Derrick Rose our only hope and greatest concern

The Chicago Bulls evened up their series against the Hawks with a win at the United Center, and while they still played fairly poorly, they manage to head down to Atlanta tied up 1 to 1.

Things aren't looking so great though, as it seems more and more evident that the Bulls haven't played their best ball.   Carlos Boozer and Keith Bogans might as well have tread marks tattooed on them for the number of times we've thrown them under the bus.

While they're still both issues, they aren't the real problem.

The real problem is Derrick Rose or more specifically his ankle

Or maybe, I should say, the real problem is Derrick Rose's ankle.   When watching Rose, he looks like the November 09 Rose playing off a bum ankle without as much explosion or burst.   That Rose simply isn't so dangerous, and while Derrick's game has evolved where he can do a ton more damage while limited now, the Bulls aren't going to defeat a good team with him playing at this level.

Is this ankle going to get better?

Now Rose won't admit it's the
ankle, the Bulls won't admit it's the ankle, but it's the ankle.   Two
weeks ago, would Rose have a hard time getting to the rim when his
defender gave him 5 feet of space in front of him?

The space wouldn't give the defender time to recover, it'd give Rose
even more room to build up speed and get around him.    Derrick's a
warrior playing through this thing and not wanting to make any excuses,
but we've seen this drill before. 

The problem is the ankle is unlikely to get any better before the
off-season if we believe the grade two sprain report.  He feels good
enough to play, good enough to walk without a limp, but not good enough
to explode through the paint as he normally would.

Atlanta is preying on Rose's weakness

Now Indiana played Rose with hyper-aggressive traps, daring anyone on the Bulls to beat them outside of Derrick.   Rose didn't rack up a ton of assists due to two pass plays, but he dominated those games despite rather pedestrian shooting numbers.

Atlanta's doing something altogether different.   They're giving Rose all the room in the world on the perimeter and jamming the paint.   The philosophy teams defended Rose with early in his career which has brought up a conundrum.

Should Derrick Rose shoot the open three?   

He's 3/15 in the series which is horrid.   He's taken largely wide open three point shots, but he's not knocking them down.   If Rose could hit some open threes, then Atlanta would be forced to come out and guard him, the lane would open up, and Rose could find his way to the basket to draw some fouls.

However, while he's not hitting them, he encourages this strategy even more.   He's giving up good possessions in the attempts, not scoring points, and leaving the whole team in the paint to defend against him.

Outside of countering this strategy by  making shots, Rose could remove the shot from his game altogether and try to work in higher percentage mid range jumpers.   However, he hasn't been knocking that shot down nearly so well this season after extending his three point range, and there's no guarantee that shot is going to fall for him either, especially since it's a little rusty.

What can we do?   Beat a dead horse

In the playoffs Chicago has played great offense and great defense with Korver on the court.   They've crushed their opponents.   They've played unbelievable defense and terrible offense when he's off the court resulting in their opponents beating the Bulls on average while he's off.

It's largely in the spacing.   Korver was 1-9 last game, but his presence alone opened up plenty of shots for Chicago.   He's the only player outside of Derrick that commands considerable defensive attention, and he does so even while the ball is not in his hands, so he gets the defense moving around when he's on the court which creates openings for other players. 

Carlos Boozer hit a wide open layup at the rim on one possession because both defenders went out to chase Korver on a backscreen set by Boozer.   It was a ridiculous looking play seeing the Hawks give up a wide open shot two feet from the rim because they were scared of Korver potentially getting open beyond the arc.

However, that's the type of thing he does.   He makes the defense move.   He makes the defense account for him, and in doing so, he opens up the floor for everyone else and while Derrick plays on one and a half wheels, Chicago needs that (okay you know I think they need it all the time).

Final thoughts

Derrick's limitations have turned the series against Atlanta into a tightly contested affair.   They're one and one, but the Hawks could have taken game two with the way the Bulls offense played.  

Chicago should feel legitimately threatened in this series the way they're playing right now, and they're not going to turn it around by cranking up the defense more, they're going to hope to squeak by. 

Should Chicago advance, and I think they will, then the real test will come against Miami.   Miami looks incredibly dominant right now, and their games against Boston weren't nearly as close as the box scores.    Chicago has no chance to win that series at all without a considerable improvement in the offense.

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  • So what are our chances against the Heat?

    Not good.

    Not good like one out of a hundred?

    Id say more like one out of a million.

    So you're telling me there's a chance.....Yeah!

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    never gets old.

    "just when I thought you couldn't get any dumber, you go and do somethin like this... and TOTALLY REDEEM YOURSELF!"

  • In reply to wukrza:

    it really never does!

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    QUESTION:

    Based on the title, why don't we call this "Doug's official OVER-REACTION Thread?"

    Breathe people...breathe.

    NBA FINALS:

    I said this awhile ago...

    Mavs vs. Bulls...Bulls in 6.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I said a long time ago the winner of the championship is coming out of the East.

    If Chicago gets past Miami, I think they'll win it all. If not, Miami will win it all.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Derrick's ankle is a concern for sure. He has lost his explosive step. But for the most part, I'm not that concerned. The Bulls always seem to play down/up to their competition and find ways to win.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    The way I'm looking at it, the Bulls are 5-2 in the playoffs, & haven't even come close to playing their best ball. There is no where to go but up, and that's a good thing.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Unless this is the best that they can play in the playoffs, which might well be the case now that everybody else is trying as hard as they have all season.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I don't think its the case at all. There is a huge difference in getting up to play the Hawks in the 2nd round, or Pacers in the first, than playing in the ECF againt the Heat, and playing for a full 48 min

    But it doesn't matter what we think. It reamains to be seen, and we will see when we get there.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    About the ankle, I was hoping Boston & Miami could go 7 so we could get another weeks rest, not looking good right now.

    But I also have to believe Derrick isn't pushing it 100%, and there is also some left there in the reserve tank for when he needs to push it. He's playing on a sprained ankle, he can do that all the time, but when we need it, crunch time or against Miami, you'd have to believe he leaves it all on the court.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    To add: When you are playing the top 8 teams, most games will be tough. Plus, this team mostly has kept the games close and finished in 4th quarter. I think the Heat-Celtics goes atleast 6. The ankle will get better for the next series if he doesn't suffer any setbacks.

    Also, unnoticed is we are not getting any good contributions on offense from CJ, Brewer and even Korver yesterday. If people say Atlanta missed shots and will come back it will be the same with Korver.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Unrelated Topic:

    Why the hell are Boston, Miami, Memphis, & OKC getting 3 full days off b/t games 2 & 3? Our whole series we never get even 2 days off. This could be a good thing though, if we can wrap up our series in 5, maybe Boston can send theirs to 6? I'm praying for that. Give Derrick & Carlos a little more rest.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    *if Bulls go to 7 they would then get 2 days off

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    The 3rd game is the crucial game for the Bulls. If they kill the spirit of the Hawks, it will be easier.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    yep. Atlanta seems like a team than will roll up into the fetal position & die, as opposed to Indiana who fought to the death. Thank you Josh Smith & Marvin Williams!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Rose had 6 full days off already, so if it didn't heal over that time then he won't have time for it to heal before we stop playing.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    well if its a grade 2 sprain like the MRI (not xray) revealed, then it definately takes more than 6 days. Maybe he is a quick healer & it heals before Miami/Boston

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Bad shot selection or bad shooting is almost as bad as a turnover, and for 3 quarters yesterday Rose was a turnover machine.

    He still makes me nervous when working against high pressure defense, especially since we do not appear to have anybody capable of helping him out in those situations. Michael always had Scottie.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    wow, Happy selling the optimism, I like it.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    But isn't this a TOTAL REVERSAL of Bulls will never win a championship without Carmelo?!? I'm just sayin'.

  • In reply to Edward:

    the only problem here is that nothing Mappy says ever really happens....must mean Thunder vs Bulls...Bulls in 6 :-)

  • In reply to Edward:

    People have the right to change their mind, and its good that they do.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    a while ago, was that yesterday.

    the Bulls will not beat the Heat(assuming that they advance), and if the Mavs dispatch the Lakers, they still have to beat OKC.

    more likely it will be Heat over Thunder, but at least the Thunder have a shot at matching the big 2 individually.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Bulls over Thunder in 6

  • I actually think that they are going to have a break out game in ATL Doug and I disagree about Derrick's ankle... Not that he is not limited by it, but I don't think he is as limited as you are fearing him to be. I actually hope he won't have to go all out on it to beat ATL. He knows Miami/Celtics are coming and he knows he will have to go balls out to beat either of those teams, esp. Miami.

    This tight affair with ATL, (last night anyway) was really not tight because D. missed those threes, it was tight because Korver was cold and Booz missed so many easy shots. They hit those shots and ATL still misses what they missed and we would have pulled away.

    I think Derrick has so much confidence in his outside shot because of how many he's probably making in practice, and I know he's probably tossing up even more due to his current slump. I'm confident about game 3.

  • In reply to ChristyOO8:

    the ankle is definitely an issue. you can tell he only really works the right side of the floor with confidence because he can cut aggressively off that side with his right foot. when he's on the other side of the floor, you can see he's tentative and a bit more methodical. even his two patios under the rim weren't explosive moves but more just overpowering his defender. you can tell on his fall at midcourt and turnover when he tried to spin, he couldn't comfortably do it off that ankle and he fell.
    he truly is being a trooper and I think just playing it off, but I believe it is bothering and you can tell in subtle ways. I just think he doesn't want to use it as an excuse for himself or by others.

  • In reply to wukrza:

    layups, not patios. LOL

  • In reply to wukrza:

    Lakers are in big trouble and Spurs are out. Ron Artest got crazy and hit even Lamar Odom in his nuts.
    And Jeff Teague looks like an all-star playing a gimpy Rose. The most important game is Game 3 as I think if the Bulls win, there is a good chance Atlanta will fold a little bit.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I saw that Lamar thing! EJ, Kenny and Charles kept replaying the hit on Barea over and over again, and missed it!

    I know it shouldn't be funny, but I couldn't help but laugh

  • In reply to wukrza:

    Oh agreed, its definitely an issue, but I'd rather he coast in this series (driving wise) and we win some grinders before the ECF. I'd hate to see him aggravate it to hell for ATL and then he's REALLY off/weakened for ECF.

  • In reply to ChristyOO8:

    I agree with Christy. What we have to hope for it that we gut it out against the Hawks and he continues to improve.

    Let's also hope Boston can wake up at home and at least give the Heat a battle here and there.

  • 1. Will Rose's ankle heal with a little time that is before the next series?
    2. Is Rose tired from all the basketball(World Championships, too many minutes playing during games 72-82)?
    3. With all the talk about Rose's shots from outside, I hope he doesn't lose confidence in it. That's what he was talking about in the post-game interviews. He needs to get it up a little bit to keep the defense honest.

    This said, I am not sure if it is the ankle or the emotion of the awards in the last two games. We will know some of the truth in the next game when they are away from home.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    The ankle won't heal before the next series. It will get less painful to weight bear and push off. He's almost certainly got it more rigidly strapped now which could actually be what's throwing his balance off when shooting.

  • In reply to davebursill:

    interesting thought

  • In reply to davebursill:

    all his shots are short, which means his problem is in the legs, could be the ankle, but he has been shooting short for a long while now, are his legs tired, I don't know.

    maybe his body is still not physically mature enough for the rigors of the entire NBA season, and to be a consistent long range shooter.

  • Yes its Rose ankle, I could tell on a drive to the basket going across the lane by Rose that while he still has some lift, he pretty much put too much wrist into the driving tear drop that he attempted to score on and the shot was too long and hit the back of the rim. It's going to be tough in Atlanta, but let's hope the Bulls defensive intensity can save them again from their offensive woes that they are having because of key players injuries. As I said on the last thread, I'm hoping the Bulls can get both games in ATL which I doubt, but if they can be fortunate to win game 3 first and lose game 4 they would be back in the drivers seat. And if the Bulls can make it to the ECF against Miami, they would definitely have to take care of the home court in that series cause that's probably the only thing that would save the Bulls in that series the way the Heat are playing right now. Things are starting to look like Miami will indeed win the championship this year with the Lakers being down 0-2 going back to Dallas. Even tho I still think OKC and Dallas would give the Heat some real problems in a finals series cause I know Dallas swept the season series against the Heat and OKC I believe split with the Heat with each team winning on the others home floor.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    The Celtics and Lakers are growing older right in front of our eyes. The Celtics have the best chance at extending their series against Miami. All they need to do is defend their hone court which I hope they can do. And the Lakers... Kobe says he don't know why everyone is trippin, its just 1 game they have to win and then win the next one. I know it is possible that they can win both, but he's basically saying they will beat the Mavs 3 straight times with game 5 being back in L.A... I hope he knows that the Mavs are still stinging from 2006 losing 4 straight to the Heat after being up 2-0 in the Finals. I don't look for the Mavs to lose 2,3, or 4 straight in this series, so Kobe actually should be trippin along with everyone else.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Boston's playing an extraordinarily athletic Miami team.

    I don't know what LA's excuse is. The Mavs are just as old. Jason Kidd is 5 and a half years older than Kobe and is defending him. Bynum is younger than Chandler, Pau is younger than Dirk, Artest is younger than Marion.

    LA has no age excuse against this team.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Only thing I can think of is the long-term fatigue (mental as well as physical) from 3 consecutive trips to the Finals.

    I remember James Worthy (interview by Chet Coppock) saying that after consecutive Finals he almost couldn

  • In reply to Edward:

    Lot of us predicted that Boston/Lakers are on old legs and the best case for them was to do well was this year. Most of these teams have a lot of talent(maybe at different positions) and the winning teams have their best players who are in their prime or young. Dallas's best players were Nowitzki,Barea and Chandler yesterday(they are not old).
    The other thing scary for the Lakers is no one from the bench or non-star players contributed a little big in these two home games. They will still come back maybe on pride for a few games but they look done.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Dallas is one of the older teams in the NBA. However, they

  • In reply to Edward:

    Doug, I'm arguing with some fellow Bulls fans about a possible trade for Dwight Howard. In my opinion, if the Bulls can land Dwight Howard, I would trade ANYONE on the roster besides Rose. Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah for Howard, Bass and Turkoglu is a STEEEP price, but if you can pair Rose with Howard, you gotta make the trade, right?

  • In reply to sukid09:

    I hope that they are arguing that right now is the most ridiculous time to be talking about trades.

    Go Bulls! Take Game 3 and ATL can suckit09...

  • In reply to sukid09:

    At last Doug is criticizing his 3pts shots ! I was wondering, I am the only one to think that his 3pts shots are killing the offense ?
    I've been talking about that thing since the mid-season. Rose is exagerating with 3pts.

    He's 21.2% from downtown (the worst in the nba this post-season) and averaging 7.4 attemps per game (the most in the nba this post-season): that's called bad shots selection.

    He should take it only when he is open !! e.g yesterday we could have won by 20 if it wasnt his bad shots selection from downtown. There were several times where we could have gotten a simple 2pts but rose forced a 3pts instead. Serious he has to stop it.

    For me that's the real issue(given he is a driver). not his ankle. and the other one is boozer's production. It's sad to see him booed by the UC but he deserves it ! He really sucks since the beginning of Playoffs.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    As I've watched the playoffs, it reminds me exactly how hard it is to win. Essentialy you win 4 or 5 possessions a game and win by 8 or so. Even the dominant 90's Bulls teams didn't blow people out regularly and even lost some games on the way to the titles.

    Does anyone here really think the Hawks can beat the Bulls 4 out of 7? I don't. They're far too undisciplined and while Miami generally is too, Atlanta doesn't have that talent or experience. I'll be surprised if we don't win this thing in 6 or less.

    As for Miami, I'll have to see them win a game in Boston before I believe in them. I know Boston can win in Miami, although I'm a little more skeptical after game 2. They can't have Rondo lead them in scoring and expect to win.

    Patience, people. It's not as dire as it seems.

  • In reply to rifle13:

    I know hawks can't beat us. But his bad shots selection could cost us a game against miami and boston. We need a better boozer and a smart rose in order of reaching the nba finals.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Yeah, I know - I yell at the TV every time DRose launches a 3 early in the shot clock. You can get that shot anytime. Boozer is at least making people account for him - that's not going to stop. He just needs to hit Jo a couple more times for dunks and he'll see them loosen up on him.

    I've seen the Bulls play two much better games in the last three. We shouldn't ever forget that this team as it's currently constituted has only been playing together for ONE YEAR, the coach has never been a head guy and the best player has never been this far in the playoffs. They're going to have growing pains. They're still 5-2 so far. Even if Atlanta wins later today, I'm still confident.

  • In reply to rifle13:

    we all know but they are a one year team but they finished first of the eastern conference. That's why our expectations are high ! In others words, they have the talent to reach the nba finals.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Not to mention that the Miami Massengills look like world beaters right now, and they have even less continuity this year than do the Bulls.

    Noah, Rose and Deng have all played together for a while now.

    So, the one year team excuse doesn't fly.

  • In reply to rifle13:

    +1

  • In reply to deewaves:

    He has to shoot that shot, he has shown he can make open shots, but with the bad wheel and the additional pressure it's tough.

  • In reply to nucahx:

    he haS just to take it in a smarter way. How many have with seen almost an air ball when he shots three this playoffs.

  • In reply to nucahx:

    He really hasn't shown he can make threes though. He's had one month in his entire career (December 2010) where he's shot above the league average from three. That's why teams are giving him the shot, their scouting reports are better than the TV analysts that rave on about Rose having a 3 point weapon now.

    Rose needs to dial back the attempts. If he gets an open kickout, take it, he hits that at a good rate. The threes off the dribble can go though, nobody respects that shot at all because he doesn't make it at a good rate. Shooting and missing it isn't going to make defenders respect the shot, it's going to make them back off and dare him to shoot it some more.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    +100. that's what i am about !

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Okay, I'm worried now. It's SO obvious that Derrick is playing right through a sprained ankle, because what else can you do, it's the playoffs and you lead the team. See Michael Wilbon's excellent article with Dominique's quote about Rose. But what that all adds up to is worry - wasn't there a report about a Grade Two ankle sprain? And a note that those can become chronically weak if not treated right? We don't need a career-threatening injury here, folks! Don't know what I'm suggesting here, except maybe prayer or your local equivalent...

  • In reply to Edward:

    The third year does become a death march type of struggle, each team and player needs to find a new kind of inner strength.

    Michael had it, Scottie got it from Michael. We all assumed that Kobe has it, but he has never seemed to be able to translate it to his teammates.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Death March! What an accurate term, thanks.

    And 2011 is Lakers FOURTH consecutive trip to the Finals (if they were to make it).

  • Doug, great analysis regarding Korver. Another game in which he posts a sick +/- of +13 while Bogans - in a game we win easily! - registers only a +1 and Brewer a 0. And yes, a +13 while he goes only 1 of 9 from the field. The only other guy outside of Korver and Rose to post a great +/- was Deng at +14. Is it a coincidence that Deng, too, can shoot from outside and forces the defense to respect his shot from anywhere on the floor? No.

    Thibs will not pull Bogans for Korver, we know that. But he can play Korver more than 18 minutes. Bogans also played 18 min last game and Brewer played 11. I'd love to see Bogans also go down to 11 and give those 7 to Korver, who improves the 2nd unit just as much as the 1st unit.

    And we need to play him now, for if the Bulls play the Heat, he's going to play mostly with the 2nd unit, as he can't guard Wade or James, obviously.

  • In reply to ethanboldt:

    Noah was plus double digits also, the Korver stat with only 1-9 shooting should be tatooed to thibs forhead.

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