Adjustments the Chicago Bulls should make

The Chicago Bulls failed to win against Atlanta in game one, and what's perhaps most disconcerting is that they lost the game in the fourth quarter where they've typically owned opponents.   After rolling around the results of game one in my head I came up with the following things which need to change for the Bulls to win game two.

Defend the early offense better

The Hawks dominated the Bulls in early offense in transition or in pseudo-transition plays.   The primary problem is that while the Bulls frequently had someone back defensively, that person wasn't stopping the ball on the perimeter but was setting up around the charge line.  

The athletic Hawks players easily scored from this position.   In an ideal world, the Bulls would have more players back at all times to make a play in transition, but they need someone to pick up the ball handler closer to the three point line so that he's not going with a full head of steam at the basket with a stationary player there. 

One of the primary ways the Bulls can slow down the Hawks offense is to force them into a half court game where their decision making and shot selection are frequently questionable.

Derrick Rose needs to step up his game

The Hawks spent most of the night single covering Rose with Jeff Teague, and Derrick simply didn't do a whole lot with that situation.  Unless Jeff Teague has some preternatural defensive ability we haven't seen yet, this indicates that Rose either had a horrific game, or Derrick's ankle is cause for considerable concern.

I'm betting on the ankle.   Rose simply wasn't slashing to the hoop like he has in the past and settled for a lot of mid range and long jumpers which weren't falling for him.   Teague played Rose like it was his rookie season, sagging up to 6 feet off of him when Rose was behind the three point line.

If Rose just shoots that three in Teague's face and buries a few of them, the entire Atlanta defensive scheme will fall apart on Rose.  However, Rose shot plenty of threes last game and simply didn't bury them.  

If Rose allows the defense to treat him like he's Rajon Rondo shooting the ball without punishing them from the outside it's going to be a long series for Chicago.

Get Luol Deng some more touches

The man was 8/12 last night, why did he only shoot the ball 12 times?   Luol found his way into the paint with regularity and drew fouls and made close shots.   The Bulls need to make sure he's getting plenty of looks when he's playing that hot.  

Joe Johnson spent a good amount of time playing SF, and when he defends Deng, we need Deng actively involved to help wear Johnson out on the defensive end.

Fight a little harder on the glass

The teams were basically neutral on the boards last night.   The Atlanta Hawks are a decent defensive rebounding team, but they're one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the NBA.   There Bulls are the best rebounding team in the league.  

To come up neutral there, especially when the Bulls missed so many shots, it simply an unacceptable performance from the Bulls big men. 

Wait for the shots to stop falling

Sounds like an excuse, but Joe Johnson's not scoring 34 on 66% shooting from the field and 100% shooting from the three point line again.   The Hawks will cool off.  The theory has been put out there that Atlanta shot well against Orlando, but that's really not all that accurate.

Outside of Jamal Crawford and Kirk Hinrich (not playing) they didn't shoot well from the outside against Orlando, and while Crawford was a very good 46%, Joe Johnson only hit 33% of his threes.

The shots won't fall forever.


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  • Hawks will Cool Off but Will Bulls Get Hot

    Doug, you're right. The Hawks outside shooting will cool off.

    But will the Bulls get hot? Coach Thibodeaux and Rose have been great this year. But the Bulls still seem soft in the inside/outside game.

    I don't want this to be a Carlos Boozer diatribe. I don't know if he's hurt, ill, whatever. I just know he's not the inside force we had hoped for during the off season.

    I believe Coach Thibodeaux and Derrick Rose are finding their COY and MVP awards bittersweet today after last night's loss against Atlanta.

    Here's hoping Carlos Boozer works his way out of his torpor, or injury, or whatever it is.

  • The Bulls can't simply rely on Atlanta cooling off. They've shot well all post-season. I feel they did defense somewhat well, but if the Hawks continue to knock down threes they have to make adjustments, and not hope for Atlanta to miss.

  • In reply to KPowell:

    The Hawks hit over half their threes and many of them were well contested. You can't stop a team that knocks down 50% of their well contested threes. You just can't. Especially when a guy who's 5/5 was under 30% on the season.

    Joe Johnson played possibly his best game of the year last night.

    If the Hawks win again, it's likely because the Bulls overadjusted on Johnson and allow Horford to beat them.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I'm just saying that if Atlanta continues to make as many threes as they did, of course you have to make adjustments.

    You can't continue to play the same defense if they come out firing in the next game.

    Do I think they will cool off? Yes, but you just can't cross your fingers and hope they miss.

  • In reply to KPowell:

    The Bulls contested a lot of the threes pretty strongly. If they try and contest them even more strongly, they'll likely give up craploads of points in the paint.

    It's a more sound strategy to wait for them to cool off than to overcommit on streaky shooters and leave guys to score in the interior.

  • In reply to KPowell:

    DRose has no swelling in ankle, participated in whole practice. :Per KCJohnson twitter. At least there is some good news to report.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    According to me, here are the adjustements bulls have got to make :

    1. Like Doog said, Rose has to be more aggressive. It's abnormal to see him not attempting any free throws.

    2. They have to double-team Joe Johnson and Crawford but most of all Johnson. Monday game, Bogans started to defend him but he couldn't then luol deng went on him but neither him could.
    Sending two defenders to Joe won't hurt us because they don't have others great options than him.

    3. Thibs should stop putting the whole second unit on the floor when the fourth quarter is about to start. It's too risky. Last game, the whole bench was on the court whereas Joe johnson and crawford were also on. Do you see the imbalance ? Then Thibs put back Rose when bulls were trailing by 8. Apparently it was too late.

    4. Bulls shouldn't stop the "see red" campaign. You might find me funny but it has something to do with that loss. The crowd was dead monday game. People are on fire when they wears those red t-shirts !! It puts a lot of pressure on the opponents.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Maybe the growing list of nagging injuries is having a negative impact. The Bulls have really only been sharp once out of the last 6 playoff games.

    There hasn

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    @Doug: if you "just can't stop" a team shooting that well, then a great defense will have to make SOME adjustment to their playmaking. You can't just wait for them to come back to their statistical performances, they might not do that for another round or two, where does that leave US? Really, if they're gonna shoot worse, it won't be JUST luck, our D will be somewhat at cause. So what CAN we do to slow down Johnson and Crawford? We saw these hot streaks and difficult matchups coming a week ago; Crawford's been hot for a month now... any ideas, anyone? I don't like just waiting for them to shoot poorly, that seems too passive for championship contenders.

    Best thing to hope for: that Thibs and this team are fast learners. They're finding out quickly how different it is in the post-season, and why talented newcomers to the playoffs usually lose to grizzled veterans... better get cracking with the lessons! They've bounced back from losses before, and will really need to do that again here! Since The Ankle shows they can't count on the MVP to make up for poor performances by others on the team... to put it simply, we have to make our make-able shots at a high rate, especially early in the games; and we've done that one game in six in these playoffs so far - after the last loss, as it happened... AND great defense! Um, it's been a long fun season, now we all gotta work on our Bricking! Put down that beer and concentrate when you see their eyes!

  • In reply to petert23:

    I'm not suggesting that our defense just 'luck' out. I'm suggesting greater urgency to get back on defense to stop early offense and transition which allowed the HAwks a lot of easy hoops and then saying not to overcommit to try and stop the difficult hoops they scored because they probably won't score them again.

    In other words, gear your defense towards stopping everything easy, the Bulls gave up a lot of easy early offense shots.

    Teams are going to score in this league, so if you force a hard shot you've done your job, and the Bulls forced hard shots most of the time Atlanta was in half court.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Thanks for more detail. I hope you're right, they can't keep hitting those hand-in-face buzzer beaters all series, can they? But they did hit a lot of others too... we just gotta work WAY harder than we have so far!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Although we've been trying to explain why the bulls lost, there's still something weird.
    Bulls hardly ever (if not ever) collapse on the 4th quarter most of all when they are at home. Bulls have been a 4th quarter team all the season, they always find a way to close games. The only way to beat bulls has been to take a large lead before the 4th !

    But yesterday, it didn't go that way. I still don't get it. When I saw only 1pt lead for ATL at the end of the 3rd, i said to myself there's no way we're loosing this game. But we lost !!

    My point is bulls must now take a lead before the 4th instead of coming back. It won't work against Boston or Miami. Anyway i am confident Thibs will make adjustments next game ! let'S go bulls !!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    The Bulls offense, as it was often in the second half of the season, for the most part was ugly against Indiana. They would be the lowest ranked offense but Detroit's to move on to the Finals in the last decade. Most of the key players shot in the 30's percentage wise for the series disregarding the last game where they finally had a solid game. Even in that game, I honestly thought after the opening doubles were thwarted the Pacers fight/intensity was not the same as previous games though they had the game within reach twice until Derrick made a couple of spectacular plays/bursts.

    Is it really "stunning" to me that the Bulls dropped Game 1 to Atlanta? Not at all. Boozer unless he starts putting up some 17-18 point games is not the scoring big we thought we acquired for the playoffs down low. Jo post injuries while playing solid is still not back to November Jo what 9 points 11 boards? And Derrick now is possibly seriously hampered with his ankle? I still think the Bulls can win this series, but K.C. saying he's "stunned" the Bulls lost Game 1 is either phony or denying that this has not been the same team we saw in the regular season in these playoffs.

  • In reply to petert23:

    DRose has grade II ankle sprain from MRI. :Per David Kaplan CSN Chicago. I'll see your good news and raise you bad news.

  • In reply to whonka:

    Oh well... thats one report against the other, good luck Bulls in game 2, they will need it.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Me too, i think the bulls contested Joe johnson and Crawford's shots very well. But it didn't prevent them to knock them down. What make you think that they will coul off ?

    I know you were right when you told me that Tyler hansbrought wouldn't be that good the rest of the serie. But in this case, let me tell you that Joe johnson has been playing very well since the playoffs started. It is precisely one the reason Hawks beat
    In my opinion, bulls should rather double-team him during all the serie.(Read my post below).

  • In reply to KPowell:

    Do we think if Rose doesn't drive much to penetrate the paint, the Bulls have a chance? The reality is Rose's ankle will not be right and he was talking about icing/taking rest today and tomorrow. Will his passing/shooting rhythm be right?
    I think the Bulls have to plan for a line-up which can have more transition and 3pt shooting defense if Rose keeps chucking up 3 pointers or jump-shots i.e. use Noah, Brewer a lot more.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Interesting note: Derrick is averaging the most amount of 3 point attempts per game in the playoffs in the entire league (7.3) despite the fact that he has the worst 3 point percentage (22.7%) of anyone that takes at least 3 attempts a game in the playoffs.

    He takes a bunch at the end of quarters, he may be compensating for the ankle, and the offense lacks other offensive threats...but he still probably shouldn't be shooting more 3's than Durant and Allen.

  • In reply to DanOClock:

    It is not just the end of the quarter heaves. Sometimes, he looks around to drive and waits to pass and gives it off to Deng or somebody else with 3/5 sec remaining on the shot clock. It is good he takes the 3pointers to keep the defense honest but as Doug wrote his ankle is impacting him on when/what 3 pointers he takes. That is the passive Rose on offense.
    Off-course, there is the defense where he is let Collison, Teague get into the paint easily and then make good decisions for the other team.

  • In reply to DanOClock:

    Adjustments the Fans at the United Center Can Make:

    Stop at a local bar near the UC, and take a couple of damn shot will ya! I know you guys might be a little afraid of the neighborhood, but this is ridiculous already. This is the damn conference semis. Get a few drinks in you, loosen up, and get off your damn hands.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Doesn't look like we are going to destroy Atlanta as many "experts" suggested. The Bulls are good, but not a dominant team. They are short by one offensive guy. That's clear. IF the Bulls win this series, it will be in 7 games.

  • In reply to supercesto:

    last night didn't surprise me one bit, but I actually think now they take the next 4 straight to win in 5.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Amazingly, Scoop Jackson on First Take had predicted yesterday that the Bulls will win in 5 but will lose the first game(I don't think anybody else predicted the Bulls will lose the first home game). Will be interesting to see how much his prediction will stand true..

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I don't have the data, but I suspect that teams that have the longest layoffs in the playoffs, usually suffer in the first game back.

    Hopefully, that is all that yesterday was, rust from the 6 day layoff.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I would like to hope so but let's be realistic. ATL win will at least one game in atlanta.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    I don't think they will, and it will be at least 50/50 full of Bulls fans, the good ones too, you know the kind that cheer on their team not just after a great play.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    i also think the bulls contested Joe johnson and Crawford's shots very well. But it didn't prevent them to knock them down. Doug, what make you think that they will coul off ?

    I know you were right when you told me that Tyler hansbrought wouldn't be that good the rest of the serie. But in this case, let me tell you that Joe johnson has been playing very well since the playoffs started. It is precisely one the reason Hawks beat
    In my opinion, bulls should rather double-team him during all the serie.(look my post above)

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Joe Johnson shot 33% from the three point line and 40% from the field against Orlando.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    OMG i read everywhere that he was the man of that serie. ok then let's hope he will back to his real FG% before it gets worse for us !

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Lets hope Joe isn't out to show the Bulls up and getting help from Crawford who is capable of scoring big numbers upsetting the Bulls in the second round. If Memphis can do it, ATL certainly can. Some respect needs to be showed to the Hawks cause they have scorers that can get it done while the Bulls have a now injured Rose and a bunch of inconsistent question marks.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    exactly ! bulls overlooked hawks. they thought it would be easy. that's why they started the game without any agressiveness. it's a little bit stupid since they know how the pacers upset them whereas it was supposed to be easy.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Those stats can be a little bit misleading. He probably would have shot terribly in the 2 games they lost. We all know in a good series, most teams will lose 2 games or sometimes 3. I would be curious to see what his percentage in the wins was? That's what matters against the Bulls too. What if he shoots 20% in the 2nd game and they lose. As long as he shoots a very high percentage in 4/5 games, that's what matters.

  • In reply to supercesto:

    are you joking ?? 7 ? the bulls will take one game in ATL and finish the serie in 6 ! But I aknowledge that bulls overlooked their opponents.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    no, completely serious, game 1 should be a wake up, seems like Crawfor & JJ never missed

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    agree about the passing/shoutinh rythm. Even if Rose attempted 26 shoots, I think he passed too more or i should rather say he didn't score when he should have (3rd quarter).

    Forget about a new starting line-up. It's too late to make changes. Most of all don't put korver in the lineup, he defends so bad on JJ and crawford.

  • In reply to KPowell:

    I havent said this in a very long time, but.... I really wouldnt mind seeing a somewhat heavy diet of Boozer next game. He actually looked more like the Boozer of old most of the game. His confidence looks to be coming back and he even had the one emphatic slam over Smith. When he didnt score he at least drew a double team. We need that post presence as well as D Rose's aggressiveness to open up the floor.

    And the help defense needs to be much better as well. I understand JJ and Crawford made some great shots last night, but there were absolutely way too many lay-ups allowed.

    If we are the aggressor next game (on both ends) we win hands down.

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    Maybe Thibs should do what got us here. Boozer with Thomas and Noah with Gibson.
    For Boozer to go off you need a center whose shot has to be respected. Otherwise he' always meeting a second taller defender at the basket.

  • In reply to Waldock:

    So according to you Thomas has a respectable shot ? None of our big men have a good shot beyond Boozer. Noah is a driver. Gibson sucks when it comes to shoot. Thomas always takes 30 minutes to shoot. lol

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    I agree about the Boozer part. In the 3rd quarter he started to heat up and get some confidence back. Then when ATL double teamed him, he made a great pass to Noah for the dunk. This is the Boozer we need to see. He needs to stop taking so many jump shots and work his way into the paint.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    When boozer passed the ball to noah for a dunk, it's was one the rare time we saw our center capitalize on a boozer's double-team. We were supposed to see it a lot of time this year ! I liked it !

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    This was the first playoff game that I didn't cringe during 100% of Boozer's minutes. Of course he had his Carlos being Carlos moments (giving up on D to grab the rebound, not hustling to get low post position, missing rotations, etc.), but he demanded a double team and finished successfully.

    If he can continue to do that, I'll be happy.

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    Good article, agree that Atlanta won't have another shooting night like Monday. I'm more concerned of Rose's ankle/aggressiveness. If Rose knows he wont be able to drive and finish he has to become a distributor rather than a scoring point guard. Mark my words, Boozer will carry us through this series if Rose can't produce on the offensive end, and I hope the team adjusts to get Boozer more touches and become more of a pick and roll/pop team. Sorta like Williams and Boozer. I was watching some playoff Jazz games back when they made that Conference Final run, and Boozer carried the Jazz much like Rose carried us this season. People forget Boozer can put a team on his back as well and go for 25-35 points in the playoffs. I saw signs of life yesterday from him, and I have always supported Boozer all year, I hope he returns my trust this Atlanta series.

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    I don't recall Boozer doing anything when we dumped the ball into him. The only plays boozer seemed to finish well were ones where he freed himself under the hoop.

    You should always get hit him in that situation, but it's not easy to create that situation.

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    I kinda agree, I thought Boozer had a pretty decent game overall. It seemed like he was finally determined to finish strong at the basket for the most part and the few pick and rolls where Rose got him the ball heading towards the basket he looked like the guy we were hoping to see when we signed him. Plus, he did have at least one pretty sweet back-to-the-basket post move, a nice spin move for an easy lay in. Don't recall who he was up against, but I suspect it wasn't Horford. Figures...Boozer finally starts to get a little bit untracked and we lose!

  • In reply to KPowell:

    I was at the game last night so you dont always get to see the replays or hear what the announcers/analysts are saying. But did everyone else feel like we were getting screwed by the refs again? We had 3 or 4 really touch fouls (maybe even phantom calls) and we couldnt buy a call on a couple occasions. Let to an extremely rare Thibs tech foul and another one later from Noah.

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    I thought we were getting screwed by the fans, and the players to start the game.

  • Game 5 Bulls, from the Pacers series need to come out tomorrow night. Plan and simple.

  • Check out Mark Potash's column, great perspective and stats to back it up.

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