Chicago Bulls stifled by Miami Heat defense

For a few minutes, the Chicago Bulls looked awfully good. They build up a 9-2 lead, a lead which should have been 12-2 except for one of the most egregiously awful charge calls you'll ever see against Jimmy Butler. The call forced Bulter out of the game and discounted an open three.

[Haslem slides over to draw a charge while Butler is jumping away from the basket, a ridiculous time to call a charge, but the replay shows that not only did Haslem not have one foot set, he didn't have either foot set when Butler jumped and his body hadn't even stopped moving towards Butler when contact was made, the Bulls had a three in the air that swished through the hoop when the call was made].

That call may have changed the nature of the game. It should have been three more points for Chicago or a second foul on Haslem sending him to the bench instead of Butler. Would it have made a difference? Would the Bulls have kept momentum if they hadn't had to send Butler to the bench early?

Probably not. It'd be disingenuous to imply the officials stole this game from the Bulls.

The Heat lambasted the Bulls in game that wasn't nearly so close as it seemed like it might get at the end. The Miami Heat simply got up by 25 points and put the game on cruise control. Chicago worked their way back into the game, but if Miami hadn't earned a large lead they would have likely never let up on the gas in the first place.

No, the Bulls were thoroughly drubbed by the Heat and quite a few flaws were revealed.

You can't win if you can't hit a jumper

If I added them up right, the Bulls were 11-44 on jump shots. That's just 25%.

Quite simply, you can't win shooting the ball like that.

What's scariest for the Bulls is Derrick Rose. If you look at his shot chart, he appears to have morphed into Eric Gordon. He's got a ton of shots at the hoop and a ton of three point attempts and nothing in between.

His mid range game is gone. He didn't even attempt a single mid range jump shot all game long. He hasn't been attempting them in preseason either. I hate the long two. Hate it. However, the real mid range shot is one Derrick needs in his arsenal. He needs that step back shot.

He needs to drive into defenders, get them reeling, then pull up and knock down 12-15 footers.

That should be bread and butter. Haven't seen it in preseason, didn't see it last night. That's what scares me most about this game.

However, beyond the lack of mid-range jumpers, Rose was just 1-7 from beyond the arc, and the Bulls were 7-26 as a team. Granted, they launched three 40+ foot heaves that probably shouldn't count, but 7-23 isn't exactly lighting it up either.

Deng and Rose combined for 1-12 from beyond the arc, and that more or less was the game.

Jimmy Butler quietly kicked some ass

It was difficult to notice because the Bulls were suffering an epic beat down for most of the game, but this is why that horrific call against Butler hurt the Bulls so much.

Jimmy Butler gave the Bulls offense.

In 30 minutes he scored 16 points on 6/12 from the field 2/4 from beyond the arc (and one of those misses was an end of quarter heave) and six of seven from the free throw line. He had the athleticism and enough ball handling to break through Miami's pressure defense. Something Dunleavy and Deng both struggled mightily with.

It might have been a different game had Butler played an additional 8-10 minutes, or maybe not. However, he was one of the few bright spots for Chicago.

Carlos Boozer 27, rest of Bulls 29

That flashed on the score board as the Bulls sat stuck on 58 points. This is what the Bulls need from Carlos when everyone else is playing well. It's a shame to waste the effort in a loss, because Boozer scored all over the Heat.

Also, if you weren't paying attention, Boozer's defense was pretty solid inside as well. It's a bit early to jump on the Boozer bandwagon after three years of not really being a difference maker, but you couldn't ask for a better start from Boozer.

The Bulls 25% on jumpers drops down to 20% if you remove Boozer's attempts from the list. That's simply pathetic for the rest of the team, but it was as much as you could ever ask of Carlos to do.

Is this the last time I can say "At least the knee looked good"?

As noted above, Derrick's outside game was crap, his mid range game didn't even make an appearance, but at least his knee looks good. He drove to the basket a ton, finished quite a few inside shots, and was robbed on what should have been at least another six free throw attempts.

Maybe Rose could have finished 4-12 for 17 points if he got a few of the whistles he deserved, but it wouldn't have helped him take away his five turnovers or paltry four assists [though that was as much on the rest of the Bulls missing shots as it was on Rose].

Derrick looked explosive. He looked like he was physically in MVP form. However, his basketball game looks like it still has plenty of rust, and he'd better rediscover that mid range game quick or he'll be a hell of a lot easier to cover even if he does have a three point shot.

Lieutenant Dang-it

Luol Deng couldn't connect on much of anything, and his 0-5 performance from beyond the arc wasn't doing the Bulls many favors. Miami blitzed him when he had the ball, and Deng struggled to dribble out of the trap or even pass out of it.

He turned the ball over three times, and he simply didn't look like he could contribute anything meaningful on offense at all in this game.

Four points.

That what the Bulls got out of Luol Deng on offense, and quite simply, that's not going to get it done. His defense was solid, his replacements were worse, but the Bulls simply need quite a bit more out of Luol Deng.

Mike Dunleavy, your free pass ended Monday

Dunleavy shot the ball like crap most of preseason. I've been willing to give him a pass due to his history as a shooter. We know Mike Dunleavy jr can shoot. Well, now the games count. Now he has to make them. To his credit, he finished 2/4 from beyond the arc, but he missed all his shots while the game was still a game.

Beyond the fact that Dunleavy couldn't hit the broad side of a barn for most of the night, the Heat attacked him on both ends of the court similar to how they'd attack Korver. The Bulls looked hopeless while Dunleavy was in the game, and they put so much pressure on him when he had the ball that it scared you.

I expect he'll improve, but he's going to need to start proving it on the court.

The bench sunk the team

Taj Gibson was really the only player to play well on the second unit. His defense was Taj like, and he scored 10 on eight shots while dishing out three assists with no turnovers. He added eight boards as well. It wasn't the best game of Gibson's career, he was three inches away from posterizing Anderson and instead had an embarrassing missed dunk, but Gibson was solid.

That's about all you could say. The team was simply destroyed while Butler and Deng sat. Kirk Hinrich played 29 minutes, and the Bulls were lambasted on the floor for almost all of them.

Tony Snell made an appearance for seven minutes and managed to miss all three of his open jumpers [do people now believe me when I say this guy's got a long way to go and wonder why I doubt him?] and gave up a three point play to LeBron on defense [in fairness, why was Tony Snell iso'd on LeBron seven feet from the basket?]

Nazr Mohammed made an appearance for five rather ineffectual minutes as well, but for the most part, the Bulls only really played Hinrich/Gibson significant minutes off the bench.

The Bulls need more.

Joakim Noah logged just 20 minutes

The groin is obviously still an issue, because Noah didn't play all that much despite 11 boards, two blocks, two steals, and two assists in his 20 minutes.

He did look fairly hopeless on offense, though it was amusing when the announcers attributed a missed dunk to "rust" while the slow mo close up replay reveals the Heat just blatantly grabbed his arm and ripped it away in the middle of the shot causing him to lose control of the ball.

Still, Noah seemed to struggle with the Heat's physicality defensively. They bumped him every time he touched the ball, and he didn't look comfortable driving or making plays. His passing was off, and he sailed one about 20 feet out of bounds and 10 feet too high for Carlos Boozer while trying to lob it in over the defense.

We'll have to hope it was rust rather than a sore groin, but hopefully the Bulls truly rest Noah if he needs it rather then letting this injury linger otherwise.

It could have been worse... I guess

The important thing is not to overreact to one game. The Bulls showed some positives which will help them play Miami later in the season. Jimmy Butler looked awfully legit, and the Bulls starting lineup looked like they could do some damage.

Joakim Noah was obviously still far away from where he should be later on, and Derrick may have all his explosiveness back, but he obviously doesn't have his full game back yet. In short, the Bulls showed why they might compete even though they really didn't.

That said, this was far from Miami's best punch as well. LeBron barely even attempted to put his stamp on the game. When the teams meet again I'm confident the Bulls will bring quite a bit more to the table, but I think the Heat had plenty left in the tank if needed as well.

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  • Wow, that was depressing.

    Butler was solid and he fits well with what the Bulls need. A decent scorer and showed the needed outside shooting touch and athleticism. He'll be a great 2-way player.

    Boozer also solid.

    Other than that, this was terrible. Terrible officiating. Deng and Noah were atrocious. Hopefully there were not set backs with the groin, so maybe that's a positive. I knew Noah would be bad because he generally is after injury - like the Nets game 1 game last year.

    Deng is another story. The refs took him out of the game, yes, but still he looked like he didn't belong. There is no way he will get anywhere close to $10 mil/year playing like this. The Bulls need another wing that can score like Butler. Deng and Dunleavy clearly are not the answers.

    Snell is terrible. I was holding out hope for him even though he has been ok at best. But, this was all I needed to see. Send him to D league for the season and bring him back next year.

    Is there a SG/SF available to replace Deng? I don't want to lose Mirotich or the Charlotte pick, either. Can we get a 1st for him in next year's stacked draft? A future first? Anything would be nice because he is a liability on offense.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Any team looking to trade for an expensive expiring Luol would be one of those teams who are looking to make the playoffs (CLE, DET, WAS, NOP, etc).

    No bad/tanking team would, they have no use for that since he would leave at the end of the year, unless they paid him the most to stay (which they could do in FA already).

    And then what would you get back for Deng? Most likely a multi-year contract or two which kills any cap space you planned on having.

  • The perimeter vuys are going to have to step up if the Bulls are to have a good season. Rose only had 12 points but but he can't do it alone. Boozer did what he could and so did Butler. Deng and Dunleavy were no shows. Back to my argument that the Bulls offense stinks and someone need to learn to hit jumpers.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    The lack of jumpers was really disturbing. 1-12 from the three point line out of Deng/Rose. That was your game right there really. Say those two go 4/12 and hit just 33%, the Bulls are now in the game at the end.

  • I hate injustice, and lousy/biased refs are an injustice to the game. Stern has repeatedly said that players/coaches who complain about the refs are disrespecting the game. No, a league that tolerates this garbage is disrespecting both the game and also the fans. Without the fans and their money, the NBA does not exist. We could change this -- stop buying tickets or watching until they fix it!

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Blaming the officiatiating is for losers. Give it up!

  • In reply to RichG:

    Look no one is blaming the refs, but if your a Bulls fan, as most people on this site are likely to be, the refs were biased and bad last night. The NBA is the easiest of the professional sports for the refs to influence, they can easily take away one teams aggression while allowing the others. The Bulls stunk last night, but the refs weren't that much better.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    It definitely felt like the Heat got into the officials heads prior to tip off.

  • A couple years ago, one could say with some certainty that while the Heat's top three guys were clearly superior to the Bulls' top three guys (however defined), the Bulls were much better in the 4-8 range. That kept the Bulls competitive. I don't think that can be said anymore. The Heat has definitely strengthened its depth, while the Bulls depth has stayed relatively constant.

    I'm hoping last night was just an affirmation of the old adage that "role players shine at home, but disappear on the road". If not, and the Heat depth is even with, or superior to, the Bulls depth, then there is little hope for the Bulls against the Heat, absent an injury to LBJ.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    Good point, I think that the Heats bench has definitely surpassed the Bulls bench over the past 2 seasons, in both quality and depth. Asik may not be Hibbert on offense, but it sure felt like we could have used his size on defense with the second unit, especially with Noah limited.

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    In reply to BigWay:

    I think Pat Riley is the key. He gets his second line players to all play very aggressive. He knows the refs won't call all the fouls. He did the same thing with the Knicks. He does't ask Wade, Bosh and LBJ to play that way - they play good D anyway and he doesn't want any foul trouble there. I really thought the NBA refereeing was much more balanced after the ref scandal and the book, but it seems to be returning to the hometown or popular team bias that it had previously. Watch when the Heat play the Knicks or the Lakers. They won't get all those calls - especially on the road. Shame they just can't call 'em as they see 'em. But that's Stern NBA Basketball. Go Blackhawks!

  • In reply to bjb57:

    The Bulls will be hoping their starters are catching up to the Heat starters as Wade and Bosh seem to have declined some, however, I don't think that's happened by any stretch.

    Of course the problem is that it's just really, really hard to match Miami's talent, and the Bulls can't attack the Heat's biggest weakness [inside post defense] easily unless we trust Boozer.

    Boozer delivered last night, but I don't think anyone believes he'll do that in the playoffs.

  • the bench was terrible just like most of preseason and the bulls still can't figure out the heat defense and guys like haslem and battier sit around waiting to take charges.....KYP. The Bulls look lost on offense and this has to be partly on thibodeau, last year the Bulls were one of the worst perimeter shooting teams and the coach has to put defense aside some and start running offense drills cuz God knows they badly need it.

    The Bulls dodged a bullet by not giving Deng his 14 million a year he's looking for. The reality is Butler is the future small foward(his natural position) and the Bulls need to go out and try to get a scoring two guard who can also handle the ball. It seems like its the same old problems that plague the Bulls over and over again. Also I was afraid losing Nate Robinson(a perfect bench scorer) was going to hurt us and it has, thats another thing we're badly missing. Throw in Asik or a good defensive backup center as well. This Bulls team is not as good as the 2010-12 team, no way. The only upgrade was Butler, everything else is the same or downgraded.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    It will be tough to find a SG that is dynamic enough, but fits under the salary cap. I think the answer may be to find a combo guard that is a bit undersized, but much more dynamic offensively.

    If you can find that guy and put him next to Rose, with Butler, Boozer (Gibson/Mirotich next year) at the 4 and Noah at the 5, that's money.

    That type of player has to be available somewhere in the league. I'd throw Deng plus a future first or two to make it happen - depending on who the Bulls get back.

    I've been a Deng defender, but last night was eye-opening. His deficiencies were on full display.

  • In reply to Granby:

    First, its only one game so lets not panic yet. With that said, In my opinion the problem is not with our perimeter players its with our Bigs. The way you beat the Heat is by punishing them down low a la Pacers or going insane from the 3. As good as Noah is he isn't a post player and Boozer is just an oversized SF. If possible, I would like to see the Bulls try to pry Aldridge away from the Blazers. He would be the perfect player with the type of inside outside game that will keep the Heat honest and prevent them from trapping DRose the way they do.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Despite the Bulls, Indy and Memphis generally winning the defensive stat wars over the past few years, I have always contended that Miami has the best defense when they are motivated to play it. Last night was one of those nights, just like the playoffs are everynight.

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    In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Yep!

  • Good point, everybody. It's depressing to see the Heat still get calls ... and Battier still hit corner 3s. But I hope for a brighter day, as this Bulls team just needs to get on the same page. Noah hasn't played all preseason, Deng is still coming back from that botched spinal tap, and even Butler hardly played in preseason because of his bruised knee ... and, oh, Rose hasn't played in a regular season game in 15 months!

    That being said, the starting 5 will become dominant soon ... and be the best starting 5 in the NBA, IMO. The question, however, is can the bench score enough ... or even defend. I'm worried. Gibson and Hinrich are solid, but Dunleavy looked shakey ... Teague didn't play ... and Snell shouldn't have played.

  • Great article Doug. What about Butler's defense? The dude had 5 steals and made Wade look pedestrian on a couple of plays. That was the most rewarding part of the game for me, because I don't see Boozer being consistant against the Heat in a 7 game series. If Butler keeps it up, I don't care if the Bulls are Dengless next year, we need to keep him at the starting 2 spot.

  • I wasn't going to bring it up given the disaster that was the rest of the game, but since you start out your post with a significant commentary on the "alleged" Butler offensive foul, I can't help but vent. I was livid after that call, rewound and rewatched it several times. While the refs blew the call, guess who directly caused the foul to be called on Butler. You guessed it, everyones hero of the game, the BozoHole. I knew something was up when the Hole was shown going up to Butler and appoligizing to him immediately after the foul call. The Hole as he loves to do, 2 hand shoved Haslem directly into Bulters path causing the foul to be called. It should have been a foul on the Hole, but the refs didn't catch his bullshit play. The Hole was also directly responsible for Butlers first foul, when his idiotic attempt at an outlet pass(one of his favorite plays) was intercepted and Butler was forced to commit a foul in the backcourt to prevent and easy bucket. Thus Jimmy Buckets was forced to the bench with less than 4 minutes gone in the game totally as a result of the asinine plays of the Hole. Just 2 examples of the little ways that the Hole kills you all game long where most people aren't even watching. The game turned shortly thereafter with Deng picking up his third foul and Rose going to the bench for his first rest.

    Like I said, it probably doesn't make a difference for the game, given all the other problems that the Bulls displayed, but since Doug focused on that play, I had to give my take on that play irregardless of its impact on the game as a whole, or is it the BozoHole.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I hate seeing starters commit intentional fouls to prevent easy buckets. Fouls are way more important than the 1 point or so they may save on that possession.

  • I still think it's way to early to say Snell is terrible. It was his first NBA game, against the best team on the planet, with the most athletic wings & best recovery defense. 0/3 from 3pt is obviously a small sample size. We can't expect much of anything from him this year, but he has the potential to be what Bill Simmons would call a TDA player, one that can shoot the 3, defend, and bring some athleticism. I like his shooting form even if it's a slow release. The only thing troubling with him in my eyes is his lack of aggression, and my hope is that it stems from a lack of confidence & that it can be improved, but not sure on that. But I'm giving him some time, and would like to see him continue to get time for his development. If Deng goes they'll need him.

    I would like to see more Teague next time against the Heat. He's one of only 3 players that can penetrate. We were sorely missing Nate last night.

    Noah looks out of shape, nothing more. That can't be understated for an energy player.

    Rust, early foul trouble, defending the 3 line, and missed shots were the story of the game. All will improve, except maybe the fouls, reminds one of the Heat playoff series in 2011. Can't wait for December 5th!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    More Marquis Teague? Really? Do you know anything about basketball? The last thing the Bulls needed last night was a weak, D League talent turning the ball over left and right.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    Next time. Why not try him if you go almost a full quarters worth of play barely scoring at all. Do you think the result would have been worse?

  • Yeah, agree with pretty much everything in the article and most of what has already been posted.

    However, the complete and utter lack of defense by the Bulls last night was particularly alarming. Miami's shooters had wide open looks all game long. They will get better as the key guys like Jimmy, Derrick and Jo get more comfortable and into a rhythm.

    And yes, Dunleavy looked horrid but he is a better player than that.

    Also somewhat scary is the Bulls lack of quality depth at basically every position besides power forward and maybe small forward if a starter goes down. Bench could be ok, but is a little top heavy. I don't know what we should expect to get from anybody besides a better (hopefully) Kirk, Taj and Dunleavy.

  • We needed Nate Robinson and not Kirk Hinrich last night. Second ball-handler/attacker/scorer. I'm going to have that feeling a lot this season and into the postseason.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    You definitely will. Players always look better when they're not here than when they are.

  • Well, Well, Well, I guess that we are not in the preason anymore, Dorothy.

    Doug thought that Taj played well or O.K. at least. Like everybody else, he couldn't hit his jumper last night, but what really bothered me was his inability to do anything against Battier. I was watching him fairly closely while he was going up against Battier, and he was getting killed physically and mentally by Battier being Battier. Very disappointed that Taj couldn't overcome his tactics. There are many who didn't think much of the Battier signing with Maimi, but he has clearly been a difference maker for them, and would have been a great addition to this Bulls team had they pursued him(and had he been dumb enough to sign with us). He is kind of like a gentlemanly version of Dennis Rodman with 3 point shooting.

    Taj has to develop a lot more mental toughness and give up the whining in order to live up to his contract.

    Quote from Doug,

    "That flashed on the score board as the Bulls sat stuck on 58 points. This is what the Bulls need from Carlos when everyone else is playing well. It's a shame to waste the effort in a loss, because Boozer scored all over the Heat".

    Isn't that what he always does, shines in garbage time, which this entire game was from the point that the Bulls led 15-10 and Rose went to the bench.

    I'm with Doug on Butler being the highlight of the game, at least when the Hole wasn't trying to foul him out of it.

    I'm also with Doug on Dunleavy being on a short leash to the dog house. If he keeps this up for very long, he is getting a new nickname, Dudleavy. He looked really passive out there, don't know if that is his nature, or if he is still feeling out his place with his new teammates. He has got to kick it up a notch or 2 or 3 intensity wise.

    Hangdog was what Hangdog is, a non factor, Snell looked like a nervous rookie who shot 42% in college. and Deng looked like a fake 2 time allstar and fake second team all defensive player, pretty much like he looks everytime that he goes up against the Heat.

    I can live with Rose's poor showing on offense for one game, but he looked rookie like on D. He simply couldn't keep up with Chalmers or Cole all game. In fact he had a harder time sticking them that they did him, although, they had a lot more help.

    Noah was about what I expected decent on D, but lost on offense. It does always seem to take him a few games to get his O back after missing time for an injury. Doug was right, and the announcers who basically don't really pay attention anyway were clueless on Noah's missed dunk, as he was clearly fouled by Bosh? as he went up for and missed that Dunk, even if it was his fault for taking 10 minutes to gather himself for it.

    Oh well, just one game, 81 to go, can't over react yet, hope we look a lot better against the Knicks.

  • When the Heat signed Battier, I called out Sam Smith, who criticized the signing. I would not compare Battier to Rodman. Totally different players. Battier is more comparable to Bruce Bowen.

  • The Bulls will have a good season barring any major injuries and they will beat the Heat once or twice this year during the regular but...the Bulls are going to have to find a formula to beat the Heat come playoff time if they meet. I don't know what they can do at this point because they let some offensive spark plugs go this past season in Nate and Marco that i persona dont think that they replaced in the Dunleavy signing. Some teams will be looking to position themselves for next years draft and to get under the tax and Deng should be an asset on the trading block. Boston, Philly, and Orlando should be prime candidates to possibly ship Deng to. He just needs to go cause imo there's nothing else there with him as a player on this Bulls team.

  • The Bulls no doubt didn't play well. Their two best players on paper - Rose and Noah - both struggled as you note. But I think they still could have got a result out of the game. I feel the loss is on the coaching orthodoxy that says you pull your players when they're in foul trouble.

    Butler: 30 minutes, +10, 4 fouls.
    Deng: 29 minutes, +6, 4 fouls.

    If those players played 10 extra minutes the Bulls might have won the game. Could they do that extra 10 minutes without picking up the 2 fouls that would have fouled them out? Probably, especially in Deng's case since Deng is very very rarely in foul trouble, he wouldn't lead the league in MPG if he was a player who couldn't stop himself from fouling.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Interesting analysis.

  • Its hard for me to hold my tongue.

    I can't disagree with most of what has been said. But I'll wait till after the game vs. the Knicks.

    I do have a few fears.

    Dunleavy looks slow. I believe he is smart..,just looks slow.

    Refs WILL make a difference in certain games. How many we win anyway is of interest to me. Certainly not last nite.

    Spoelstra can coach with Thibs. (No way a knock on Thibs)..I just don't think we have an advantage in that matchup.

  • Not a good game. Not really a shocker either. Way too early to worry overall. And I dont think I'll get on the trade Deng now bus just yet :-)

    Let's see what this team looks like in a a few weeks to a month once they've actually had time to play with each other for many games. I think that was the first game that starting lineup played together this season...I wonder if they'll get better....hmmmm???

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