without the reigning MVP’s services. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant put an end to any thoughts on improving that record. The two combined for 53 points despite sitting the entire fourth quarter. 

Fresh off a recent victory against Miami, the Thunder showed why many believe they are the team to beat as they consistently created easy points in transition and relentlessly drained difficult shots in the half-court. Bulls defenders could do little more than shake their heads after Durant and Westbrook routinely made difficult shots look easy.

Skeptics point to the Thunder’s lack of true point guard play as a reason to doubt them come playoff time. These concerns are valid as Russell Westbrook played shooting guard in college and only averages about five assists a game.

The other side of this argument points to James Harden and to a lesser extent Kevin Durant, who are both capable of handling the ball and creating scoring opportunities for others. On a less talented team, having a point guard like Westbrook might be more of an issue. 

As for the Bulls, their shot distribution hasn’t changed much with the loss of Rose. Point guards C.J Watson and John Lucas combined for 27 shots against the Thunder and their offense continues to lack players who can consistently create their own shot, aside from Rose. 

Teams like the Thunder and Heat who can rely on three players to create their own shot, hold a distinct advantage over the Bulls who need Rose to compete. Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng are knockdown shooters, but the offense rarely runs through them. The Bulls may be one scorer away from matching up with the Thunder and Heat. 

Much like the first game, the Celtics put the Heat away early as they led 80-56 entering the fourth quarter. On the back of Rajon Rondo’s triple-double – 16 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds – the Celtics made the Heat’s usually stingy defense look rather ordinary. Pierce and Rondo consistently beat their players off the dribble and, more often than not, the help defense didn’t come. 

There aren’t circumstances where losing the game’s greatest three point marksmen is a good thing, but that’s exactly the case for the Celtics. The emergence of Avery Bradley will be key for a Celtics bench in desperate need of contributors outside of Greg Stiemsma. 

In the four games preceding Sunday’s matchup, Bradley averaged 15 points on 54 percent shooting with less than a turnover a game. He continued his strong play against the Heat, contributing 13 points, two steals and a block. 

Bradley’s athletic skillset gives the Celtics a player who can create easy baskets outside of their methodical half-court offense. The ability to score without any plays drawn up for you is a valuable commodity. Once the sharpshooter returns it, it would make sense for Bradley to play the majority of the 30 minutes left behind Rondo and Allen at the guard spots. 

LeBron James didn’t record an assist for the first time since Feb. 26, 2009 and the Heat lacked intensity throughout the game. Kevin Garnett dwarfed Chris Bosh who finished 2-11 from the field with four points. 

If the Heat are playing their A-game, it’s hard to imagine them losing a series. The problem is they haven’t played their A-game very often in recent games.