Can Joakim Noah make Miami pay?

Joakim Noah has been called the heart and soul of this Bulls team many times. He plays with tremendous energy, enthusiasm, and effort. He defends the pick and roll, plays help defense, passes exceptionally well, runs the floor, and knocks down his free throws, but for a guy who plays in the position of Miami's greatest weakness, is he enough?

Miami has a glaring hole a center which they've tried to fix this off-season by signing the oft-injured Greg Oden. Maybe that will work out, if so, the rest of the NBA is done. However, in the likely event that Oden either completely sucks or can't stay healthy, Miami will again play out the season with a big man rotation of Bosh, Haslem, and Anderson with LeBron adding in depth by playing PF.

It's a rotation without a true center, one that's weak in the middle. It's a rotation that can be exploited by the right player. Joakim Noah's playing on a value contract. Joakim Noah does many wonderful things to help the Bulls win, but Joakim Noah may not be the right player to exploit that weakness.

He doesn't have the post game. He doesn't have the pure size. After watching Roy Hibbert average 22 points per game on 57% shooting against Miami in the playoffs, it's become clear that the Bulls aren't exploiting the middle nearly well enough.

Hibbert's a fine player, and he makes quite a bit more than Noah as he's on a max deal. Roy Hibberts aren't just sitting in the discount bin in NBA free agency after all. Still, he's somewhat of a pedestrian offensive player typically. I'd take Noah over Hibbert against many teams in the NBA, probably most teams. Noah provides better overall defense, and Hibbert's offense isn't so great against most matchups.

While Noah's amongst the league's best centers, against the most important matchup, Hibbert's the vastly better player. While the Bulls have an advantage at Miami's greatest weakness, they haven't shown they can exploit it well enough that a series win seems likely.

The two places it's easiest to attack Miami are at PG and C, Derrick Rose will need to prove he's all the way back. He'll need to prove he can do a hell of a lot more than he did in the 2010/11 playoffs, but Joakim Noah also has something to prove. The Bulls need more than help defense and offensive rebounding from Noah.

They need him to break down the Heat defense. They need him to get guys collapsing underneath and to cause havoc with the Heat's scheme. They need him to be a secondary point of attack that causes problems. It's a tall order for Noah, but he's shown that ability in bursts. He doesn't always need to score, he can just establish position and find the open man, something he's quite skilled at.

In the end, most Bulls fans would put Noah as the Bulls second best player, he made his first all-star team last year, and if the Bulls are to win a championship then he needs to bring even more to the table then he already is.

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  • I love Noah and wish we had him on the Heat, but there’s a reason he’s not a max player. If he had the offensive game to break down the Heat’s defense, he’d be making $19M/year. Noah already does so many things other center’s do not do. Just accept him for what he is.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Noah's offense is going to be in full swing this year with the best point guard aka Derrick Rose coming back. He's going to create so many more opportunities for Noah to score and showcase his post game after he's been working on it all summer.

  • Doug, great post. This is a cogent analysis on why the Bulls don't match up well with the Heat and what are you going to do? Try to replace Noah with a better player?

  • If Boozer were the type of player as the Pacers David West at the power forward spot, then the Bulls would have a better chance at beating Miami. Also if the Bulls had better perimeter scorers the Bulls would be able to beat the Heat in a playoff series. Today's Bulls team is basically every team the Jordan Bulls had to go against in the 90's during the playoffs. Today's Bulls team is good, but not good enough to beat Miami come playoff time. This is just my opinion until today's Bulls team prove me wrong.

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    Good post...The main thing I like about Joakim Noah is that he's 7 ft tall who plays like a SF. He doesn't plant himself in the paint like Roy Hibbert. I like Hibbert too, but he's more of a traditional old skool type of center. Noah has developed into a fine defender, with very good foot speed for a big who has the ability to put defensive pressure on every position player from a 1 to a 5. Plus his foot speed helps him on the boards against traditional stiffs like Hibbert, and Brook Lopez. Since Noah doesn't clog lanes makes it easier for Derrick Rose to drive to the hole, and since Noah possesses good foot speed allows him to make it to the hole quickly for putbacks in case Rose should miss a layup. Noah's not the reason for Miami's playoff dominance over the Bulls. It's the 2's, 3,'s and 4's who can't seem to handle Miami's defensive pressure and score when needed. imo

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    the main/only problem with Noah is that he is 6'10.5", which as Joseph Conrad said of Mr Kurtz in the Heart of Darkness, is not quite 7 feet tall. Allegorically alluding to the fact that he never quite measured up.

  • Pau Gasol stands out ss someone who could fit that kind of bill. However, his 19 mil a year contract comes into play as" forget about it". If he could even be paired With Noah, there wouldbe a dynamic causing all types of havoc: on offense, Gasol working with Noah (when have the Bulls ever had competent post play taught? ) on an everyday basis. On defense, 2 seven footers complimenting the pivot switching off, with Butler, Deng and Rose on the perimeter.

    One could dream right? ? It's simply unfortunate that the FO doesn't gamble because players age, contracts expire and Time is always marching on.

    But, Gasols contract ends this year as well doesn't it?

  • In reply to mummuhwalde:

    Gasol is intriguing. You are correct in that he would be perfect for the Bulls at the 4 with Noah at the 5. I'd hate to trade for him though given his advanced age and 1 year remaining on his (very expensive) deal. I think his contract goes over $19 mil if traded.

    what about this for 2014-15 season:
    1) Amnesty Boozer
    2) Letting Deng go and bringing Mirotic over at the mid level of around $5 mil to play the 3
    3) Signing Gasol ($7-10 mil for 2-3 years?) to play the 4. Probably have to Amnesty Boozer

    So, starting Rose, Butler, Mirotic, Gasol, Noah.

    Not sure if Gasol's knees can hold up, but wow, what a team and much more balanced offensively with better shooters surrounding Rose. Rose-Gasol pick and roll/pop would be lethal.

    Gasol may not hold up beyond 3 years, but his contract would be decent, one would think and you are not giving up anything to sign him since he's a FA after this season.

    Mirotic probably cannot play defense against most NBA SFs. But, perhaps the Bulls can live with it, or bring Mirotic off the bench and find another SF to start and play with the first unit.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Gasol considers himself a center, greatly prefers to play center and someone will likely to pay him quite a bit more than $7-10 million to play center, maybe even the Lakers if all else fails and Kobe tells them to.

    Do any of us really know what position Mirotic will play in the NBA, I doubt it. My sense is that everybody looks at him as a stretch 4. They say you are who/what you can guard. If he can't guard the 3 then he can't play the 3.

    So while your post is hopeful, I think that it is wishful thinking, not reality.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    1. Don't be so sure that Gasol will want to play for D'Antoni's little man, up-tempo system in LA. D'Antoni still has 3 years left in his deal.

    2. Don't expect that tons of teams lining up to pay a 34 year-old 7 footer big money. I think $30 million over 3 years would be a nice contract for Gasol, assuming he is fairly healthy and plays well this year. I can't imagine teams going much higher than that.

    3. Gasol wants to be on the block, but has no problem playing PF as long as he gets the ball where he can score instead of having to jack up perimeter jumpers.

    4. Mirotic - I agree that we have no idea where he'll play, but given his size and athletic ability guarding the 3 seems to be an issue. However, Gasol can play the 5 when Noah is out and Mirotic can play 4. Mirotic can also play the 4 with Noah when Gasol is out.

    Bottom line: it is definitely wishful thinking, but if Gasol is healthy, look for Chicago to kick the tires next year and come with a strong offer since $30 could be freed up with Boozer and Deng's contracts up. I think replacing those guys with size and shooters like Gasol and Mirotic makes perfect sense. The biggest question to be would be Gasol's health moving forward since he's getting up there in age. 2-3 years is probably his window. But, if there is cap space and the Bulls are not giving up anything to get him, why not?

  • Excellent post. I brought up this topic after the ECF when I suggested that I would not trade Noah straight up for Hibbert, but that he(Hibbert) appears to be the better(more effective) center against Miami, primarily because of his size(length).

    To me this is just one more reason that losing Asik was an unpardonable sin. While Asik does not have even Hibberts offensive skills, he does have that one thing that you can't teach or learn, pure legit size. In addition to being very useful against the likes of Hibbert and Lopez, I always felt that Asiks size was particularly effective against Miami, maybe more so than anything that Noah gives us against them. Additionally, Asik allowed us to go really big by using Noah as a power forward on Bosh. Hate to keep bringing it up, but it does kind of keep rearing its ugly head. After all, besides enjoying a lot wins in the regular season, the only thing that really matters is beating Miami in the postseason, which right now means figuring out how best to do that.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Totally agree on how crappy it feels every time I think about how the Bulls could have locked up Asik after his 1st year for not much money for about 3 years.

    As I've said on this site, Asik was injured in the 2011 ECF and I'm sure that the Bulls would have strongly considered locking him up for the long-term if healthy. If not for Houston and that insane rule about the cap, Asik would still be a Bull.

    It was just the perfect storm against Chicago in terms of timing and Houston utilizing that rule. It would be tough to bring over Mirotic at the mini-mid-level next year if the Bulls were way over the cap due to Asik's max contract next year. I see both sides.

    I think some of it was just that the Bulls management didn't know exactly what they had. Asik just kept getting better at a more advanced age. It's not like he was 22 years old - he just turned 27.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Asik is a substantial loss but the Bulls still have a great bench and I don't believe you beat the Heat by further strengthening the bench. Bulls need better starters and specifically, better offensive starters. I don't think Asik would be the answer.

    Also discussions of Asik should be about a 12-14 minute bench player, not the 20/20 hindsight player who blossomed into the NBA's second-leading rebounder while playing starter minutes with the Rockets.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    There were a limited handful of us who had 20/20 foresight and predicted that not only was Asik a legitimate starting center, but that he was in the top half(maybe top ten) of the league and would average a double double as a starter. I went so far to say that OKC would have beat Miami with Asik instead of Perkins, when I suggested an Asik for Harden trade as being fair. There are any number of advanced stat guys that show Asik as one of the most if not most impactful defensive player in the league over the past 2 seasons, an impact that was evident against Miami, even in a small sample size.

    We can debate how great the Bulls bench is, especially since what made the original bench mob great, was the defensive pairing of Asik and Gibson. While this years bench might be better offensively than the original, the clear weakness of this years bench, just as it was last season is frontcourt/bigman depth. If Teague performs at all this season, Nazr will be the worst bench/replacement player. Having/not having Asik is likely the difference between having a great bench and not having one.

    I totally agree with you that the Bulls need a much better second scorer(not named Ben Gordon or Luol Deng, or Bozo the Bamboozler) than they have ever had in the Rose era, and it does not look like he is on the current roster.

    I cannot help but maintain that we should have built a winning roster around Noah, TAj and Asik as a defense and rebound frontline and looked to bolster the wing scoring positions.

    I see Mirotic as being/becoming the second best scorer that we have had in the Rose era. He could be a great sixth man and then an eventual starter.

    Plus, as I have mentioned more than once, Asik was a major asset in that as long as you have him, trading Noah for a legitimate second scorer was always an option, without Asik, you really can't trade Noah unless you win the deal in a bigway, and without giving up several other assets.

    I know that you hate the Asik thing, but everytime you see a relative slug like Hibbert develop into a player that challenges a team like Miami, it just pours salt, vinegar and alcohol on an open wound. That wound will scream even louder when Houston trades Asik for an all star or near all star level player this season, or worse yet if he ends up on a championship contender that the Bulls will have to beat themselves.

    Well, at least Doug found another good topic for us to debate in the dog days of summer

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Also, while Asik was the starter last season, he still often played less than 30 minutes a night. I would bet my bottom dollar that absent the BozoHole the bulls could find 30 minutes a night for him(leaving 66 for Noah and Taj to split) while making the Bulls a much better(tougher to beat) team

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Asik absolutely, positively, was NOT some sort of "huge asset" when he was a Bull. It now seems pretty widely accepted as fact that the best trade offer the Bulls got at the 2012 trade deadline was Courtney Lee. Yeah, I can't believe the Bulls turned down that one................ Not one team inquired about a sign-and-trade, and HOU was the only team to make any effort to try and sign him as a free agent. Which should make this season and next summer very interesting. I can't wait to see how often McHale tries to play Asik and Howard together, and I can't wait to see what HOU winds up getting in return for Asik in a trade.....................................I do know that Asik has joined the 1st Team Most Overrated by Bulls fans: Asik, Hibbert, Paul George, Nate Robinson and LaMarcus Aldridge.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Just to clarify, I think Asik is a hell of a defender and rebounder, one of the best in the NBA. But he's Joel Przybilla and DeSagana Diop if they had each exceeded their potential defensively and on the boards. But Omer has no more offense than they did/do, that's why I think he's getting overrated by a lot of Bulls fans.................................But not as overrated as Hibbert's ECF vs Miami, but you'll have to wait til I write the article to find out why................................. ;-)

  • In reply to Granby:

    Actually no, the Bulls could NOT have signed Asik to an extension after his first season, the CBA doesn't allow it.

    Bulls management knew EXACTLY what they had, that's why they offered Asik a 4 year, $24 million contract after his 2nd season. That's the absolute most they could have offered him.

    People want to play Asik and Noah together vs Miami? We'd score 60 points a game and never beat them. We already have problems scoring against the Heat, a Noah/Asik/Gibson front court would have meant scoring 80 was a great game.

    Mirotic is coming over, that's just one more reason we couldn't pay Asik all that money.

    It might sound crazy, but instead of paying Asik $8 million a year to be a great defender, why not pay Dunleavy and Mirotic a COMBINED $8 million a year... I kind of like the idea of replacing Asik with the guy who was 8th in the NBA last season in 3pt% AND the best stretch 4 in the world who isn't an NBA player??

    Sure we lose Asik's defense, it's too bad because he has the potential to be an All-Defensive First Team, All-Star Center... oh wait, we already have one of those!!!

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Agree. Noah seems to have a lot more of an energy PF type game but at 6'11" he has the size to play center. Hibbert is a legit 7'2" and that lane clogger type really bothers the Heat. You could see it when Asik and Taj would come in during playoff games and you could immediately see the impact of them locking down the post and how it really altered Miami's game for the worse.

    Overall Noah is better and on a much more team friendly deal. But yeah I agree with Doug that Hibbert is better against Miami and probably a few other teams geared towards penetration offense.

  • Jo shot in the low 40's in two of the last three playoffs. Personally, I think he's seen his best days. His scoring will not improve at this point as he has regressed IMO.

    The league rewards perennial winners such as the Bulls as in granting Deng and Noah the nod as All-Stars when they are not even close to being so on any non Thibodeau grinding D win totals team or in a smaller market i.e not post Jordan Chicago. That doesn't mean they aren't gutsy players and deserving of warm regards from Bulls fans. It's just that they've been here way the f-ck too long.

    I'm glad Doug finally gave Hibbert some props. He nearly catapulted his team into the NBA Finals. Can he do it again? Who knows.

    Bottom line: Rip Hamilton as a starting SG answer was a joke. Now they better hope Jimmy Butler can become more of a volume scorer including three pointers??

    There is at least a chance Teague could emerge as a nice rotation player giving Rose minutes to score under less duress at the two as in not predictably walking up and holding the ball looking to score from the get go of a set offense. One thing to remember is that Derrick's hardly an elite A/TO PG which could catch up to him in a tight ECF even if they do manage to get a scorer.

    IMO the Bulls have no chance of winning until they get a second legit scorer. The question is: do you really focus on the upcoming season as a chance to win it, or look to make a move for next summer and bring in Dirk at a discount with LeBron following suit if D-Rose shows star like play again and the Bulls parlay Deng and Jo into huge cap space clearance such as with an early season trade for Pau Gasol.

    Of course fans on here will detest this as will Doug. So Bulls go for a 'title run' and we'll see how far they get next spring after amassing a great regular season meaningless win total once again. In the last eight years no team has won a championship in nearly a without either an alpha scorer beyond 6'5 or a trio of future HOF's as in Boston or duo with a then scintillating Ginobli in S.A.

  • Like many Bulls fans, I like Noah for the many intangibles he possesses, his hustle and heart, the passing, etc.

    Problem is Noah somehow never learned or refused to learn, to SHOOT A BASKETBALL. This will prevent him from being an NBA Champion, imo. Two-handed set shooters do not win NBA Championships - Rick Barry's FTs aside.

  • In reply to Edward:

    What is that supposed to mean? Seriously, is it a joke? You mentioned Barry's FTs, Noah is an outstanding FT shooter for center, career 73% and 74%, 74%, 75% and 75% the last 4 seasons. Bill Cartright's shot was just as ugly as Noah's, and he barely got off the ground on his "jumpers", and he has 3 rings. And was a career 77% FT shooter. Noah is a much better jump shooter than Hibbert, I guess we can write him off?

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    What is it supposed to mean? It is in reference to shooting two-handed. Rick Barry shot FTs two-handed (underhanded) and won an NBA Championship and I note that as an exception. The Rick Barry comment was simply a tongue-in-cheek comment at the end of my post - and I see it distracted from my main point because it got you focused on FTs and not jump shots which was not my intention.

    Noah is not in any way a jump shooter. He has a two-handed set shot that opposing defenses don't bother to guard. Because it is a set shot and not a jumper, Noah cannot use while being guarded - he must be wide,wide open. It can never be a turn around, a pull-up, a fade away. He never learned to shoot a basketball.

    Bill Cartwright's jump shot, though awkward looking was fairly effective and he could shoot it even while being guarded, unlike our Noah.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Thanks for clarifying that, now it makes sense.

    The part that threw me off was when you said Noah would never wear a ring because of his shot. Dennis Rodman didn't have a jump shot, and he has 5 rings.

    Bill Laimbeer didn't have a jump shot, and he has 2 rings.

    But like you said, teams don't guard Noah's set shot from 18 feet- well that's fine. If he's going to be wide-open, he just needs to make more than the ~30% he hits during his first four seasons. He made 37% of his jumpers in each of the last two seasons, there's certainly not a whole lot wrong with that for a center.

    In 2012 and 2013, only 27% and 35% of his shots were jumpers, and he's hit them at a lot higher percentage than he did in his first four seasons. And over his six seasons, the Bulls offense has been more efficient when he's on the floor than when he's not.

    Plus, starting with next season he'll (hopefully) be playing more with Mirotic and never with Boozer. That should free him up to concentrate his offensive efforts on screen roll with Rose and posting up- as it is, he only shoots 2 or 3 jumpers a game.

    And if Noah is being guarded 18 feet from the basket, he's gotten much better at taking his man off the dribble and finishing with a one-handed runner. He has also improved his low-post hook shot with either hand.

    Basically, I'll never agree with any blanket statement that says a team whose center doesn't shoot (and/or make) a lot of jumpers can't ever win a championship. No roster has five perfect-rounded players.

  • Noah is a great value at his contract, you can run offense through him and he is starting to shoot the midrange besides his great defense and rebounding. The problem with the Bulls is consistent production from the 2,3 and 4 positions and lack of 3pt shooting to punish the Heat or other elite defenses when they double on Rose. With Butler taking the 2 spot and Deng in a contract year along with Dunleavy, I'm hoping to see big production from the wings that in past years rely to heavily on Rose to do everything for them.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    And Butler is also in a contract year. He is eligible to sign an extension next off-season 2014.

  • Wow, these are a few pretty funny comments here. Thanks everyone who contributed.

    So Doug writes an article about how Hibbert is the kind of center that is needed to beat the Heat, because of his dominant low-post scoring as the Heat don't have a big man who can guard him. All well and good, and Doug's 100% correct about how good Hibbert was offensively last post-season vs the Heat.

    And while I don't agree 100% with Doug on Hibbert being the key to beat the Heat, he makes tons of good points that lots of intelligent people agree with.

    But what does Omer Asik have to do with any of that conversation? I would hope nobody is surprised that Asik put up such great rebounding numbers with HOU, we all knew he was an outstanding rebounder. So of course when he went to what was an average rebounding team, he was going to have all kinds of chances to rebound.

    I have zero interest in selling his rebounding (and defense) short- but what does he have to do with Hibbert? Omer is no better on offense than he was as a Bull, and even if the Bulls would have kept him, he would have had absolutely zero chance to "pull a Hibbert" on the Heat.

    There's no way in hell that any team can use Asik's low post offense to beat the Heat, because he doesn't really have any low post offense.

    Obviously, Noah is never going to play the style of ball that Hibbert does on offense. We can all thank God for that- I sure as hell wouldn't need to see Hibbert clogging the lane on offense so that Rose always has 2-3 defenders around him as he tries to score in the paint.

    Hopefully, the Bulls have figured out this season that their best offense will be Rose, Noah, and three 3-point shooters to spread the floor. I'm really looking forward to seeing a Rose/Butler/Dunleavy/Deng/Noah lineup going against the Heat in this year's playoffs.

    As for Hibbert- yes, he had one outstanding 7-game series against the Heat. But lots of guys in lots of sports have had ONE good 7-game playoff series, only to fall back down to Earth in subsequent seasons.

    In the 2011-12 regular season and playoffs and the 2012-13 regular season, Hibbert was just his usual average self against the Heat:

    2011-12 reg season: 4 gms, 33.2 min, 41.9% fg, 54.5% ft (2.8 att/gm), 10.5 pts, 8.3 reb, 1.3 ast, 2.0 to, 1.75 blk, 3.5 pf

    2011-11 postseason: 6 gms, 32.3 min, 47.5% fg, 68.2% ft (3.7 att), 12.3 pts, 11.5 reb, 1.0 ast, 1.8 to, 2.5 blk, 3.5 pf

    2012-13 reg season: 3 gms, 30.6 min, 38.2% fg, 75.0% ft (1.3 att), 9.7 pts, 8.0 reb, 1.0 ast, 2.0 to, 0.67 blk, 4.3 pf

    Hibbert had a very nice series last playoffs, but after 2 season series and a playoff series of play that was downright below average AT BEST, I think it's best to slow down on the "Hibbert is the Heat killer" talk.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    And just for the record, the last team to defeat the Heat in a playoff series was pretty much devoid of any post game whatsoever. In fact, their center had less post game than Noah. They beat the Heat with a stretch 4 and an undersized backcourt and lots of 3's They shot 41.1% from behind the arc in the series, including 24/45 (53.3%) over the final 96 minutes after the series was tied 2-2.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    As the uber intelligent basketball fan/mind that you are, have you ever heard of a guy named Tyson Chandler?

    Dallas may not have had a post game on offense(although Nowitzki played quite a bit out of the high post) , but their center was the real DPOY that season in addition to being a legit 7 footer. Without Chandler the Mav's would not have even won the West never mind beating the Heat in the finals. Which is why I brought up Aisk, not for his offensive game or lack there of.

    There isn't a player, coach or owner on that Mav's team who doesn't credit Chandler as being "the" reason that they won the title that season after flailing to do so for nearly a decade with the best stretch 4 in the history of the game.

    It wasn't Hibberts offense that gave the Heat so many problems, it was his shear size on defense. Defensively, I'd take Asik over Hibbert, which again is why he entered the discussion.

    You don't beat the best player(Lebron) in the game with a one dimensional team, you need both/all aspects of the game to do so.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Come on now, you don't have to tell me about Tyson Chandler, I'm a huge, giant fan of his... just ask my youngest son, Tyson Ellis... :-)

    Again, I'm sorry I don't want to get too detailed here as I am working on a full-length article about the myth of Hibbert in the Miami series, but a few points:

    Tyson was huge in the 2011 Finals, no doubt. Noah isn't the defender Asik is, but Asik is simply horrible on offense. We cannot beat the Heat playing 4 on 5 on that end of the floor. Tyson is no Wilt on offense, but he's still far and away better than Omer. In fact, Tyson had the highest offensive rating (137) in the entire NBA for the 2011 playoffs.

    Omer is just literally horrible on offense- even in last year's playoffs, his PER and Off Rtg look good overall, but that's because Brooks went to HackAsik the last 2 games and Omer got hot from the line. He was disgusting the first 3 games, and Game 4 he put up nice numbers because he grabbed 8 off reb (he had a TOTAL of 13 off reb in the other 5 games).

    Again I love Asik's defense and wish the Bulls could have kept him... but I understand why they let him walk at HOUs price. The 4/24 CHI offered was more than fair

    And I have no doubt that Noah needs to pick up his offense vs MIA for the Bulls to beat them in May, unless Butler or Mirotic become All-NBA level players on offense soon, and I don't see that happening.

    And a little sneak peek, Hibbert's defense against the Heat was, uhh, not good. The Pacers held Miami under 90 points only once in the entire series, the Game 6 which was the only time the Heat's Off Rtg was under 107.3 (for the series, their Off Rtg was 113.6, which was HIGHER than their regular season Off Rtg).

    Hell, their regular season Off Rtg was only 112.3- I don't plan to look it up, but it has to be quite rare for a team's Off Rtg to be higher in the NBA Finals than it was during the season.

  • First of all, two things:
    01) Noah won't ever have Hibbert's post game;
    02) He will never be the reason Chicago won't pass Miami.
    Yes, Indiana matched well against them because of Roy's play too, but mostly because David West wouldn't let them play small ball (remember Phil`s "you're only as good as your weakest link"?). Miami is at its best when James is playing PF with shooters spread out (Chalmers, Battier, Allen, Miller). When James is playing SF, he has Wade and two frontcourt players who aren't great 3 point shooters, so you can just crowd the midlle and double team him. I don't want to blame our favorite scapegoat again, but the reason the bulls don't match up well against Miami has a name, and a last name. CARLOS BOOZER. To prevent the heat to play small ball you have to have a player that the other team's "stretch 4" can't guard inside. Well, James proved he can guard Carlos in spurts and Battier proved he can frustrate Boozer by simply denying him the ball in post position repeteadly. Gibson doesn't have a inside game too that can prevent the Heat to play small ball, so here we go.
    Of course, there's another reason Miami have always the upper hand against anybody in the league. They have the best player.
    Anyway, what i'm trying to say is, Miami are the champions and every other team should be focusing on explore their weaknesses to beat them (Size, rebounding and interior play). Let me just say Carlos was brought to provide the last (or was because of his defense?)
    Doug, last but not least, let me just thank you for your time and the nice work you do here, especially in the offseason to prevent us from boredom. I really do appreciate it (remember, at least the offseason is summer for you guys. I live in the southern state in Brazil and we are getting winter, snow and still no basketball).

  • In reply to brazilianbullsfan:

    That makes sense in theory, and I pretty much agreed with you until I looked at the actual numbers........................... West was pretty bad against the Heat last playoffs. Outside of his 26 points in Game 1 anyway. Games 2-7 he struggled for the most part: 38.2 min, 40.7% fg, 72.7% ft (5.5 att), 9.5 reb, 1.8 ast, 2.2 to, 0.67 stl, 1.17 blk, 3.0 pf, 15.0 pts........................................ Miami's "normal-sized" PF/C are Bosh, Haslem, Andersen, and Anthony. In Games 2-7, this is their combined minutes: 67:10, 72:12, 68:17, 77:27, 75:52, 69:06.... so there were on average 24.3 minutes each game that they didn't have a true PF or C on the floor. Now obviously LeBron didn't play all of those minutes at PF, but it surely seems like LeBron played quite a bit of PF vs the Pacers, and West struggled............................ So I certainly don't think that West forced the Heat to keep LeBron out of the PF slot. It seems like West was out on the floor at least 14 minutes per game without the Heat having an actual PF/C on the floor.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    I don't agree with the struggle statement, even number`s wise. Although West didn't shoot very well, he played good basketball throughout the series. And by the way, compare those frontcourt minutes you brought up with the minutes played in the chicago's series. Compare Battier's minutes against the bulls and the pacers. I barely remember him on court against Indiana.
    Regarding the Mavericks comment, Dallas was a better small ball team than the 2011 heat and had great 3 point shooters (the bulls have none). To beat the heat, Chicago has to play within their strenghts. As currently constructed, the bulls' roster have no chance playing small ball against Miami.

  • In reply to brazilianbullsfan:

    West played fairly well vs the Heat outside of scoring, that is very true. But I assumed you were talking about his offense, since you were talking about small ball (you said "To prevent the heat to play small ball you have to have a player that the other team's "stretch 4" can't guard inside.") That's why I was pointing out that vs the Heat, West surely wasn't providing the offense that would have prevented the Heat from playing small ball................................. You're 100% correct that the Heat's big men played more (71.7 min/game) vs the Pacers than they did against the Bulls (66.7 min/game), so they played 29.3 min/game of small ball vs the Bulls and only 24.3 vs the Pacers.......... And Battier played less vs the Indy, but it didn't have anything to do with Indy- it was because he had played 25.3 min/game vs the Bucks and 25.8 min/game vs the Bulls, and he couldn't hit a 3 to save his life (12/46, 26.1%)...... He played 22.6 min/game the first 3 games vs Indy, but he was only 1/10 on 3's. Then he played 17:23, 8:29 and 4:26 in Games 4-6 and only shot 1/5 on 3's. At that point he was 14/61 (23.0%) on 3's in the playoffs, and he didn't even play in Game 7 vs Indy......................... That's why he barely played the first 4 games of the FInals (a TOTAL of 28:22, 7.3 min/game), and he was 1/9 on 3's in those 4 games. He finally hit 2/6 on 3's in Game 5 of the Finals in 17:30, and 3/4 on 3's in Game 6 playing 12:34. His slump over, he played 28:42 of Game 7 of the NBA Finals, hitting 6/8 of his 3's and scoring 18 points. Only LeBron with 37 and Wade with 23 outscored Battier for MIA...........................And just for the record, I agree with you 110% that Boozer was disgusting vs the Heat in the playoffs this year. There is no excuse for him getting completely in the low post with Battier guarding him. Part of it wasn't Boozer's fault- Hinrich was hurt and he's 10x better at entering the ball into the post than Robinson was. But Boozer still gets at least 90% of the blame, probably more.

  • In reply to brazilianbullsfan:

    But you're 100% wrong in saying Dallas had "great 3-pt shooters and the Bulls have none". Butler shot 40.5% on 3's in last year's playoffs. Hinrich shoots 40.2% on 3's in his playoff career. Dunleavy has only been in the playoffs twice, but he's 38.5% on playoff 3's, and he's at 41.1% over the last 3 regular seasons. Deng needs to get back up to at least 36%, hopefully he can with his wrist and thumb healed.................................I certainly expect our playoff rotation next spring vs the Heat to be Rose, Hinrich, Butler, Deng, and Dunleavy getting all of the PG/SG/SF minutes, and a decent amount of the PF minutes as well. I fully expect Boozer to be well under 30 min/game vs the Heat, with Noah and Gibson getting all of the C minutes....................................Murphy won't play much as a rookie, but he is an outstanding 3-pt shooter- same with Snell who will get a few more minutes than Murphy this year but isn't quite as good of a 3-pt shooter as Murphy. Then next summer, we'll have one of the best 3-pt shooting PF in the world joining the roster- yes he'll be a rookie, but he isn't your average rookie, he was just named the MVP of the #2 professional league in the world, right behind the NBA of course.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Maybe next year then i will join the bulls' "small ball bandwagon". Butler shot 40% on threes in that series but Dirk is the best "stretch floor" of all time and shoots that percentage for his career. Jimmy has to prove he can hit the 3 ball consistenly for at least a season. Remember Ronnie Brewer started the 2012 season shooting 70% on threes (first 20 or so games). Other than him, Noah, Taj and Boozer don't shoot threes at all, and Rose, deng and Hinrich aren't very good 3 point shooters. There goes 80% of our rotation. If Thibs implement small ball, and i doubt he will, given his record, though, i will be rooting as much as you for it to work. I just don't think that style of play benefits the bulls against the heat.

  • In reply to brazilianbullsfan:

    Of course there is only one Dirk- but I have a lot of faith in Butler, he was a good 3pt shooter in college but he just didn't shoot a lot of them (1.3 att/game). He hit 40% his last 2 seasons at Marquette, and he's hit 37.3% as a Bull (that's 139 games, but only 153 3pt attempts). But he's such a hard worker I think he's going to be an outstanding 3-pt shooter............................................... I don't know why you said Hinrich isn't a good 3pt shooter, he's 40.2% in the playoffs for his career, and he still shot 39.0% last season, that's pretty good. And you forgot Dunleavy, he's over 41% his last 3 seasons. He was 8th in the NBA in 3pt% last season, and he should get a lot more open looks this season playing with Rose...............................The two wild-cards in this are Deng and Rose- Deng needs to get back to AT LEAST where he was during Thibs' 1st two seasons (35.4% 3's on 4.0 Att), and hopefully closer to the 36.7% on 3's in 2011-12. Rose has had lots and lots and lots and lots of time off to work on his 3pt shot.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    I think Chicago will improve their 3 point shooting this year. Because of Rose and because of the new players. I just don`t think playing small against Miami is a good thing for us. They have the most talent and i don't think playing their preferential style of play suits us better. By the way, Thibs' record proves he doesn`t like to play small and only does it when noah or gibson are injured. Maybe he changes his mind next year if Mirotic replaces Boozer in the rotation

  • And the only team to actually defeat the SuperFriends in a playoff series had zero low-post game. They beat them with a stretch 4 and lots of 3-pointers, which I'm hoping the Bulls will do in the 2013-14 playoffs.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Again, you don't necessarily need low post offense, but you absolutely need interior rim protection defense(i.e. Chandler) to go along with your 3 point shooting barrage offense to beat the Heat. Convenient of you to point out that they had zero low post game, while ignoring that in Chandler they had superior interior defense.

    I am totally looking forward to the arrival of Mirotic next season along with the departure of the BozoHole. I am optimistic that he will be the second best offensive player in the Rose era. However, we will basically be down to Noah and Taj(both of whom are undersized for their positions) as our "big" men. Add Asik back to that team, and I really like our chances against anybody, including the Heat.
    I still contend that if Asik had not gotten injured in the ECF against Miami we might not have won the series, but we certainly would not have lost that series in 5 games.

    I guess if your goal is to become Miami to beat Miami then by next season we will be headed in that direction except of course we won't have Lebron or anything remotely like him. I don't think that you can beat a team by mimicking their style when they have the best player in the game, you have to beat them by exploiting their weaknesses, to the extent that they have them.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I agree with you 100% that we need interior defense, but I just happen to think that Noah can give us exactly what Chandler gave Dallas back in 2011. In fact, if you look at Tyson's Finals numbers vs Noah's number in last year's playoffs for a short-handed team, they are almost identical:

    TC- ~37 min, 8.8 reb, 1.17 blk, 1.17 stl
    JN- ~38 min, 9.2 reb, 0.80 blk, 1.20 stl

    Next year's playoffs, Noah will be about 6 months older than Tyson was in the 2011 Finals. Hopefully he can give us pretty much the same thing Tyson gave the Mavs in the 2011 Finals. Stats aren't everything obviously, but Noah is an outstanding help defender just like Tyson, and Noah usually does a pretty decent job on Bosh man-to-man.

    Dallas beat Miami on 3's, 41.1% (51-124) to 34.6% (45-130) for the series. They also shot 7 more FT in the series, but Miami grabbed 5 more rebounds overall. Adding Dunleavy will be huge from behind the arc, and Jimmy needs to keep up with what he did last playoffs. Hinrich needs to be near his career 40% playoff 3's, and obviously Rose needs to have improved his 3-pt shooting quite a bit (since he didn't bother suiting up for the playoffs).

    We need to be close in FTA, Rose will huge obviously but Butler also has to be aggressive. He had 10 FTA in Game 1 vs Miami last year, but only 11 total the next 4- that won't cut it.

    But we were +17 in rebounding vs the Heat in last year's playoffs, obviously we have to keep that up as well. Asik's defense shouldn't be missed as long as Noah gives us 37-38 minutes in a Miami series. We need the offense, though, and IMOH we couldn't afford to play Asik and Noah at the same time.

    With the Heat not usually playing a center, I think we need to give Noah and Taj basically all the center minutes vs Miami, and we need all the offense we can get at PF. As long as LeBron is out there at PF, we need to have Deng or Butler going against him. And if they want to go Wade/Battier/LeFlop at 2/3/4, we can easily go Butler/Dunleavy/Deng against them, since Dunleavy can guard Battier and that gives us our most potent 2/3/4 combo IMHO.


    I love our chances. And we can put Kirk out there instead of MDJ and have a monster defense and not lose much shooting. And if Andersen is out there instead of Bosh, put in Taj.

    I'm actually excited for the first time to be able to surround a Rose/Noah pick and roll with shooters like Dunleavy, Butler, Hinrich... but Deng and Rose need to hit at least somewhere in the 35% range from behind the arc for us to score enough to beat Miami.

    Finally, I'm just as amped as you are to see Mirotic over here taking Boozer's place. Rose/Butler/Deng/MDJ/Mirotic is a downright scary offensive lineup that very few 5-man combos in the league will have an answer for.

  • Just my 2-cents on beating the Heat:

    1--Taj is a key. He can play with Noah, or without..,but unless one of those guys scores well, it puts too much pressure on the other 3 players on the court. I say this vs. Miami, not the bottom 1/2 of the league. We're fine then, most games. But against Miami, you gotta be more balanced to beat them in a 7-game series.

    Now, the new powerhouse on the block, is Indaina. Brooklyn may be good..,but Indiana is good. And different from Miami. There scoring is more balanced than we were last year. But.., 2 points of optimism.

    1--Rose is back..,and that's a 20+ point a game guy.

    2--Taj just gotta be better than last year.. (I keep saying over and over) we payed him to continue to get a little better..,and he got a little worse.

    Team health + the above 2 points will be the Keys.


  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    It puts too much pressure on the other 3 guys when 2 of them are Luol "not big game James"(worthy for you youngins) and the assorted pu pu platter of scrubs that we have run out at 2 guard.

  • Just a thought... if we're all gearing up to beat Miami, the question of the early rounds remains.New York, Brooklyn,Indiana and Chicago will probably playing for the chance to meet the Heat. How does Jo stack up against Hibbert, Lopez and Chandler? That said, I don't think you're upgrading on Jo any time soon, so we'd best be built around his skills too...

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