Bulls drop game five, need to regroup

Bulls drop game five, need to regroup

The Bucks are running through a pretty similar game plan. On both sides of the ball, there are a few things that are happening repeatedly, and it's time for Tom Thibodeau to prove he's a playoff coach and make some adjustments.

Bulls can't pass out of double teams

The Bucks are hard double teaming and collapsing all over the place. They'll double guards on the perimeter, they double Gasol any time he touches the ball in the post, and they collapse the whole defense when either Butler or Rose drive to the hoop.

Chicago has not been able to find the open man. They've frequently turned the ball over in these situations, especially because the remaining defenders are aggressively playing passing lanes, or they've just been able to release the ball to someone else who's open but not a threat to score.

In the end, the Bulls are either using too much time which frequently results in bad shots, forcing shots through double teams and getting blocked frequently, or simply turning the ball over.

The solution? The Bulls could do a few things. One thing I think they desperately need is to try a couple small ball lineups with Aaron Brooks, Derrick Rose, and Jimmy Butler playing together.

Brooks gives the Bulls something dangerous on offense when the opposing team is putting a lot of pressure on Jimmy/Rose. His ability to shoot and drive gives them something special.

If Gasol is on the floor, it will also be much more difficult to hard double him on a touch or trap the pass to him. If you hard double off of Brooks, you can't simply just leap out at him like you might with Dunleavy because he's such a threat to beat you off the dribble if you try.

The next thing the Bulls need is more motion in their offense. When a team is trapping you like crazy, you need to run a lot more back cuts which will catch the defense leaping out too far. The Bulls have been a great team at running back cuts all season long, so it's surprising that we haven't seen them run them more effectively now.

However, the Bulls are mostly standing around statically waiting for the ball rather than trying to move towards it or hit a guy in motion. The aggressive Bucks defense has found ways to jump these passing lanes and get steals.

This is what happens with Rose/Butler both play poorly

Butler wasn't abysmal on offense as he made his way to the foul line but still shot just 5/21 for 20 points. Derrick Rose shot just 5/20 for 13 points. That's overall 41 shots for the pair for 33 points. Rose added six turnovers, Butler two, and another six possessions used on FT attempts.

That makes 55 possessions for those 33 points which is simply awful. Rose has now had three rough games out of five. This is Butler's first poor outing.

Gasol scored a ton of points, but hurt the Bulls so much on defense. I'll give him a neutral grade overall. He at least gave the Bulls a ton of points even if there were lots of turnovers, flopping, whining, and overall ugliness to his game. It's more than you can say of anyone else on the Bulls offense.

I liked the way Gibson and Noah played, but Gibson is clearly still hurt and asked to get subbed out at one point while only playing 14 minutes. Noah played very aggressively in the first half looking for his shot and putting pressure on Milwaukee with his aggressiveness.

He missed a couple that could have gone either way, barely rolling out in, in the second half which hurt, but was a big positive overall.

On the defensive end, it's pretty straight forward

The Bucks are doing damage in a few basic ways.

1: The Bulls have done a poor side of defending the weak side corner giving Milwaukee lots of open corner threes which is always a negative.

2: Pau Gasol has plays really poorly on defense and frequently loses his man which leads to offensive rebounds or a completely broken defense as other players cover for him.

3: Derrick Rose is getting killed off the dribble.

That said, the Bulls defense wasn't all that big a problem tonight. The Bucks only shot 42% and 37% from the three point line. They didn't get an inordinately large number of free throw attempts (but were great from the line for once).

There's nothing that can be done for Gasol/Rose except continue to live with it. Not every player on the floor is going to be a defender. However, Chicago needs to be more aggressive on their close outs on the three point line against good shooters.

The Bucks did an okay job of driving this game, but for the most part they've done a very poor job of finding shots off the dribble, so make them work for them rather than giving up open jumpers.

Not so bad as it seems

The Bulls still need to find continuity. They still need to grow as a team. As bad as this loss was, as much as I wish the Bulls won, it's better to have this flop of a game now than against Cleveland in game one.

Now let's just hope Chicago doesn't manage to enter the history books as the first NBA team to drop a series after opening up 3-0, but hey, it could be worse, we could be Atlanta and be at 2-2.

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  • Excellent analysis. Thanks for being the voice of reason. If you look at all the Bulls blogs tonight, you'd think the world has ended.

  • 1. They need to shoot more 16-18 foot mid range jumpers because their defense is design to shut down 3 pointers and layup.

    2. Try to use Jimmy Butler in post up situation.

    3. Whoever in the post needs to recognize and pass it out of the double team much sooner

    4. I've said this during the regular season. Limit Noah touching the ball near the 3 point line. He will just kill few seconds off the clock without putting any pressure on the other team whatsoever.

  • In reply to handushk:

    agree totally with Noah. Overall, I think his minutes need to be reduced. He is a big part of the problem because it's 5 on 4 out there when the Bulls are on offense. This is one reason why the Bucks collapse on everyone else and double team so successfully. Gibson looked pretty good when he played. Mirotic didn't look good, but he can space and can drop 20+ points any game.

  • In reply to Granby:

    So far Niko hasn't given us anything, even when playing PF.

    Somewhat disappointing since he has played in a playoff environment in Europe. It just may be that his game can be shut down by a team willing and able to play super aggressive high energy defense.

    He really isn't a particularly good athlete and even though he can take certain guys off the dribble, I certainly wouldn't call him a great ball handler either. Length and athleticism is the likely defensive strategy against him, can he and the Bulls adapt.

    He'd probably thrive in a smart offense like the Spurs or Hawks run. Since the Bulls have essentially no offense other than one on one play while the other guys stand around he may not thrive here until that changes, i.e. new coaching staff.

    We have to at least give Thibs some credit for recognizing that Niko is useless on offense and a near disaster defensively at SF, so he played him more minutes at PF. Was this on purpose or is Taj hurting so much that he just can't go?

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Niko gives us one crucial thing at PF... floor spacing.

    How do you think the Bulls have outscored the Bucks by such a wide margin with Niko at PF, even though Niko's personal numbers haven't been that great?

    You can say that Niko hasn't given us a lot when it comes to individual stats vs the Bucks while playing PF, one cannot argue how downright dominant the team has been when he has played PF this series:

    PF: 42:16...... 102-68
    SF: 32:19...... 46-74
    DNP: 175:25....... 337-323

    I'm hoping you are right and Thibs has finally seen the light - Niko played 26:15 TOTAL (8:45 per game) at PF through the first four games, but 16:01 at PF last night.

    We all saw how dominant Niko was in March when he got a consistent 30+ minutes a night at PF, I just hope we'll get the chance to see those minutes in the post-season.

    Niko is a particularly good athlete for a PF, and he is a great ball-handler for a PF. But he isn't a SF in any shape or form. Not even close.

  • In reply to handushk:

    On your 4th point..the Bucks have eliminated the dribble-handoffs that Noah facilitates. I think a few PnRs with Noah will be more effective, at least in tempting the weak side defenders to to move towards the roll man.

  • Where would the Bulls be now if Toronto had won one more game? Maybe getting swept by the Wiz!

  • In reply to rustyw:

    I thought the exact same thing. A 1st round match-up with Washington would have been a complete disaster. I think there's a very good possibility the Wiz will end up in the ECF.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    Yes. Wiz are legit. Pierce is somehow still lethal. Wall emerging. Bigs crush our bigs. I was pounding the table for the offensively challenged Bucks. I have to admit that they are better than I thought - that D is one of the best. I still think their O sucks if you stop MCW from driving because he cannot shoot. That was most of their offense last night. How we didn't adjust is beyond me...

  • In reply to rustyw:

    That might still have been better than losing to this Bucks team, which is beating us on energy and effort alone. But we would have had Atlanta or maybe even Brooklyn in the second round, so there is that.

  • Still making bad passes and missing a lot of layups! Which I have griped about various times.

    Plus the two dynamic guards were, together, 10 of 41, which is under 25%. Terrible. Just terrible. If they had only shot 35% the Bulls would have won.

    And like Thibs said, the D was not good.

    That combo will do a team in for sure! Do these guys really want a title?

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Don't forget the turnovers. The lazy, stupid turnovers.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Did you say that like Charles Barkley, turrible.

  • How many years do we have to up with "one of the best coaches in the NBA" Thibs' inability to coach offense? 5 guys standing around waiting until the end of the shot clock to either chuck up a shot or turn the ball over is not an offense. And just like last year against Randy Wittman, Thibs is being completely pantsed by Jason Kidd.

    And the MVP? What more can be said about a diva being schooled by a second year player? Keep jacking those 3s. Keep throwing the ball away. And United Center dummies, keep chanting M-V-P.

    The Bulls have gone from winning in regulation to winning in overtime to losing at the buzzer to losing at home. If the trend continues expect them to get blown out in Milwaukee. But not to worry. We have the MVP and one of the best coaches in the NBA.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    Yes, very sad. First, I think Thibs cannot adjust to stop MCW driving the ball. He is legit, but has no other game. It's not a very dynamic roster offensively. Thibs should be able to stick Butler on MCW - or even Snell. Rose is god-awful on D.

    Second, why is our offense so slow and predicable? So much standing around! Is there a "do not shoot" rule early in the shot clock? Why do they rarely push the ball to get easy transition buckets? I swear, Thibs could coach a team of all-stars and they would be offensively challenged.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Actually, Rose's on ball defense is the good part of his defensive game, his off ball defense is like a Ben Gordon clone, standing around flat footed with your head on a swivel, having no clue where your man is as he blows by you to make a play.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You can't blame Rose for MCW shooting over the top of him, Thibs needs to adjust and put Butler or Snell on MCW. But that would involve thinking and/or actually telling a vet 'you ain't getting any stops, I'ingoing to replace you/switch the man you're guardn

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    Joe Cowley? Is that you?

  • In reply to JPesos1230:

    Cowley would blame the FO, never Thibs.

  • Bulls are a joke once again. They should just quit and stop wasting everyone's time.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    You first.

  • Derrick Rose this year had significant stretches where he hurt the Bulls with his high turnover, low efficiency games. You're shooting what 29% from three for the season, and you can't get it through your f-ing head you're not a volume three point shooter?! 0-7 on threes from a 29% shooter is "me" ball as in "me is a dumb ass."

    And Mike Dunleavy with the inevitable killing me(your team) softly game as in 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, and 0 steals in 21 minutes. Well at least he posted some solid numbers as in 4 fouls and a turnover to keep Derrick from hogging all the credit.

    Seriously with guys as incompetent(turnovers galore and f-ed up defensive assignments) as Rose is at times and a soft ass center in Gasol not to mention other then tonight's anomaly enabler game Joakim Noah has sucked ass crack in this series what in thee fuck gives anyone the illusion at this point that the Bulls are a contender?? LeBron and the Shriners could beat this poor excuse of a ball club. Oh, and Thibodeau don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out you f-ing dimwitted dolt playing Jimmy Butler 46 minutes and Rose 42 you f-ing douchebag.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Great analysis, I'm sick and tired of Coach Stubborn-ass already. How about making the adjustment of taking sorry-ass Noah out of the game when he is missing so many layups and not looking for his shot down low and wasting the shot clock trying be be a point center with him in the game the Bulls are playing 4 against 5 with no floor spacing. Why not play Aaron Brooks with Rose sometimes? I realize its a small back court but just for some spurts.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I keep waiting for Rose to learn from his mistakes as he tells us that he will after every game while not being concerned about anything and loving everything about his game. If he was learning from his mistakes, he'd be working on his third PHD by now.

    It was obvious from his first 3 point shot last night that he didn't have his legs, he should have know and not taken another 3 all night. He did however, have enough juice in his legs to take and make some mid range shots which he should have been smart enough to take advantage of, but he simply isn't, smart or learning from his mistakes.

    Noah's giving us all the heart, hustle and muscle that he has to give, but this year, his offensive failings have become both embarrassing and depressing. To bad we can't merge Noah's will and determination with S.O.L.'s body and offensive skill set, that would be the best center in the league and likely an all time great.

    Dunleavy pulled a Dunleavy last night, but what's a Thibs to do, neither Snell or Niko has done squat for the most part. I guess we could try Doug's suggestion of Brooks, Rose and then Butler at SF. Seems to me that backcourt would get annihilated on D, but at this point its worth a shot.

  • The only thing I will comment on here is that I am sick and tired of Gasol's act. He complains to the refs on every single play that involves him. Grow up! Play basketball like a man and beat your man.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    agree. very annoying.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    For realz.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    Agree 100%! I am as big a Bulls fan as you'll find but his constant whining makes me sick.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    C'mon guys are you nuts, only a small man with an 8th grade education would dare question anything about the 10th best player in the world. Don't you know that he's a double double machine and playing against one of the toughest bigman defensive combo's in the history of the NBA, Zaza Pachulia and John Henson, who may overtake Russell and Wilt by the end of this series.

    Speaking of double double's anyone notice that the Bulls had 3 of them last night while the Bucks had none, yet the Bulls not only lost, they couldn't break 90 points. The Hawks had 3 DD's last night to only one for the Nets, yet they also lost. I thought that "the professor" John Hollinger wrote an algorithm that proved that the team with the most DD's is the actual winner of the game regardless of what the official scoreboard tells you.

  • I finally lost confidence in Thibodeau, i think his coaching skills have depreciated greatly the last few years. He gets a lot of respect for his innovations on defense but i think most of those have been assimilated by all good coaches and even improved upon. Seems like he peaked in 2010 and doesnt have any new tricks. It's like the van gundy's who also peaked in the 00s...

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    I agree. Thibs is like Love Smith and the Cover 2. Knows one thing and when the league has adjusted coaches like these are useless.

  • There's a reasonable possibility this Bulls team becomes the first in NBA history to lose a series after being up 3-0. The point margin has gotten progressively worse for Chicago every game this series:

    Game 1: +12
    Game 2: +9
    Game 3: +7
    Game 4: -2
    Game 5: -6

    Not a very encouraging trend. This is likely just not Chicago's year, as the team probably needs an entire season playing together with consistent lineups. I also question how much depth this team really has, as it seems you never know what you'll get from one game to the next from anyone off the bench. It's clear the bench cannot really function at all without at least a couple starters mixed in; a drastic change from the 2011-2012 bench mob.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    They're not going to lose the series but I agree it's not their year.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    It has nothing to do with being their year or not, this current cast of players is simply not championship worthy, and not getting any younger or better. A collection of flawed players, who become mistake players under pressure.

  • these long, athletic trapping teams have always given the D Rose Bulls problems. The Bucks are very good at blitzing the pick and roll, aggressively playing the passing lanes with long perimeter players and collapsing in the paint with length and guys who get off the floor quickly without fouling. The Heat was really good at this when they had Bosh and Haslem inside. The Warriors have done this well against the Bulls the last few years. Now the Bucks have the athletes and team concept to do it. The good news is that the Bulls should still win this series and Cleveland is not nearly the defensive team that the Bucks are. I just don't understand how our defense is still so bad. Was hoping for an improvement in the playoffs.

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    In reply to piggy7:

    I agree but I cannot believe that the refs were just letting them play. To be fair, it was on both sides, but the bucks are fouling a little more and at home, you would think we would get some calls.

    I am really scared, I am not sure we can solve this problem of their smothering defense and the riddle of MCW getting into lane at will for layups

  • 1. Bulls need to keep the ball moving on O.

    2. Bulls need to look for easy transition buckets. Push the ball when they have numbers.

    3. Stick a bigger defender on MCW, for Christ sakes! Butler can lock him up.

    4. Play Noah less for proper spacing on O. Mirotic can space and Gibson even looked good while he was in there and plays harder than anyone else.

    I think the Bulls have a better shot in Milwaukee, honestly, given it's much louder - and mostly Bulls fans. Plus, less pressure given that it's away and not in the quiet, uptight UC with too many rich people sitting on their hands.

    Unless the Bulls win this series and beat Cleveland, Thibs is done in Chicago, IMO. He just reminds me every game how predictable he is and he cannot adjust. And, he's too uptight. Kidd looks calmer and more in control.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Agree on all of your points, especially #3. I wanted Thibs to switch Snell/Jimmy on MCW last night even for a spell before he got confident.

    On Thibs, I'm sadly agreeing with you. Great coach but in-game adjustments have been his weakness. Sure, play harder and with more effort but adjust as Kidd has. For example, I wondered why Brooks got so few minutes even when Bayless was playing. Rose is more effective playing on more than 1 day of rest so I thought we'd see more Brooks in game 5.

  • In reply to JPesos1230:

    The constant double teams the last few games, have had a significantly negative impact on Rose's effectiveness; this effect is compounded even further with a less talented Brooks. It seems to me the Bucks defense is able to easily neuter Brooks, causing the rest of the offense to go completely limp. I agree with Thibs on this one.

  • If Thibs does't make any adjustments, the Bulls are about to make history as the first team to lose a playoff series after winning the first 3 games.

  • Well, Doug, perhaps the Bucks are not the worst playoff team as you have been confidently saying (wrong) and that the Bulls would have an easy time with them (wrong).
    You can't scapegoat Gasol on offense who was by far their best option so you write that Gasol is the main reason the defense is so bad.

    Perhaps you missed yesterday's column from ESPN:

    "Namely, in the 45 minutes in which Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau has played Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson together, the Bulls have been outscored by 34 points."

    "I think the small four is tough for them," Henson said, "especially for Joakim. I think that's been the reason why we've been successful prior to yesterday's game."

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Correction. The last sentence should read "I think that's been the reason why we've been successful."

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    How many of those minutes have they shared the court with Rose, Butler and Dunleavy, you know the starting lineup.

    For the vast majority of those minutes they have shared the court with some combination of Brooks, Hinrich and/or Snell, an/or Niko at SF (not PF).

    Without even checking, I'd be willing to wager that those guys might have a combined plus minus for the series greater than minus 34 points, it might be double that, maybe more. Even as bad as they played last night, I'd rather take my chances with a backcourt of Rose and Butler and even with Dunleavy at SF.

    I would think that an ultra sophisticated stat guru like you would be aware of the biases inherent in raw numbers without context. Oh, wait, I forgot you use whatever numbers suit your narrative at any given moment even if they completely contradict everything that you've ever said in the past, at least when it comes to defending the S.O.L. (directly or indirectly) since apparently your life somehow depends on it.

    While no one is suggesting that Noah and Gibson have been kicking ass, whatever they've been doing for a good part of the time they've been doing it with both hands tied behind their backs.

    It must suck for you now that virtually the entire world has turned against the KKP or do you prefer the S.O.L. and you can't just conduct a one man jihad against me.

  • The reality of the situation is that the Bulls are not that much better than any other team in the East and not that much worse than any other team in the East (Cleveland, Atlanta, Washington at times). ANYTHING can happen in the East....This type of play is consistent with this entire year. The frustrating part is that they are finally healthy and still playing inconsistent. The optimism of all is that they can win game 6 and honestly turn it around against Cleveland to win that series, and that is not something crazy to say, even if you watch how bad they look at times.

    To me, I can live with Rose having these type of "dumb" games as I would call it, where he looks like he has no energy or will to win, making bad decisions and playing poor defense. But at the same time, he still has games where nobody can touch him and he is playing solid defense, as the ineffectiveness of MCW for most of this series has shown. I think about when he played for the US in the summer, that type of D, he is able to do it when feeling well....I am content with knowing that because of his prior health, Rose is still going to have games where his body is not feeling up for it, so his mind is not either, that's just who he is right now....I think if he plays a full year that will change and he will be more consistent on both ends.

    What I have came around to is all the negativity about Thibs....I can't stand how much it seems like he gets outcoached in the playoffs. Taj was doing great and he doesn't see the court much in the 2nd half? Niko and Snell doing almost nothing and they in the 4th? Give AB some more time instead of draining Rose maybe? Give Butler a little more time off maybe? Make some sort of adjustment to make it obvious you know what you are doing!

  • Interesting to see the fans here turn against Thibs. I don't necessarily disagree, but many fans used to blame everything on the FO and some fans and media folks still do. Jeff Van Gundy said earlier this year that he doesn't even know why they're discussing Thibs' job status when he's won so many regular season games and besides, the Bulls FO had a falling out with Phil Jackson so they can't keep good coaches (the fact that that was a completely different FO is irrelevant). At least one fan here sided with him. Joe Cowley of the S-T (tabloid hack journalist extraordinaire, and I have thought that long before he started covering the Bulls) theorizes that last night's loss is due to "the country club atmosphere created by the front office."

    The TO's aren't Thibs' fault but he did not adjust after Game 4. Kidd is plainly outcoaching him.

    The biggest adjustment Thibs needs to make, though, is one that he probably can't: Derrick touches the ball too much. Derrick is maybe the team's third best offensive player at this point but if they keep acting like he's their best offensive player, they will go out with a whimper.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I don't really see how someone can say that Derrick touches the ball too much, even if I agree with you that he is not playing well much of the time. But, there are stretches where Rose barely touches the ball or only has it toward the end of the shot clock heaving a desperation 3....there are moments and a few possesions in a row when Rose touches the ball too much, but that could be said for Gasol and Butler as well really, or even AB and Taj at times when it gets stuck in their hands. I guess I just disagree that Rose has the ball too much, and blame it more on a team not moving the ball enough or in the best way, causing some silly turnovers on crazy passes or what not....

  • In reply to Roman F:

    As I suggested yesterday, hasn't Thibs been outcoached pretty much every year in the playoffs. That has to tell us something about where the future of this team is headed.

    We are stuck between a rock and a hard place with Thibs. He's a good enough coach to get you somewhere(the playoffs), but flawed enough to not get you to the mountaintop. I don't know if that would change even with the right players, which right now we don't have anyway.

    The Thunder dumped Scott Brooks and he's likely won more games than Thibs over the past 4-5 years, sometimes you just have to make a change for the sake of making a change, we may be there too.

  • In Doug's summary there is little or no mention of a major problem from last night's game. Dunleavy had a stat line of 0/0/0. His replacement, Tony Snell, was almost as ineffective. Mirotic looked completely lost and was awful. Kirk had a -9 between the time I went to the washroom for a wiz and the time I came back. Brooks looked ok in the little he played but the Bucks have basically neutralized him for the series.

    Little mention of this ineptitude which helped sink the Bulls but quite a bit about Pau's whining and flopping, however. As if Noah (and others) don't whine and Noah doesn't scream each time an opponent touches his back when fighting for a rebound.

    Pau carried the Bulls last night and gave them a chance to win. Jimmy played hard but was 5-21. They were the Bulls best players.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Gasol has been a godsend on offense, but his D is lacking at times. Did you notice on two of the first couple Buck possessions how he completely moved out of the way to let a Buck player score? (I think this was either their first 2 baskets, or 2 of the first 3). On each play he started to help, then backed off and the Buck player got an easy uncontested layup... it's like he had money on the Bucks or something!!! Completely maddening watching that guy play D at times.

    Gasol is getting a bad rap with Bulls fans because he does not play strong and he whines more than anyone - even Taj. He needs to stop worrying about the officiating.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Granby, I did notice that. I think he backed-off evidently thinking the player with the ball was going to dish to the man Pau was guarding. If that happened people would then argue how Pau's man scored unguarded. In retrospect, it would have been better for Pau to help the primary defender. But these games are played in real-time and players need to make snap decisions.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    On paper this team has a lot of talent and good depth. In reality, there is barely enough to make up solid starting-5. Rose, Butler and Gasol are really the only 3 that can put up decent stats on a consistent basis. Noah and Gibson have both regressed significantly from last season; Mirotic is constantly playing out of position due to the frontcourt overcrowding; Brooks is not equiped to handle playoff-level basketball, and Dunleavy and Snell can easily go for 0/0/0/ state lines, and playing Hinrich is like intentionally installing a virus on your computer. There is simply way too much inconsistency, and lack of effectivenenss from player to player to call this team "deep".

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    "playing Hinrich is like intentionally installing a virus on your computer" is priceless. Is it too late to play to think about playing McDermott on Dudley?

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Pau might not be the only flopper and whiner on the Bulls but he's clearly the biggest flopper and whiner on the Bulls. I'm not sure why you're going out of your way to defend him. I mean no offense with this statement: For a while I thought you made a lot of really good points about Pau but the last few days you seem to be digging into your POV and becoming more extreme with it.

    Niko was a pretty big disappointment, and it probably should have been mentioned because he's such a key player for us.

    Dunleavy is maybe the 6th or 7th most important player for the Bulls so he gets overlooked. They don't need a good game from him to win.

    Klank was his usual non-NBA self but only played a few minutes, hardly the reason they lost the game.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I guess you're right about me digging in on my POV. And If I am going out of my way to defend him it is that one of the things that makes me angry in life is the herd mentality and the scapegoating that usually comes with it.

    I can see criticizing a player if the facts support it. Nobody is above criticism. But the continual scapegoating of one player on a daily basis, contrary to the statistical evidence, is reprehensible in my opinion.

    I think reporters should report the facts. The lack of production from Niko and Brooks during the series is important. As you know, Niko and Brooks rescued the Bulls several times during the season. Without their production in the playoffs the Bulls are in for a hard time. But no, we didn't read about that. We read about whining from a player who was 25/10/4/2 and was arguably the best player for the Bulls. This is a prime example of scapegoating.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    And I also get angry about racist posts. See last night's discussion about Dudley.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Yeah Brooks has been a train wreck this series after a very good season.

  • We also need to filter out the emotion from last night's game and get some clarity.

    After 5 games the Bulls still lead the NBA in the playoffs (both conferences) in defense. They are holding the Bucks to a FG% of .397. They have a league leading Defense Rating of 96.1. This is a stat that was developed by the NBA's own lead statistician.

    Pau is now leading the entire NBA in individual Defense Rating with 91. Millsap fell down to 97 last night and is tied with Tony Allen. I recognize that Pau is not the best defender in the NBA but having the highest Defense Rating on the team with the best Defense Rating is noteworthy.

    I had coffee this morning with a friend of mine who is an actuary. He has a Ph.D in mathematics. I presented the statistical information to him in the most unbiased way that I could. I also mentioned that that there has been anecdotal arguments that this player was an awful defender who has actually been primarily responsible for the team's defensive woes in a five game series. His response after spending several minutes looking at my print-outs was "that is very unlikely."

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    What's you point about Gasol? Milwaukee bigs are not scoring against anybody. Stats can lie, you know. I do not think the Bulls D has been so great. If Milwaukee could hit shots they would be winning by more and probably be up 3-2.

    The eye test shows that Gasol is not the NBAs best defender in the NBA. That seems more like a joke to me.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Agreed. The Bulls defensive ratings are a result of Milwaukee's lack of pure shooters, shot creators and strong post players, more so than anything the Bulls are doing defensively.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    Disagree. The Bucks shot .457 overall this season and .363 from the 3 point line. Both ranked 7th in the NBA.

    In the 5 game series so far the Bulls have kept the Bucks FG% to .397 and their 3 point shooting to .322. The Bulls have ranked first in Defensive Rating in the NBA playoffs.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Pau is not the best defender in the NBA. Nobody said that. Pau has the best individual Defensive Rating in the NBA playoffs this year.

    The book "Moneyball" revolutionized baseball as well as every other major professional sport. A key premise of the book is that the "eye test" is often wrong. Moreover, people's biases get in the way of their judgment. Probably the most important book on professional sports in the past 20 years.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    You know, Kentucky basketball stats looked pretty damn good because they were playing in the SEC. Then, they played a team with an efficient offense that can score (Wisconsin) and lost.

    Milwaukee's strength is not their offense. They have no go-to scorer and outside of 2 guys (Middleton and Mayo) do not have good shooters.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Bulls and Pau are not playing good D, they just happen to be playing the worst offensive team play in the playoffs.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Disagree on both points.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Without checking, I would wager that the Bucks and Celtics are the lowest scoring teams in the playoffs(likely even including their overtime points), and the Bulls are not that far behind(ahead) them.

    So you can't help but have a good D rating if you are playing against the lowest scoring team in the playoffs. I believe this might be the time for someone trying to prove how smart they are to make a snide remark about the difference between correlation and causation.

    I guess then you could argue over whether good defense or bad offense is the primary cause, or some combo of both. The Bulls have clearly run into a team that is killing it with energy and effort on D, while their offense has been stagnant at best. I certainly wouldn't describe the Bulls defensive effort as stellar, or anywhere near as good as the Bucks. While the Bucks offense hasn't looked any better than the Bulls except for the huge discrepancy in 3 point shooting over the first 3 games.

    I would bet there are a number of Bulls and Bucks near the top of the D rating for the playoffs, as well as some Cav's since the Celtics would seem to be the other team that has scored the fewest points in the playoffs.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You do realize the Bucks players are being guarded by the Bulls players, right?

  • Thibs' insistence on making the same coaching mistakes over and over might just allow this team to be the first ever to blow a 3-0 series lead:

    He keeps on playing Niko at SF, even though all the stats and results say it's just a stupid idea. Last night Niko only played 2:41 at SF spanning the end of the 1st and beginning of 2nd quarters, and the Bulls were outscored 11-2. That -9 stretch cost the Bulls the game, as they were +3 in the other 45:19.

    He continues to use players as if they are robots, figuring that they don't ever need rest. Jimmy played 24:00 in the 2nd half and Rose 23:22, while Snell played the last 19:54 without coming out of the game. It's not surprising that the Bucks had more energy down the stretch of the 4th quarter.

    Niko played 16:01 at PF, and while he struggled with his shot the team was -1 during that time. I know it will never happen but I really think it's time for Thibs to go to this starting lineup:

    C Gasol/Noah
    PF Mirotic
    SF Snell
    SG Butler
    PG Rose

    When Noah is on the floor, it needs to be with Niko at PF, which spreads floor and gives the team more room to run back-door cuts and get open spot up 3s.

    Snell or Butler one of them needs to be on the floor at all times for their defense when MDJ is out there.

    I keep reading how Gasol is killing our defense, but he has the best defensive rating on the team during the Bucks' series. The Bulls team Def Rtg is 89.2 when Pau is on the floor, 93.6 overall. People see what the want to see, but facts are facts, and the fact is that the Bulls defense has been excellent so far in the playoffs when Gasol has been anchoring it.

    Niko has played 42:16 at PF in the series, and the Bulls have outscored the Bucks 102-68. Sadly, Thibs has insisted on playing Niko at SF for 32:19 so far, and the Bulls have been outscored 46-74.

    Do the math, Thibs, so we have a chance at winning a title this summer.

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    In reply to Don Ellis:

    Wow, those are some alarming splits

    I have to believe the Bulls have access to this and even more. This defies logic to completely repeat the same mistake over and over.

    Insanity I say, insanity

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Totally agree Don. Would love to see less Noah and more Gibson and Mirotic at the 4. We need Gasol at the 5.

    Gasol is not killing our D, but he's far from dominating. He's a poor help defender, that's for sure. I watched it with my own two eyes last night. His help D is on full display since he is rarely playing straight up 1-on-1 post D in this series. The Bucks have no post scorers. (Did you see the two crap baskets that ZaZa threw up there last night?! Unbelievable.)

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Spot-on. Excellent reporting.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Yes, the Bulls defense has been excellent. That has not been the crux of the Bulls problem. They have kept the Bucks shooting substantially under their seasonal averages. They are first in Defense Rating in the NBA playoffs and their center is first in individual Defense Rating and also tied for first in DEFENSIVE win-shares among all players in the playoffs.

    Yet from reading the reporting (and certain misinformed bloggers) Gasol is a complete disaster on defense and primarily responsible for the Bulls troubles.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    It's too late now and not in Thibs nature, but I've been suggesting a platoon system among the bigmen since the preseason. Gasol/Gibson, Noah/Mirotic. Start whomever you want, play them in 6 minute spurts and keep rotating them to keep them all fresh. None of them are exactly marathon runners or the worlds best athletes, they could all benefit from playing in shorter stints, especially the guys in their 30's and/or injured. Still not all that sure that would give us a chance at winning a title though.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    I would be curious to see what those stats would look like if you could factor out all of Hinrich's minutes, Niko's when playing the 3, as well as Brooks or Snell playing the 3. Just being on the court for Hangdog alone has to torpedo anybody that is unlucky enough to have to play with him. even as little as he has played. Didn't somebody say something about him being minus 9 in the time it took to take a piss.

    Like I said earlier, Gasol gets to play the vast majority of his minutes with the entire starting lineup(specifically Rose and Butler) and virtually none of his minutes with the Brooks/Hangdog/ Snell combo, or the Brooks/Snell/Niko at SF combo, while Noah and Gibson are most likely to be out there for all of those guys minutes. In a small sample size of only 5 games, it wouldn't take all that many minutes of horrendous performance by those guys to significantly skew the numbers.

    How would everybody like to see a Brooks, Hangdog, Snell, Gasol and Niko lineup. Lets see what kind of D rating those guys would put up.

  • Also, when I posted the other day following Rose's big night that I was concerned about his jacking up nine 3s, I wasn't just trying to be the wise contrarian. I was seriously concerned that it would just result in him jacking up more 3s, which he's done, only with the more typically bad results. They're not going to win with him trying more than five per game.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I actually agreed with you. It is almost like you can't win for losing with Rose's 3's, if he hits one or two, you know that he is going to jack up that many more which he will start missing, yet you can't root for him to miss them.

    I think that we all wish he would be disciplined enough to stop taking so many. Last night it was painfully obvious on his first 3 attempt that he didn't have his legs. He should have been smart enough, or self aware enough to realize this a stop taking them. He did, however, seem to have enough juice in his legs to make a couple of mid range jumpers which should be a bigger part of his game.

  • This team just has not have enough time to play together and get in a rhythm. It looks like everyone is clueless on the floor and Thibs doesn't make it better with his constant riding his favorites without any in game adjustments.

  • Every time someone makes a shot or a play I am surprised.

  • Is it me or is jimmy butler the only person on the bulls team able to get in passing lanes and create turnovers? Everyone else just seems to want to stay in correct position and never take any chances. This hadn't been working out because Chicago can't seem to get a defensive rebound regardless.

  • In reply to Seattle Bulls Fan:

    Actually the Bulls have gotten plenty of defensive rebounds. The Bulls lead the league in rebounds in these playoffs.

    Pau leads the league in defensive rebounds in the playoffs by a substantial amount with 54-over the next player who happens to be Noah with 43. Pau also leads the NBA in total rebounds, total rebounding percentage, defensive rebounding percentage, and blocked shots. Rebounding involves skill, anticipation and toughness. Many seven footers are poor rebounders.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Chicago gives up the third most offensive rebounds to their opponents this post season at 12.8 a game.

  • In reply to Seattle Bulls Fan:

    It looks like you both found a raw stat to make it look like you're right.

    The Bulls are either first among 16 teams, or 14th depending on how you chose to look at it. Of course both numbers are at least somewhat a product of the bucks prodigious brick laying.

    Hey, I appreciate that the S.O.L. at least does go out and get double digit rebounds every night(and points for that matter), lets just not add him to Mr Rushmore for it.

    Yes, rebounding can be all of those things, or it could be, being the tallest guy on the court at all times, abrogating all defensive responsibilities in order to play a one man zone defense by standing in the lane at all times while waiting for the rebounds to hit you in the face. Boozer pretty much made a living doing that, and he was only 6'8". In fact his career average is 9.5rpg vs Pau's 9.4rpg, and per 36 its bozohole 10.96 vs 9.5 for Pau. Hmmm, over 1800 games vs 5, which is the real deal.

    The Bulls were 19th in defensive rebound percentage during the regular season, I'm guessing, by far their lowest ranking in the Thibs era(like pretty much everyone one of their defensive metrics were), while being no better if not slightly worse with Gasol on the floor than off.

    There is a reason that he recorded the highest rpg of his career at age 34 and its not because he suddenly became a smarter, more skilled, and certainly not a tougher rebounder. If you are not going to help any of your teammates out on D, or do much of anything to stop your own man, then you better get every rebound as a 7ft starting center. Which apparently he isn't doing if the Bulls only rank 19th in defensive rebounding percentage.

    Hey, If Omer Asik can average a double double in only 30mpg as he did in the one season that he started, it really can't be that big of a deal, except of course to Sam Smith, and maybe boozer.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    “Pau leads the league in defensive rebounds in the playoffs by a substantial amount with 54-over the next player who happens to be Noah with 43.”

    When was this stat taken? How many more games have the Bulls players had than opposing players in the playoffs? The Bulls played six games before tonight. Many other playoff teams only played four or five. I think there's some serious folly at looking at such a small sample size of data when just one additional game played can make a huge difference for a players' rebounding total.

  • Hey, I notice that nobody is talking up the plus minus stats from yesterday's game. I guess that today it doesn't suit their purpose, so better ignore it.

    Interestingly, Mike Dunleavy, who literally did nothing, 0 points, rebounds or assists in 21 minutes was the Bulls superstar in plus minus at plus 5. The S.O.L. had his best game of the series, 25 points on 9-15 shooting yet he was the Bulls worst starter at minus 8, somehow even worse than Rose and his 6 turnovers and 5-20 shooting, and only better than Hangdog at minus 9(whom he probably never shared the floor with) and Niko at minus 10(9 of which came at small forward, according to DE) when paired with Noah and Taj.

    Not saying that it means much, if anything, but interesting dichotomy between the raw production numbers and the plus minus numbers.

  • Finally, did anybody else think that it was kind of soft of the Bulls to call a timeout on that play where Carter Williams was down on the ground hurt and the Bulls had the ball, but Rose got hit in the mouth and couldn't bring himself to join his teammates for a 5 on 4 advantage on the offensive end of the court, forcing Thibs to call a timeout negating the Bulls advantage and allowing the Bucks to get Carter Williams out and reset their defense.

    While Rose didn't fall to the ground like he was shot by an RPG the way that the SOL does when anyone touches his head, he still couldn't bring himself to join his teammates in the frontcourt to press the advantage that they had. I still remember when Rose responded to getting hit in the face as a rookie by saying he doesn't like it because he's too pretty, its not like he's Reggie Theus or Rick Fox. Still too much mama's boy in him if you ask me, maybe thats why he commits so many turnovers and isn't an elite ballhandler.

  • Speaking of Sam Smith, how could I pass on this one.

    "Noah seemed revived playing like he did last season on the boards and Gasol got going from the outside in the third quarter. The Bucks, nevertheless, pulled ahead 67-58 with Gasol screaming “defense!” at teammates".

  • Some of you guys are embarassing yourselves with your Pau-bashing, I'm sorry to say.

    Say what you want about him, it doesn't bother me one iota, but facts are making you look pretty silly.

    It's easy to say that the Bulls have the best Def Rtg in the league because MIL's offense sucks, but Gasol has the lowest Def Rtg among all Bulls players. The Bulls defense allows 89.2 points/100 poss when Pau in on the floor vs 93.6 points/100 poss overall.

    Gasol's Def Rtg is much better than that of the other big men (Noah 96.7 and Gibson 99.4), not including Niko because he has only played 56.7% of his minutes at PF.

    Of combos that have played at least 10 minutes in the series, the Noah/Gibson combo is by far the worst (112.8 Def Rtg in 50 minutes)

    A defensive stop doesn't occur until you grab a Def Reb or the ball goes out of bounds or the offense commits a turnover, and the fact that Gasol leads the NBA in Def Reb % doesn't hurt his Def Eff Rtg.

    He also leads the NBA in blocked shot %, again not something
    one would expect from a "soft" player.

    I personally don't care who calls Gasol soft, it's a free country, but i'm at least going to look at the actual results first.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Good points once again, Don. Do you think the Bulls should trade Noah this offseason? In theory, Noah's defense is superior to Pau, but your stats show this may not be true.

    Noah's lack of offensive skills, IMO, hurts the Bulls on offense and far outweighs any defense he brings. Maybe it's the injuries, but he is not as much of a difference maker.

    Maybe the Bulls keep him around if he will take a lesser role and resign for less after next season.

    I think Gibson is more valuable and Mirotic and Pau needs to be on the court for 35 mpg.

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