Hawks drop Bulls to even series, how to solve the offensive woes?

Hawks drop Bulls to even series, how to solve the offensive woes?

The Chicago Bulls fell to the Atlanta Hawks in game four.   It was a must win for Atlanta and a 'like to win' for Chicago.   Both teams generally played that way.

The Hawks switched up their defensive strategy switching to a more physical, Indiana style defense on him, pressing him hard on the perimeter and no longer giving him the jump shot.  

Derrick Rose adjusted by moving the ball frequently, but still managed to hoist up 32 shots, only connecting on 12.

The refs not helping out the Bulls much

Down the stretch, the game is knotted up with four minutes to go.   There were four calls that all likely should have been made in the Bulls favor that weren't.  An obvious missed charged on Atlanta, two layup attempts by Rose, and the inadvertent whistle on the three which should have been a real whistle.

The refs after the game agreed that they screwed the Bulls on the inadvertent whistle at least.  A poorly reffed final four minutes cost the Bulls as many as nine points, but poor defense and missed shots cost them more.  Leading one to wonder...

The Derrick Rose to Allen Iverson comparison is scary isn't it

The Bulls offense has really failed to click, and so far in the series, Derrick Rose has been held to games of 10/27, 11/27, and 12/32.   That's right around 38% for those games and that number isn't particularly appealing.  

The numbers, however, aren't so bad as they look though.   When Rose gets the ball up on the rim off the dribble, the Bulls get a ton of offensive rebounds on his misses.  He command so much defensive attention on the drive that the offensive rebound lanes are frequently open.   That's one of the primary reasons why the Bulls are such a deadly offensive rebounding team.

He also passed off to his shooters frequently in the game, but they didn't knock down shots.   Deng was 5/14, Korver was 1/8.    Boozer was 7/10, but you never felt that Boozer could have done tons more than he did and needed more looks.

Right now, Rose's game is remarkably similar to Iverson during the season in which the 76ers went all the way to the finals.  He's throwing up a ton of shots at a relatively low percentage, generating a ton of free throws, and getting the kitchen sink thrown at him on defense.   The Bulls are hoping that one man can create enough offense to win while their defense shuts down the other team.

Josh Smith and Al Horford made the difference for Atlanta

The key player in this game was Smith, but getting Horford involved on offense made a difference as well.   The Bulls over-committed to the perimeter, and the Hawks big men made the Bulls pay for it.    They had open looks on the interior off of quick passing as the Bulls tried to double team Johnson/Crawford outside.

I said it before, don't over-commit to those guys and let the big men beat you.  It's always better to give up the perimeter shot than the interior shot.   The Bulls defense will need to make some adjustments before next game.

They also let the Hawks get out in transition / early offense frequently, and the quick baskets killed Chicago who struggled to defend in the open court.

However, I do like the fact that the Bulls put Josh Smith in the role of primary decision maker, even though it worked for Atlanta this game.   As noted, I didn't like the overcommitment on the perimeter that led to open dunks, but you can't always shut down everyone.

If Josh Smith has to play at an extremely high level with great decision making for Atlanta to win, then at least you denied their strength, but you need to keep him on the perimeter while doing so.

Final thoughts

The Bulls now face a 'must-win' game five at home on Tuesday.  I would have hoped they could have come back with a 3-1 lead, but they weren't able to play well.   What scares me more than the legitimate possibility that Atlanta takes this series is that the way they're losing games will be exploited even worse by Miami.

The Bulls have not been able to contain Atlanta in transition and have been sloppy with the ball.   Those are the two things that make the Heat the most dangerous as they're virtually unstoppable in the open court. 

For the Bulls to win this thing, they need to get a handle on their transition defense and knock down open jumpers.  Games where they fail to do both are losses.   Game four was such a game.


Leave a comment
  • Doug, I want to say that i always read your post and i usually stay ut of the conversation here but you are dead on with your post. i just wanted to add this

    I review the game with score 80-80 and Thibs has a brain fart and put Boozer and Korver in at the same time and I counted at least 12 points that they gave up. We are a defensive team 1st and face facts Gibson is a better option with korver than Bozzer. i did not mention Boozer horrible defense during the game in which we need him to stand up. Sorry for the long post

  • In reply to humbleservant:

    Yep, those 2 guys should never play at the same time, never mind the entire 4rth. Gibson and Bogans shouldn't play together either, but luckily for us they don't.

  • For all the complaining a lot of us are doing about Rose's FG attempts, he didn't attempt too many 3 pointers which is usually the big issue with his shot attempts. He was driving inside which is what we want from him. I am not really sure if Rose's game(other than the turnovers) was the issue.
    The bigger thing is the SGs. Usually one of them atleast plays an average game if not a decent game. Everybody from Bogans,Korver, Brewer and CJ sucked badly yesterday. That literally is half the rotation who played and the other half is almost the non-shooting big men like Asik, Noah.. Even Asik scored more than Korver. That tells more about the flow of the game.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Yeah, I was going to ask if someone with more time than I have could calculate Rose's fg% after subtracting attempts in which he was fouled (not called) or tossed an end-of-quarter heave. I don't think it was really that bad, though he did miss some layups that he usually makes.

    Rose hitting layups he usually makes, plus a few more made free throws, and it's a different game. ATL can't play better. Bulls can. Will they? That's the question.

  • In reply to bfranke:

    yes they will.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Just a random thought, but the games in this series have been played at a pretty glacial pace (average in the low-mid 80s I believe). I know it goes against the conventional shorten your rotation wisdom, but should the Bulls play the bench mob more to push the pace?

    a) Atlanta have been one of the slowest teams in the league for years, they're clearly more comfortable playing slow.
    b) Atlanta play a pretty short rotation, running and tiring their guys out hurts them more than it hurts the Bulls who would just be running with mostly their bench guys.
    c) It gets back to the regular season identity of the team. The bench mob get it done based on defense and offensive rebounding, which was what the team was good at all year. In the regular season their defense often seemed to break the spirit of the other team and let the starters ride that home.
    d) Asik, Brewer and Watson are the three players suffering the most severe minute cuts. They were also the three players that had ridiculously good on/off defensive numbers. Any wonder why the Bulls defense isn't as good as the regular season?
    e) If you're going to use the Rose as Superman offensive scheme it may actually be more effective if you don't play him every minute of the second half.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I wonder too about the minutes cut for Brewer and Watson especially. Those guys had a feel when they come in and play for a certain number of minutes. Should they be producing with the lesser minutes..yes, they should. But, they are definitely having problems making layups, open shots. I think it takes a special type of preparation to produce offensively(even layups) if you are playing for less than around 5 minutes

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Thibs is doing what coaches do, coaching scared. phil used to have a feel for when the starters needed a break, and we had some nice runs by our bench in crucial playoff games during both three peats.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    He certainly was quick on the timeouts.

    I do wonder how guys like Watson said they were OK with playing fewer minutes than they had in the rest of their career during the regular season feel now. I mean the rationale was it's OK to play limited minutes if you know your role on the team, but right now these guys might play 2 minutes and if it goes badly Thibs throws the starters back in. During the regular season he seemed to have a bit more trust they'd right the ship.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    How to solve the offensive woes? Trade for Melo...lol.

    Quite honestly, LUOL DENG LOOKS SCARED out there. Maybe he needs a dog.

    He's not man enough to take it strong to the basket. 2 FTA's...that's weak!!!

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    The Knicks annihilated the offer you suggested the Bulls make for Melo.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Deng just needs better control when he goes up, he doesn't get calls because he's so floppy going to the hoop. If he appeared under control he would get a lot of calls he doesn't. Deng actually does initiate contact and should have more FTA's than he does. The kid needs to take dance lessons or something.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:


    * 30 FTA's vs. IND over 5 games.
    * 11 FTA's vs. ATL over 4 games.

    He's playing SOFT and SCARED!!!

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Or maybe he is using alot of energy on the other end of the court guarding Joe Johnson .... What do you think Johnson would have done to your boy

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    With Melo instead of Deng...the Bulls will be like NY now. They would have been upset by Granger(forget Joe Johnson). If Granger could score so much against the Bulls, he would have feasted on Melo's Bulls. Already, we have a defensive liabilities in Boozer, Korver and with Melo...not want to think about it.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Lol, the only way a Melo Bulls defense gets any worse is to hire Mike D'antoni or however you spell it.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Not looking good for the guys that want the bulls to trade for dwight


  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    even if we were on his wish list, we don't have enough asset to trade for him. Noah and boozer don't worth Howard. So they will ask someone else, deng, gibson ?? it would be too much.

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    I think Orlando will be playing real hard ball as they know LA Knicks Nets and Rockets will def be interested. The first team to give back decent assets AND take on Agent Zero will get Dwight.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Agree.. Denver has set the standard for negotiating such deals. And you are talking about a Center...Big Market teams will be ready to offer everything they have like the Knicks did.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I really want them to trade Boozer and Deng there is seriously a curse on Duke players I dont know what it is but no NBA starter from Duke has won a ring!!!

    Until those 2 are gone we arent getting a ring

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    When the offence becomes so one dimensional that ALL other players other than Derrick are treated as if they are KB then the offence will falter.

    I like Derrick taking over the game down the stretch; BUT to do it for the whole 4th qtr is just not gonna get it done.

    He has to mix it up, trust his fellow team mates to shoot as well or if not better than he is. There was a stat during the 4th qtr where Derrick was 3-11 for 6 pts and the rest of the team 1-3 for 4 pts. If Derrick is on song and TS% > 50% then fine continue to take the game over offensively but if he is not then he has to get others to contribute which will inevitably create more room for him. Her I blamer Thibs. We all know he is a control freak and is constantly barking out plays (one-four down being his favourite command lol) so he has to take responsibility here.
    Atlanta got out on the break in the 4th due to missed shots and stagnant transition D by the Bulls. If you have spent 20 secs standing in a corner waiting for Derrick to maybe pass you the ball then you will be flat-footed and react too slowly. The Bulls trive on energy; standing around watching does nobody any favours and hence they lose their defensive intensity

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    It's the same old story. Superstar Doesn't Trust Teammates. We still see it with Kobe. We saw it with MJ. The games in which he went off, the Bulls often lost or almost did. But when he shared the ball and used his ability to continually draw 2 and 3 defenders, he passed to the open man and the Bulls would win easily. He only got better with that as he got older.

    Rose is still very young, so hopefully he (and Thibs) learn . . . to make the Bulls better and extend his career.

    But maybe Doug is right and the Iverson Method is the only way this postseason. The lack of shooters in painfully evident, but they can D it up with the best of them. So the Bulls have to get back to playing the bench mob like they did in game 3. It made all the difference. Like Jersey66 says, this team needs to play with energy, serious energy, or forget it.

    Because if it comes down to H-O-R-S-E, this Bulls team is a G-O-N-E-R. Looking at it critically, MJ had so many great deep shooters around him at various points of his Bulls career: Paxson, BJ Armstrong, Kerr, Kukoc, but the Bulls have exactly one in Korver. It's why Mavs are looking so good, as they have 3 great deep shooters.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    1. The biggest thing which concerns me is this season seems to be as open as any for the existing teams to win. Miami has Bosh who says he is scared of playing in front of hostile crowds and we all know about LeBrick. Boston is old and seem to have a significant injury every quarter. Lakers, Spurs are gone. And, if Rose is Iverson...Iverson made it to one NBA finals and could never get back even if he was a multiple all-star. Hope the Bulls are not boganed out this season.
    2. Rose has to just get smarter. The Hawks were much more better on defense with how they blocked the paint area and closed out on shooters. Korver runs about 22 sec every possession to get open. I don't think I have seen anyone run so much to get open.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Anyone else want to throw something at the TV during the Bogans 'loaf' in the 1st quarter?? Boozer threw him a pass that was picked off, and it seemed like Bogans and Boozer were having a contest to see who could get back to the other end the slowest.

    For a guy that is supposed to bring energy and defense, and has no offensive value whatsoever, it was inexcusable. Wasn't like he was already beaten by 6 steps, either. He could have hustled back to make an attempt or a hard foul.

    I can't say that is when I knew the Bulls would lose, but it was definitely the moment I knew they weren't bringing the same intensity as Game 3.

  • In reply to saigman:

    I saw that, too. I don't know if Bogans could have caught him, but it was surprising and annoying that he didn't try.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Two things I noticed:

    1. That was the worst help/rotation D I've seen from the bulls squad this year. Asik, Noah and of course Boozer were slow rotating off double teams which created a wide open Hawk under the basket over and over again in the paint.

    2. That was the worst D I've seen Boozer play. He was rolling the red carpet out for Josh Smith to go to the bucket whenever he wanted to with his hands up in the air like he was giving up before Smith made his move. His double digit points are not worth the lack of rebounding, toughness and D we lack when Taj isn't playing late. For a big guy who is known to have quick feet, ability to know where his body is in space and how to use his body positioning to block off and seal defenders on offense, you would think Boozer could apply those attributes to the defensive side of the ball. I don't get it. He seems like a pretty proud guy, you would think he would be willing to go balls out on D.

  • In reply to Crowned:

    I think Boozer is just very mechanic in his movements, he can only make quick moves with the set of post moves he has in the bag, he can't really add lib at all. This explains his defensive shortcomings, defense is dynamic, it requires creativity and instincts. My point is Booze r is mentally retarded and reacts slower than ice melting. He is useful to the point that he can hit the mid range jumper, and when explosive has useful, set, well honed, post moves, but they are very mechanic in their nature. But how about that explosion to slam down that offensive rebound? I was like wtf? Where did that come from?

  • In reply to Crowned:

    Ditto on point 1. As far as point 2, I've seen Boozer play worse D. He just can't (never could) guard mobile bigs...or taller bigs...or any big that makes up his mind to score against him. It's really bad when Korver and Boozer are on the court together at crunch time - especially when Korver isn't knocking down shots.

    All the opposition has to do is spread the floor and take turns going one-on-one against those 2. When the Bulls have to scramble to cover for either or both of them, all it takes is good ball movement to eventually find the wide open man.

    I'm not sure what Thibs was looking for. He usually subs Booze for Taj at that point of the game. It makes me wonder if something else was going on that we don't know about.

  • In reply to magestew:

    Yea, I think Thibs was just searching for offense a little to desperately. He wanted to ride Boozer's hot hand, and I'm assuming he just figured Korver would eventually break through. Didn't happen though. Boozer actually showed some explosiveness, that put back jam he had was unbelievable coming from Booz and his wittle toe.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Lets give credit where credit is due, Jeff Teague has done an amazing job on Rose(relatively speaking) and its because he is nearly as fast and explosive while slightly smaller. Miami can't put a guy on Rose like Atlanta can in Teague. Wade is far to slow to guard Rose and we've seen that Rose can play at a high level with Lebron on him(see last years playoffs). Miami is a better defensive team than Atlanta, but Atlanta has better interior rebounding, and an athlete that can hang with Rose(as did Indiana in Paul George). I know Doug pee's a little every time he thinks about Miami. But the fact is they don't matchup well with us. Obviously James and Wade's ability can make up for the mismatches but we've yet to see it happen. We have a huge edge on interior depth and ability, a huge advantage at point guard, and solid, athletic, wing defenders in Brewer, Deng, and Bogans. We didn't beat the Heat 3/3 for no apparent reason.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Look, as much as I might dislike to agree, these playoffs are exactly why I have always said that Deng is the absolute definition of average run of the mill small forward.

    He shrinks/dissappears all the time. He is a solid contributor the way that role players are. He is a fourth best player on your team and no better. Noah is a third, and we have no second best.

    that is the problem that is being exposed in these playoffs, we don't have championship calibre talent.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Now you guys know why even as he was ascending to MVP I was concerned about Rose's plumetting shooting percentage.

    I mentioned that he was becoming Allen Iversonesque, or even worse Ben Gordonesque.

    Down the stretch last night, he really did not appear to be looking for his teammates at all. Although, his teammates didn't seem to be trying to do anything offensively either.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I'm also done with the Rose/Watson back court combo. We end up not being able to defend taller gaurds and Watson generates more offense for himself at the 1, not 2 position.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    This game turned on the insercion of Collins into the starting lineup. Not because Collins himself is so awesome, but because it switched everyone else down one spot and into matchup advantages.

    Ask Orlando about the Collins affect.

    Will Thibs even try to adjust, I doubt it. But Thomas or even Asik should start to take on Collins, free Noah to stay with Horford, and Deng to drop down to 2 guard against one of the few 2's that he can actually guard(Johnson). Deng simply does not have the size or physicallity to guard Smith which is what he is forced to do when Collins starts.

    the only question that remains is do you continue to start Boozer, who would be guarding Smith playing small forward, or do you go with Gibson on Smith.

    Will any of this even cross thibs mind, I doubt it. If he doesn't we may not make it to the ECF.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I have a question for all the Boozer apologists, who I suspect were all Ben Gordon fans also.

    Right now you could argue that Boozer is even worse than Gordon was. At least Gordon would/could go on a scoring rampage every once in a while. They are both among the worst defenders in the history of the world, because they simply don't even know how to try to play defense.

    So here is the question, what would Boozer be if he had Noah's heart and motor and played with Noah's energy.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Charles Barkley

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I guess I'm an apologist in that I don't like Boozer but I don't think an injured guy is deserving on as much flack as he's gotten. But given Fred from Chicago BuBUllseye thinks I actually am Kirk Hinrich I don't think you can describe me as a Gordon supporter. ;)

    I think Boozer hurt is a bit like Gordon in Detroit. Whether it's an injury or the fact that a guy is depressed he left a great situation to join a lotto team where he plays behind a guy they can't even dump the contract of, both aren't getting it done offensively. And when they're not getting it done offensively they become a net negative.

    I wouldn't want the Ben Gordon from Detroit but I'd gladly take the Ben Gordon that shot 45% from the field and 41% from three in enough volume to put up 20 a game. On this team that guy would be deadly. Likewise if we could get the 20 a game on 54% Boozer back from the start of the year he'd be a great weapon for the team.

    As far as the Noah question goes: How good would Noah have been in game 4 if he played with Noah's hear and motor and energy? Noah's my favourite guy on the team but he puts in bad games from time to time too.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Watson/Brewer/Bogans were 1-5 ... the problem is when you've got 3 guys combining to play the sort of minutes of one full time player and barely touching the ball you can't really say whether they sucked or not because they're just not getting the chance to do anything.

    There's a tendency to automatically assume that "Oh, Rose shot so much because he had to, nobody else could do anything" but how do we know the causation runs that way? What if his team mates can't do anything in those games because they're not getting the chance?

    If you look at the games in the regular season by field goal attempts (excluding games where Rose played less than 35 minutes due to blowouts, which would tend to distort the attempt numbers low), Bulls were 25-4 when Rose took 20 or fewer attempts and 22-11 when Rose took 21 or more. Now obviously this could be that his team mates were bad and he needed to take more shots, but it also could be his extra shot taking meant his team mates didn't get into the game. Certainly his assists are lower in the games where he's taking more shots, but give he's shooting instead of passing, can you say that's because of his team mates missing shots or just missing the chance to take shots?

    I'm not trying to prove or disprove anything either way, I'm just saying you can look at Rose's game and see there's certainly a spin put on it by Bulls fans that is only one of the plausible explanations.

    I don't know where the exact answer lies but in the absence of anything else to really go on if these guys managed to win 62 games with Rose taking about 20 shots a game then maybe that's a formula that works for them and they should be sticking to it. Sure some days his team mates will start out missing shots, but Rose has to trust what he's seen over the course of the season.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I agree in a way. Rose has to trust Korver even if he is missing shots and Korver should trust himself instead of passing up shots. But, it also falls on Bogans, Brewer to get open though. I agree with you a little bit on CJ. I saw a couple of plays where Thibs put in CJ with Rose and Rose wasn't even looking to pass to CJ. CJ was almost like Bogans on those plays not even touching the ball.
    That all said, I think one of the main reasons is this team took it a little easy and are still in the process of developing the killer instinct(mental toughness, overcoming mental fatigue)

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Whenever anyone says how Deng disappears in the 4th I think about how many opportunities did he really get. Rose dominates the ball many a game in the 4th and it often still works for the team but when they lose blame is often put on others.

    I know we don't expect a whole lot from him but brewer needs to make his presence known in this series. Maybe I overlook his defensive efforts a litttle but I expect more overall from him.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    For once I'll blame Thibs. During the final minutes, Korver was literally running around in circles trying to get open

  • In reply to Jmax:


  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I agree JMax! You play by the sword, you die by the sword!
    We are a awesome defensive team as a unit, but we are way to one dimensional on offense with everything going thru Rose! Granted he is a PG, but we don't want to see him being a Allen Iverson guy taking way too many shots when we have Boozer who is a good post guy and Deng who can slash and get us some points too!
    We have to trust in Korver and could have really used his offense last night but his shots weren't falling!

    I like the idea of tiring our the Hawks with our deep rotation and relying on our bench more for energy both offensively and defensively!

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Rose's FG attempts weren't the real issue given he didn't attempt many threes as you said. Beyond the bad game from SGs, the defensive wasn't there most of on Smith. Usually Smith and Hoford are off but it wasn't the case yesterday. Hawks shot 50% FG. It isn't normal. We're a defensive team, this means no matters how we play on the offensive end, we will loose if defense isn't there.

Leave a comment