Spurs show the blueprint on how to beat the Heat

Spurs show the blueprint on how to beat the Heat

It's easy, just be damn good on both ends of the floor. While many will discuss how unselfish the Spurs are. How they pass the ball relentlessly give up the good shot to get the great shot, their offense really comes down to one thing.

Everyone on the floor is a multiple threat player. Everyone gives you either defense and one offensive skill or multiple offensive skills.

They always have at least two very good three point shooters on the floor, frequently three.

They always have at least two guys who can score in the post.

They always have at least two guys who can put the ball on the floor.

Oh yeah, and everyone can pass.

The Bulls actually mimic the Spurs offense. They pass the ball relentlessly looking for the great shot. The problem is they don't have the shooters, ball handlers, or post presence guys to finish. When the Bulls make the extra pass it doesn't land in the hands of someone who can beat you in multiple ways.

It frequently lands in the hand of someone who can't beat you at all unless he's got no one to beat because the passing led to a wide open opportunity.

It means a good defense can beat the Bulls by forcing pedestrian shooters to shoot threes or close out on shooters and force them to drive. It's easy to take the Bulls out of their comfort zone, because there aren't multiple threat players, and Chicago certainly can't hurt you from all over the floor like San Antonio.

"Spurs basketball" isn't just about passing more or playing the right way. It's about having tons of versatile offensive talent on the floor too. Something Tom Thibodeau, Gar Forman, and John Paxson all need to remember.

The Bulls haven't done the best job of getting offensive talent, but Tom Thibodeau has also refused to play the offensive talent as much as he could. Why did Kyle Korver's minutes rise by 10 per game in Atlanta while Keith Bogans was still logging 15 minutes per game in Chicago? Why was Jimmer Fredette completely nailed to the bench?

Both the front office and head coach need to make some adjustments to get over the hump on the offensive side of the ball. Getting some star offensive talent would be big. Getting a healthy Derrick Rose would be huge, but beginning to consider playing role players who can create/shoot even if they aren't candidates for an all defensive team is mandatory as well.


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  • Good post, Doug. I have long thought that a team needs three attributes to beat the Heat.

    1. A strong rebounding advantage.
    2. Multiple competent three-point shooters on the floor.
    3. Athletic wing men who can defend.

    Against the Heat the Bulls can provide 1 and partially provide 3, but come nowhere close to providing 2. So the Bulls have some regular season success against the Heat but then disappear come playoff time. The other thing to note is that, assuming my analysis is somewhat correct, Derrick Rose doesn't really provide any of those three components. If the Bulls had multiple three point shooters on the floor then they could take advantage of Rose's ability to penetrate and kick out, but they don't, so they can't.

    The 2011 ECFs were eye-opening. Late in close games the Heat took away Rose's dribble drive game and smothered Korver so much that he couldn't even receive a pass. That was all the Heat needed to do because those were the only two options the Bulls had. As Doug points out, the Spurs have many more options, not because the Spurs are loaded with superstars but because all five guys on the floor at any one time are fairly competent offensively (just don't pass the ball to Splitter!!!).

    The Heat have traditionally been great defensively (though they have looked like statues in this series). To exploit what few openings the Heat give a team, it needs to be able to swing the ball to the third, fourth, even fifth option and have that guy be able to put up a reasonable shot. I don't know if it is personnel or coaching, or likely some of both, but the Bulls really haven't had that and I would argue that they didn't even have that back in the 2011 ECFs, when they were relatively healthy.

    The good news I suppose is that the East looks like it may be even more mediocre than we thought, which means fielding a team that can get to the NBA finals doesn't require a radical make-over. But even if the Heat's best days are behind them, the Bulls still have a ways to go to get to their level.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    bjb - yes, 2011 ECF was the blueprint for how NOT to play offense against Miami: Slow the pace by walking the ball up the court so that the Heat can set up their defense and have D.Rose over-dribble so that he can be double-teamed to death.

    Otherwise, the Bulls had the wings and rounding!

    I'm envious of the Spurs offensive style, as I've stated the last few days. A Bulls team with Love, or without, could construct such a team. Not sure about with Carmelo, as he's a ball stopper and would need to change his ways.

    Rose should be an improved shooter. Butler is better than he showed this season - probably somewhere in between his last two seasons. Mirotic could be coming. I'd bet that they'll draft shooting and possibly sign a shooter - or trade for Love. With better shooting and faster pace and ball movement, this Bulls team can emulate the current Spurs style.

  • In reply to Granby:

    A "ball stopper" like Carmelo is exactly what the Bulls need. Most Bulls offensive possessions end with the ball in the hands of someone incapable of creating or making a shot.

    How about having Carmelo with the ball in his hands during the last 5 seconds of the shot clock instead of Butler, Gibson, Deng (rip), Noah?

  • In reply to Roscoe63:

    P.S. Melo doen't need to change a thing if he chooses Chicago.

  • In reply to Roscoe63:

    In other words, the Bulls become the anti-Spurs. Instead of passing the ball until you find the open shooter, everyone stands still and gives the ball to Melo. Worked great in New York.

  • In reply to sfpaper:

    I'll momentarily entertain your red herring "everyone stands still and gives the ball to Melo" argument with a counter point.

    It worked great in Chicago during the Jordan era.

    Getting back to the real point. If you watch the game of basketball, esp the Chicago Bulls over the past four years, clearly the Bulls offense consists of Derrick Rose weaving through traffic, twisting, turning, torquing, until a shot is created.

    Without Rose the Bulls offense consists of passing the ball until they find an open man (not shooter) who heaves the ball at the basket and hopes Noah or Gibson grabs the rebound and put it back in.

    In case you haven't noticed, Popovich isn't coaching the Bulls, so the same unimaginative and stagnant offensive sets should be expected and Carmelo Anthony is clearly the best available option to help Rose put points on the board for Thibodeau's ... er, offense.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    I disagree on one point. The Bulls always had capable three point shooters who were nailed to the bench during the Thibodeau era. First one who comes to mind is the Butler (not Jimmy) dude on bench mob #1 and currently Jimmer.

    I remember a playoff game against Indiana where the Bulls were down a basket with only seconds remaining and Thibodeau still didn't put Butler in the game. Instead, Boozer had to take (and miss) the three point shot. Great coaching?

  • Exactly, "tons of versatile offensive talent". Which is why adding Melo is the wrong move. The Spurs have at least 4 players on the floor capable of creating offense for themselves and others. If the Bulls add Melo we would have 2 players capable of that.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    Isn't 2 better than 1? Isn't adding Melo a step (the best step) in the right direction?

  • Starting with one of the 10 best players to ever play and perhaps the best coach ever definitely gives the Spurs a significant advantage over every other team. They have tons of versatile offensive talent that also plays great defense -- these guys are extremely hard to find but the Spurs take guys and develop them into that. Kawhi was a lousy shooter when they drafted him, now he's a very good shooter.

    That's a great analysis of what the Bulls lack. What do you do, though? Get rid of Noah, Taj and Jimmy? I will say this, you're not going to be a great offensive team with those guys as 60% of your starting lineup even if Rose and say, Melo, are your other starters. Maybe they need to blow it up and start over.

    I say LeBron opts out this summer and joins the Spurs so he can win more championships. It's gotten too difficult for him.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Just to illustrate how dead on Doug is, is a quote by LeBron:

    "It's tough, because you have to cover the ball first, but also those guys on the weak side can do multiple things. They can shoot the ball from outside, they can also penetrate. So our defense is geared toward running guys off the 3-point line, but at the same time, those guys are getting full-steam ahead and getting to the rim, too."

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Interesting that you brought up Duncan, after game 3 I started thinking about the Bulls pursuit a second or even third superstar, and you 1A/1B proposition from a couple of days ago.

    One can easily argue that at this point in their careers the Spurs don't have any 1A guys and maybe not even any 1B guys. Duncan obviously was a 1A guy for most of his career, but not now. Parker was at his best a 1B guy but likely not now. Manu at his peak, wasn't a 1B either as he was mostly a super 6th man. Leonard hasn't been a 1B guy up to this point and can't be considered one after 2 good games, preceded by 2 bad games.

    The Spurs are the ultimate team of role players running a system and playing theirs roles to perfection. The are certainly proving that there is more than one way to build a championship team. That and Miami has mostly lost all the invaluable contributions that its role players made in winning the last 2 titles.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Parker is a 1B IMO at least right now, but I still agree with the general gist of what you're saying.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Tony Parker is damn good! And he does not experience the "ceiling" some players hit when they get deep into the playoffs. Parker can compete against anyone at any level and can hurt an opponent in multiple ways.

    For some reason Parker has been overshadowed his whole career by Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, etc., even Eva Longoria. Yet, who else among them has a Finals MVP award like Parker does?

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I agree that Parker is the toughest call and best player right now. I just wonder is he held in the same regard as an individual player as the guys that are consensus 1B's, Paul, Westbrook, Melo, Love, maybe Howard & Hardin. some people might consider some of those guys 1A, maybe, I would not.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    The biggest key to winning with a team like San Antonio is a head coach who wisely utilizes the hand he's dealt, i.e the bench.

    Chicago doesn't have that type of head coach.

    Patty Mills would've been buried just as deep as Jimmer on Thibodeau's bench.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Worth nothing that Tim Duncan is awfully far away from one of the 10 best players to ever play right now though.

    He's not a top 10 player in the NBA right now. The Spurs best player is either Parker or Kawhi, and I don't think either is a top 10 guy.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Tim Duncan in his prime was a top 10 player of all time - the guy could literally do it all. Lebron, while a true great player, could not handle Jordan's status at anytime.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Sure Tim Duncan is not the same player as in his prime. However, he is still one of the better bigs in the NBA. Perhaps in part due to the decline/lack of quality bigs in the NBA currently.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    After thinking about it, you and others have me convinced me that the Spurs are not winning due to superior top-end talent, maybe compared to the Bulls but certainly not Miami or OKC, and the Spurs beat/are beating both. They just have a superior FO, coach and system to probably every team in the NBA, one of the best ever in that regard. Have to give Pops and Buford their due. Wish we had them, they make our guys and almost everyone else's guys look bad by comparison.

  • I hope this ends the LeBron is greater than MJ talk once and for all (Boers/Bernstein). I don't recall Jordan's Bulls getting blown out in back to back home games in the finals.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    Yes, and LeBron looked like the 2011 Finals LeBron version last night - trying to get rid of the ball as soon as he could on several occasions. If it were not for a few 3-pointers, he would have been as bad as Wade.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    It would also make him 2-3 in the Finals.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    The LBJ vs MJ talk will resurface again if LBJ ever has a shot to win the title again. This is sort of the anti-2011 finals though. In 2011, LeBron let them down, this year, every one else is letting LeBron down.

    Can't really blame LeBron much for this performance.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Jordan NEVER lost a finals series. End of discussion.

  • My biggest takeaway from this series so far is that teams don't need to have two or three superstars in order to win. It would be nice, but a team that is a real team can win. I think one could argue that the Spurs don't have any superstars. Duncan is one of the greats of all time, but right now he is a little above average. Same with Ginobli. Parker is their best player, but I don't consider him to be a superstar. That is why I don't feel like if the Bulls don't get Melo and Love that all is lost. They can still build a team and let it develop.
    While I agree that Korver should have played more, please stop with the Jimmer talk. He can't guard anyone! I think teams can get away with bigs that can't guard (Boozer) because they can still take up space and rebound. A guard, though, can't do that. If a pg can't stay with his man or stay in front of his man, it breaks down the rest of the defense. The Spurs play guys that are good on offense, but nobody at the guard positions are bad defensively. They all pressure the ball or are quick enough to cause the other team to work, they all know how to switch. They may not be all-defensive players, but they all play great team defense. The only players that may be bad defensively are guys like Bonner or some of the deep bench guys who don't play much or guard bigger opponents. In the end, I still think it is about defense. The Heat are losing not because of bad offense (last night was bad but other games were good), but because they can't guard anything the Spurs are doing. The Heat have just as many shooters and playmakers as San Antonio, they just don't have a defense to stop them.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    I follow your argument but you're still talking about a team with two Hall of Famers, one of whom is among the best 5-10 players to ever play the game, another borderline HOFer in Ginobli, and an emerging superstar in Leonard. I get it that Duncan, Parker and Ginobli are past their prime but they're still capable of reaching levels that few NBA players can reach, at least in spurts.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    Thinking the same thing myself(see above). However, the take away is that we still need to acquire more offensive talent or overall 2 way talent.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    I think the opposite. It's much easier to get away with a guard who can't defend because he doesn't have a lot of help defense responsibilities.

    A big man is typically needed to guard multiple positions on the floor at once.

    I don't think Patty Mills can guard anyone, but he still fits fine for the Spurs. Gary Neil couldn't guard anyone, but he fit in as well.

  • Did anyone else think that Labron looked very passive last night? I know he had the big third quarter scoring 19, but he only had 9 for the rest of the night. It just seemed very odd that he would play that way at this point. I don't believe in the notion that he was afraid of the moment, he has played huge in big moments before. A real head scratcher to me.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    Pa - he's done this before... 2010 ECF against the C's where he was so passive that folks thought he lost on purpose so that he could bail on Cleveland and sign with Miami.

    2011 against Dallas was pretty horrific for LeBron.

    2013 over the first 5 games was a disaster for LeBron and you can include the first 3 quarters of game 6. The Spurs lost that series last year and we can all see that they were clearly the better team now.

    LeBron has a history of passive play in key moments. It's not just making "the right basketball pass" to the open man in crunch time, but not running back on D and not closing on defensively on 3 point shooters.

    I think we all scratch our head about LeBron... why he won't surpass Mike. Jordan may have shot 7-26 in big games, but he left it all on the court.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I agree. It seems like there are times when he just grows weary of trying to carry a team. He doesn't check out all the time, of course, as there have been many times when he did put a team on his back, but every once in awhile he just kind of goes AWOL.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I think that this is where Lebron's size(wieght) works against him. He just cannot muster the furious effort that Jordan was able to for the entire game. He has to pace himself, going at it in spurts. Jordan never relented. Surely, some of it is just mental toughness, but carrying around the extra 30+ pounds can't help. Just ask Noah about the toll it takes on your body of carrying extra weight all game every game for 4 straight years.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    I agree, you wonder how LeBron just doesn't go for it more at times. Why doesn't he try to score 50-60 when no one else on his team can do anything.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Miami's problems are defense and their offensive rebounding being so crappy they're one and done nearly every trip. I don't really think their problems are correctable by LeBron shooting more. I don't think they're correctable at all really, they've built a roster with no plan B.

    LeBron will get the blame for it of course ... after the decision I can't really feel sorry for him over that ... but he's played well, there's just too many corpses that used to be basketball players around him. Honestly they should be happy Wade's body held out long enough to make 4 finals and win 2 titles, it's limped over the line for one more year than I would have guessed.

  • 31-O baby, that's the record of teams that take a 3-1 lead in the NBA finals. So if the Spurs blow this one, it will be even more monumental that last seasons choke job. Hopefully, the spirit of revenge will propel them to close it out on Sunday.

    A question for Chicago sports fans, does the Heat being prevented from a 3 peat give you more satisfaction than last seasons Hawks winning the cup. I haven't been a hockey fan since I was a kid going to games at the old stadium in the 70's so for me the Heat losing appears to be the more joyous occasion.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Tough call for me. I might say yes. The Heat losing to Dallas in 2010 definitely did. This year, my hatred has died down a bit though. I'm not a huge hockey fan, but I did enjoy the HAwks winning.

  • Why did it take Pop so long to figure out that Splitter should never be on the floor with Duncan, at least against the Heat. Any 3 year old who watched last years finals could have seen that, heck last year he(Splitter) didn't even look like he belonged in the NBA. Yet he started Splitter for the first 2 games this year, then bingo he inserts Diaw in the starting lineup and you get the only back to back 20 pt road blowouts in the history of the finals.

    I know that Diaw wasn't with the Spurs all year last season, but it makes you wonder if Pop didn't cost them last season's title by not making the Diaw/Splitter swap for the entire series. Sometimes I wonder if coaches are so myopic that they might benefit from watching the game on TV.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I think there was a case to be made to beat up Miami with Splitter and being big, but yeah, it clearly didn't work.

    I give Popovich credit for making the switch. We generally view Thibs as an elite coach, and he'd never consider it.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Which is why Thibs IS NOT an elite coach. He's good for sure, during the meaningless regular season, but clearly lacks the sophistication, wisdom, social skills, and plain head-coaching-skills (he's a career assistant, folks!) to lead a team through the ultra-marathon of the regular season and through the playoffs.

    Has any Spur played all 24 minutes of a half? It may be difficult to find any Spur playing all 12 minutes of a quarter! Just as impressive as this minutes management during the playoffs, is Pop's regular season minutes management. Pop is the King of Rest! He understands the NBA is an ultra marathon that requires far more sophistication than, "One Game at a Time, Next Man Up, Do Your Job!" Pop doesn't grind his Spurs, he preserves them!

    Thibs often references the Spurs as "the gold standard", but doesn't seem to learn from them. He's too stubborn to change.

  • In reply to Edward:

    That is exactly what I have been preaching. Can't say it better myself.

    The only thing I will add is it seems like Pop is pretty good at developing players. Danny Green, Diaw, Leonard, Patty Mills, george hill, gary neal, etc. None of them are that effective until they joined the spurs.

  • In reply to Edward:

    At what point should the word "stubborn" be replaced with more accurate words such as unreasonable, ill-equipped, UN-analytical?

  • "The Bulls(meaning Gar/Pax) haven't done the best job of getting offensive talent..."

    "And the Captain Obvious award goes to.."

    I'm kidding. Sorry Doug. The thing is, when you take guys like Patty Mills, Danny Green, and to a lesser extent Kawhi Leonard and turn them into playoffs/NBA Finals stand up dudes then you've done two things. 1) You've drafted intelligently based on spotting shooting/scoring skills that have been under valued by others. Not to mention spotting malleable basic character/competitor guys to start with. 2) You have a rare, dynamic coach who with his exceptional staff develops players to bring their talents to the forefront and sooner rather then later. Along with an excellent offensive grasp/concepts.

    And still, let's not kid ourselves; you also need stars as in two or more. Tim Duncan may not be the super star he once was, but the guy in last year's Finals scored 19ppg on 49% shooting with 12 count em' 12 reb's and shooting 82% from the line i.e late game winning gold. And Tony Parker, all he did in last year's playoffs: 20ppg 46% shooting 7 assts on only 2.5 TO's with 35% on volume threes with 78% free throws 5 plus attempts per game. That's not the Tony Parker numbers of playoffs past, but those are still star numbers to be sure.

    This year for Parker's playoffs 18ppg each but on 49% and Timmy just 16ppg but shooting 52%. Those are still stud numbers when you have two guys putting them up. And the savvy drafted Leaonard: 14ppg 50% and 40% from three on three attempts pg. Against OKC Duncan in the crucial back breaker game at OKC made just some HOF shots in the post and mid range including one killer on a double with Westbrook futilely clawing over his shoulder.

    Similar to the Spurs skilled big man brigade of Duncan, Diaw, and Splitter, Dallas pounded Miami mid range/lane and in with Dirk, Barea, and Chandler. Again, Dallas used savvy weapons others under valued. I've heard some people bag on Jason Terry as overrated and just not that good. The championship NBA Finals numbers for Jet II/Terry: 18ppg on 49% shooting. Shooting nearly 40% from three on almost 5 attempts per game. That is the shit whether you wanna admit it or not.

    Meanwhile you have the Bulls. Drafting guys like James Johnson, Teague(who unlike Leonard who actually was rated as a good/developing mid range shooter just sucked with a 43.8 2pt % out of college). And Tony wallflower Snell with some of the most damning non production college stats and scouting warnings you'll ever see for a wing. "Exasperatingly passive"

    Unlike some other posters I don't expect the Bulls to be a championship team. I just don't want a last place suck ass offense with no entertaining scoring/shooting talent. Please just bring in some offensive talents who can shoot/score and have decent attitudes/competitors/ That's it. No more Johnsons, Teagues, Snells. Adreian Payne, Cleanthony Early, C.J. Wilcox, a trade up for a Harris or Staukas. OFFENSIVE talent. Gar/Pax do you get it!? And bring Mirotic's ass over or if he doesn't want to play in the NBA by now then take his supposed top 5 lottery value and trade if for something we can actually have playing in Chicago. Oh, and have a nice day!

  • Alright apparently my post disappeared. Nice.

    Anyway the gist of it was as previously stated San Antonio when you look at the Finals numbers from last year especially and this year you do have star talent. And like Dallas with underrated guys like Jason Terry(see his Finals numbers 19ppg on 49% with 40% threes on nearly 5 a game), Barea etc. the Spurs with Leonard, Green, Mills have found valuable talent others missed on.

    As to the Bulls I don't expect them to be championship level. All I want is some offensive talent. Not Snell who scouting services warned was "exasperatingly passive," James Johnson who from the start I'm sorry but to me seemed immature and unreliable, and Teague who unlike Leonard who was rated as a good mid range and developing shooter while Teague shot 43 2 pt % at Kentucky which is awful.

    So Gar/Pax please either trade up for offensive talent in Harris, Stauskas, Hood or take Adreian Payne, Early, and Wilcox. Then if you miss at least your attempts were legit and not in vain. Thank you. And while your at it bring over Mirotic who if he doesn't want to play in the NBA by now then take his supposed top 5 lotto value and trade him for somebody who will actually come and play in Chicago. Oh, and have a nice day!

    The Bulls meanwhile .

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    sorry for double post. original post disappeared when sending thought it was lost

  • All of this makes me feel the Bulls are farther away than I wish!

    Maybe not quite so far. No one scores like Melo, tho LeBron and Durant are close. If the Bulls add Melo, Mirotic, and a decent SG, they take Miami, but that assumes that Rose comes back at 85% and Mirotic adjusts to the NBA game. Both of those seem likely, but neither are givens.

    Nor is finding a decent SG a given. Thus I would like to see the Bulls trade the #16, and their own pick next year plus the Kings pick to get up to #8 or so, That is, I would like it provided the FO then hits on the pick!

    If that happens, Melo should find the Bulls very enticing! Plenty of D in Noah, Taj, and Butler, and decent O in Melo, Rose, Mirotic, the new SG, and Taj. That should get them to the Finals next year.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Sorry to say it, but you are far too generous with #1 picks, generally giving up one more than would be prudent in most of your proposals.

    If you were GM the Bulls would be without a first round draft pick every year except for the Stepien rule, which we might have to rename the rustyw rule.

    Don't forget that the Bulls have the right to swap picks with Cleveland next year if the Cavs make the playoffs, so next years pick could be in the mid teens, not the mid or late 20's.

    I do however, agree that if the Bulls try to move up they should target the 6-9 picks and no lower, otherwise stay where we are, unless Saric drops into the lower lottery.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Look, BigWay, I respect your opinion, but think about it - what exactly have the Bulls been doing with their #1s lately? If the FO had taken Parmalee or Dieng instead of Snell, OK. Or if they had drafted Blair instead of JJ, OK. Or kept Aldridge. Or passed on Teague, altho that might have been at least a reasonable gamble.

    This FO has not exactly been finding diamonds in the rough for years. Except for Mirotic, for which they do deserve some kudos. They need to get guys who can log some minutes because Thibs will play them. That way they develop - if they can.

    You want them to move up to #8 or #9, and so do I. How? Give up Taj? I don't think so! So, it's either picks or players or some combo. What do you propose?

  • On other thing on Spurs Heat, Wade at last night's post game press conf. I'm sorry but the dude just looked like a fat cheeked old man. Seriously. I just don't think some people age well. Though up until last night's game his numbers were very good. Funny how his two obvious flops were just ignored while Spurs got dunks and f-breaks out of them. Too much. Also, while I think James likely opts in/stays with Miami, still, could be interesting. If he does decide to pair with Melo(doubtful) it will not end well.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    you know, I noticed the puffy cheeks also, not a good sign for a 32 year old athlete.

  • Pops hasn't won a championship since 2007, even though he had Duncan, Ginobili and Parker who were 31, 30 and 25 that season. They lost in the conference finals in 2008, but then went out in the first round, second round, and first round the next three years.

    He deserves all the props he's getting now, but he had a big 3 with 5 or more years in his system and didn't win another WC championship until 2013. Let's not start acting like he's God himself.

    And of course he's a better coach that Thibs- this is Pops' 18th year as a head coach, Thibs' 4th. Young people discount experience all the time, but it's huge. Giant. Massive. It helps. The only surprise would be if Pops WASN'T much better at the intricacies of coaching than Thibs at this point.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    I think moreover, just because Pops is a great coach and the SA front office is also great doesn't make the Bulls coach or FO bad. But it does point out the types of improvements they need to make.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Plus Pops blew the championship in the final minute of game 6 last year with a bone-headed move, pulling Duncan, their best rebounder, allowing LeBron the second chance at the 3-pt shot, which he made. Or, he could have made sure Allen didn't get the ball for his 3-pointer.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Can you imagine the reaction of Bulls fans if that were Thibs and he pulled Noah in that spot? He wouldn't be allowed back into the city.

  • Duncan/Parker/Ginobili is a good - but past their prime - core to build around, but it's not like the Spurs have got anything else in their rotation that other teams shouldn't be able to match. Leonard may look like a stud now but he was available to the Spurs mid first round because he couldn't shoot before they taught him to, he shot 25% from three in college. Diaw and Green were waiver pick ups. Mills is basically on the minimum. Splitter was a late first rounder. Bellinelli is paid half the MLE.

    Put that supporting cast on the Bulls and I bet everyone would be complaining how horrible it is, Bellinelli last year was nowhere near what he's been on the Spurs, Leonard would be Jimmy Butler, Diaw and Mills would just be the butt of McDonalds jokes, etc etc.

    I don't really think it's the talent, it's the use of the talent. They're so well drilled, they don't panic and take bad shots, or pass up good ones - the later is something the Bulls certainly do.

    I think that they've exposed the Heat's defense as actually being quite bad - they're soft in the middle and they know it, so they have to make up for it and trap and double and cause panic. But if you're a good enough team to not panic there's open shots on offer. The Heat are built to make you make bad decisions, and when they've run into a team who doesn't do that, they're just not a good defensive team.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    "I don't really think it's the talent, it's the use of the talent. They're so well drilled, they don't panic and take bad shots, or pass up good ones." Insightful analysis.

    BTW, Hitting on one pick, Leonard, basically made this a championship team. That's why fans love the draft - you just never know.

    But, and this is an important question, what would Leonard have turned into on the Bulls? Would Thibs even have played him his rookie year? Good Coaching is a lot more than schemes, it's player development! And fits, like Augustine last year.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Who would be the better fit on the Bulls, Carmelo or Love? It matters.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Carmelo would have the biggest impact, especially if the Bulls can retain Taj Gibson.

    That would equate to trading Deng for Carmelo.

    Love would require trading away Gibson, Butler, draft picks, etc. Hence, the Bulls would become the Heat.

    Vulnerable to teams with a strong bench and smart head coach. Also, destined to rebuilding instead of reloading after a two - three year run.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    It's not just the guy at the top its the entire staff. There was an article a couple of days ago (Grantland, I think) on their shooting coach, Engelland or something of that sort. He worked with Leonard from day one to fix his shooting mechanics. Shane Battier credits the guy with allowing him to have an NBA career at all, after having worked with him at Duke.

    Bottom line though frustrating as he is, we don't really have that much to complain about. He may not be Pop, but Thibs is still better than 90% of the guys that have ever coached in the league.

  • In reply to rustyw:


  • With Carmelo confirmed opting out, I have a gut feeling he is heading to Miami now. With Miami loosing, Lebron will demand another star playing next to him. The likely scenario is that Miami will dump Chris Bosh for Carmelo. I am not sure if the Heat will be better off with Carmelo in this scenario, but I no the Bulls would be definitely better off with Carmelo. Bulls have an elite PG and elite defense and missing a scorer guy. Heat has an elite Forward and poor PG. Carmelo won't make them better. Hopefully he is smart enough to realize that.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    Unless Bosh is traded, James leaves in free agency or Wade retires Carmelo has no shot of going to Miami. Maybe Miami gives Wade a 20-25 year contract like the Lakers once did with Magic.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I expect the Bulls to give Carmelo a back loaded contract to make up for the reduced salary Carmelo will have to take for the first two years.

  • In reply to Roscoe63:

    You can't back load a max deal. Max is max, and after Melo takes his little LeBron tour to get wined and dined by all the cities, he will be taking a max deal. Even if the Bulls could pay him the max after two seasons, that means they must choose to lose either DRose or Noah. And Melo will not be worth 22 million at ages 35, 36 and 37.

  • In reply to sfpaper:

    When I say "back load" I'm referring to the well known tactic called the "poison pill" contract.

    Definition: NBA general managers have begun to use "poison pill" contracts as a way to exploit the strict new salary cap and luxury tax rules in the league's new collective bargaining agreement.

    In layman's terms the contracts are back loaded. Hence, you can indeed back load a contract.

    Just ask Omar Asik.

    Also, once Melo is signed the Bulls can keep their new core together as long as management desires. A major NBA rule is a team can go over the salary cap to keep their own players - not to sign new players. Also, according the Jerry Reinsdorf, he will happily pay the luxury tax as long as the Bulls are competing for championships.

    I for one believe him.

    Clue: Teams regularly overpay for athletes knowing they will not be worth the money for the full length of the contract. Teams on the verge of competing for a title does this in all sports to get over the hump before the window closes.

    The Bulls with a three to four year window is in this predicament, hence, welcome Carmelo.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    Carmelo and his camp are smart enough to realize the Bulls are the best option for his legacy. Carmelo knows that if he wins a championship in Miami Lebron will get all the credit.

    If Carmelo wins a championship in Chicago, he will be hailed as the missing piece and quite possibly could win a MVP award in Chicago. No such chance in Miami.

    Hence, Miami isn't a viable option for Carmelo's stated goal. It will come down to Chicago and Houston. Chicago being in the weakened Eastern Conference is the better route to take.

  • In reply to Roscoe63:

    I agree.

    As for money, I see that MJ is now a billionaire! Most of his career in Chi his salary was about $3 million per, tho it jumped way up the last 2 or 3 years - $30 and $33 million, I recall. How did that happen? Huge endorsements were the big thing! Jordan would have played for free if he had to.

    So, Mr Anthony, you won't be leaving a thing on the table by signing for less with Chi. Win a couple of rings and the endorsement money will flow in!

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Jordan still makes $90 million a year right now in endorsement money, most of it from the Nike brand. In fact he has made more money since he retired than he did while he was playing. While Melo might make some extrac coin if he wins(anywhere), he has no shot of ever making anywhere near the money that Jordan made. The only other guy who has ever come close is Tiger.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Great point! Bulls brass should harp on this fact to Carmelo.

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    Bulls will never win a chapionship with Thibs as the head coach. This guy is trying to set a precedent - win with a 7-men crew. He plays favorites. Where else in the nba do you see a guy go 1 for 10 or 1 for 12 and yet log 25- 30 minutes? Looking at the nba finals box score, both teams went 12-13 men deep. Is this guy a better coach than Eric or Pops? This guy is so insecure for a win that he had left Rose in the Philly game where he was injured. Common, the other team gave up at that point. I hope the Bulls brass trade him.

  • In reply to Robert Castaneda:


  • I just read that the Spurs are scoring 119 points per 100 possessions in this series. Wow!

  • Draft update: Cleanthony Early as we know shot up from early second/late first to No.18. His rise may continue as more teams lock in on his nearly 6'11 wingspan, 40" Max Vert., prolific mid range game with sixth best shooting percentage 57 2pt% and 63 TS%. Led his team to Final Four and should have won the Kentucky game. Great personality. Volume threes 37% with 84% FT's which is huge. Lethal in transition and extended half court. Underrated handle with space. If we can get him at 16 I'm thinkin I'm all in.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I would take Early only if Hood and Stauskas were off the board, which they probably will be. Would I take Early over Harris if Harris were still on the board? Don't know but it would be a gutsy move. I am certain GarPax would take Harris. Moot point though as Harris will probably be a lottery pick.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Based on what I've read, if Stauskus or Harris are there, you have to take him. Would anyone really disagree with that? Most likely neither will be so Early is intriguing.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Do you take him at 16 ahead of Payne, Hood or Warren?

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I really like Adreian Payne. If the Bulls do take him I would be very excited about that. Would I take Cleanthony Early over Payne? Tough call. I think right now I'd say yes, but that is a win/win in my book.

    If Hood is still around at 16 I think you probably have to take him. I don't think there's a chance Stauskas or Harris will be there. T.J. Warren not unless you think he can evolve/grow into the PF position. His 6'10.25 wingspan and body type(plus big hands/width) looks like it could add weight/muscle. If he can some day soon defend PF's then he could be a high efficiency scoring machine. But you're taking a risk drafting T.J. for sure. "High risk/high reward" player as they say. But I love Early. C.J. Wilcox is underrated and could be a great pick up at 19 depending on who's left.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    From everything that I read, Warren is a small forward only, but what you would call a natural born scorer. Will that translate to the NBA, you never know, until they get there.

    I agree that Wilcox would be an interesting pick at 19, though I could see the Bulls going the Eurostash route(Porzingas, Capella, or Nurjic).

  • The most important part of the blueprint is having a head coach with the mindset of entering the playoffs with well rested starters and a bench confident of contributing.

    San Antonio player averaged less than 30 minutes per game. Thibodeau can't be any clearer that this required wisdom isn't in his DNA.

    Gar/Pax owes it to Rose, Noah and Bulls fan to find the coach capable of following the blueprint.

  • In reply to Roscoe63:

    Can't Thibs learn? Or is he just too stubborn? Get some top assistants and have them help. If one of them gets it better than Thibs, then switch the coach!

    BTW, did you guys read Don Ellis' analysis on Bullsville of how the Bulls could land Afflalo, Melo, and Love? Worth a look.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    LOL! Thibs has been coaching as long as Popovich.

    Fact is Chicago fans are learning first hand why no other organization gave Thibodeau a shot to be a head coach, before the Bulls front office took a gamble.

    Thibodeau is a great teacher of defense. Probably one of the best of all time. However, the organizations who previously employed Thibodeau, had it right. The guy will never be a Popovich, Doc Rivers or Phil Jackson.

    Why? Because the aforementioned coaches are capable of learning from their mistakes and adjusting on the fly and long term.

    Thibs is an old dog. And you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

  • Not sure how LeBron wins another championship in Miami, with Wade only going to get worse (surely not going to opt out of his 40 million) and Bosh really not good enough at doing centery things to be a legit center. They don't have the flexibility to shake anything up, outside of taking huge paycuts. Is it crazy at this point to be gunning for him instead of Melo?

  • In reply to Shakes:

    We will know on June 23rd, three days before the draft. If only Melo opts out, he is not going to Miami. If Melo, LeBron, Wade and Bosh all opt out, they are all signing in Miami. There has been speculation in their local media that Wade and Bosh could give up their remaining 2 years/42 millions for new deals of a 5 year/60 million type. If LeBron opts out, but those two do not, then James is in play.

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