Please tell me Tom Thibodeau is not serious

Following the Bulls loss to the Miami Heat, Tom Thibodeau said something to the effect of “Defensively, we were terrible.   We have a lot of stuff we need to clean up”.   Please, please, please tell me this is just his standard stock answer and not the internal workings of his mind.

The Chicago Bulls held the Miami Heat to 85 points. 

At some point, you have to step back and look at that.   In 94 games this season, the Heat have been held to less than 85 points a total of five times.   The Miami Heat haven’t scored less than the Bulls 75 all season.  

Do you really think you can hold them to 74 points and win?

The outcome of this game had nothing to do with defense.

The Bulls defense was still generally fairly active especially with Asik

The Bulls gave up a fairly high percentage from the field (47%) again, but they denied three point shooting and limited free throws.   Overall, Miami had a fairly pedestrian offensive efficiency.

When Omer was on the floor, Miami really struggled to get anything going, and the more the Bulls limit Boozer, the better the defense will be.  Also, Chicago will need to get Korver to knock down shots while leaving him on the floor, Miami left Korver open repeatedly, and the Bulls failed to turn this into an advantage.

What is Chicago going to do with the offense?

It’s a scary thought, but that’s where we lost this game, and I’m tempted to say the shots simply didn’t fall 15% three point percentage on 20 shots isn’t going to get it done too often.   34% from the field isn’t likely to win many games either.

Does Tom Thibodeau not address the offense because he thinks the shots are good but didn’t fall?   Or more scary, does he not address it because he’s simply so defensively focused that it’s just not on his radar.   Does he really think the Bulls can win this series scoring under 80 points?

I’m going to assume it’s the first.   The Bulls generated plenty of open looks for Luol Deng and Kyle Korver that simply didn’t fall.  Derrick Rose has a terrible night finishing around the basket missing numerous shots he typically would hit.

Plenty of reason to be encouraged by last nights game though

As deflating as that loss was for Chicago last night, the Bulls have blown out the Heat once and loss in a fairly close game once.   They’ve held the Heat in check with their defense in both games.

The worst fear of Miami was that the Bulls wouldn’t contain their star players, that Miami’s offense would prove too great.  However, despite a brilliant run by LeBron to close game two, we haven’t really seen that.

Chicago’s done a great job dealing with Miami, and I feel more confident right now tied at 1-1 than I did when the series started at 0-0.   The Bulls are going toe to toe with Miami and have every chance to win this series.

Miami did their job, time for Chicago to do theirs

The Heat earned a split in Chicago.  Now Chicago has to go down to Miami and earn a split there.  Despite the loss, I feel absurdly positive about game three for Chicago.


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  • I'm with you in the positivity. Before the series, I had the Bulls in 7 but was dreadfully nervous going into Game 1 given the Bulls up and down playoff run so far. Now, I'm pretty confident the Bulls can play with the Heat and that might initial doubts about the Heat (respect them but don't fear them) have merit. The are the best team in the league 1-3, and the worst team in the league 4-15, even with Haslem. It would be awesome to be up 2-0 and have the Heat on the ropes, but I still like the Bulls' chances in 7 if they keep up the defense and just play even mediocre offense.

  • The issue comes obviously from the offensive end. And it isn't because of miami defense but because of the lack of scorers in the bulls' roster. One should yell at boozer. Boozer is the definition of deception.disappointment.

  • 1. I think it has been discussed before and it will be an article for Doug after the season(hopefully after a championship). Whatever happens, the Bulls need a NBA starter type SG(equivalent to Courtney Lee, Affalo etc..)obviously but a "genius" offensive assistant coach. If there is one already on the team, it is not obvious or that person is not good enough. Thibs was the defensive mastermind at Boston and he needs somebody to take the responsibility off the offensive side now. Whatever Boozer's issues are, he used to produce in Utah a little better than with the Bulls. Somebody who can study their strengths and make them produce a "little" better with different offensive sets. This is not acceptable especially considering they have so much stability in the starting rotation compared to the other teams.
    2. That said, Thibs is kind of right though. When Asik, Gibson and Brewer were going crazy, the Bulls stopped the Heat and made a comeback. Do we need shooters when you have 70-80 pt game and you are in the 60s with 8/10 min to go. Imagine if Asik/Gibson/Brewer closed...probably the Heat might have got another 6-7 pts less. The Bulls could have scored 6-7 more points...That was enough to win. This was not a Golden State type of team to need so much offense as per Thibs.

  • It's my hunch that Thibs finds it more important to harp on defense than offense because of how players view offense vs. defense. This is a brash generalization, but NBA players just love offense (even natural defenders). Coaches don't have to incessantly deliver offensive messages, because the players are more receptive to them. Defensive discipline on the other hand requires repetition. Thibs is also crazy.

  • Doug, thats just Thibs M.O. He's been in the league for over 20 years. I think his outlook were to the 50/50 balls, the lack of energy the Bulls had in the 4th quarter as well as getting beat by a guy who hasn't played all year. What I wanted to know was why was Kyle Korver in the game as long as he was when he was getting beat on pick and rolls all night long while missing wide open shots. If Thibs assessment were true that they had to play "better defense," why did he sit Brewer and Asik the last 6 minutes of the game? I know Asik had a cut chin, but he came back to the bench and sat? Korver continued to follow his man late off of the pick which allow his man to recieve the ball and make plays or passes with him trailing! Guys were trying to cover up for him, but Lebron and Haslem were able to recieve the ball either in a comforable spot on the floor or recieve thye ball with a lot of time on the clock. I was screaming for him to get Korver off of the floor.

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Al, I was screaming the same damn thing, between the two of us I'm surprised Thibs didn't hear us! Or, of course, maybe he did but he's just too stubborn.
    Look, if, in the 4th Q, the Bulls can play anything like the lockdown D they played in the 4th Q of game one, with Rose, Deng, Asik, Brewer, and Gibson on the floor, they oughta be able to generate just enough offense to get the win. Out of those 5, only Omer is pretty much a stiff on the offensive end. Brewer is pretty crafty especially with his roaming the baseline for easy looks, plus it looks like he's feeling more comfortable with his thumb and all - while we all cringe when he shoots, he ain't that bad, and it sure as hell looks like Taj has every bit the post-up game that Booz has these days. I would give Korver some minutes in the second Q, and if he's feeling it that night, ride him like Secretariat, otherwise the risk is NOT WORTH IT.

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    I also think the referees were for the heat yesterday. I didn't like at all the officiating of that game.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    it was 8 on 5, really was. Especially at the start of the 2nd quarter. They just completely took the bulls aggressiveness out of them.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    maybe 6-5, as it really was one zebra in particular in that 2nd

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I've only seen the first quarter DVR'd after work. Miami adjusted well offensively from what I saw using cross court/low post double big screens for Deng etc. to run through. It left a baseline cutting LeBron wide open near the basket. And diving Bosh on the pick and roll left an incredibly slow defensive reacting Boozer rotating about as swiftly as a corpse. It's plays like that that embolden another team, and take all the defensive momentum/pressure off. In the end, as a supposed starter, Boozer's so sub-par defense really will kill you in the end.

    Honestly Joakim has looked so passive and a shadow of himself to me especially not being able to convert put backs. His numbers 9 and 6 are not going to get it done. It's hard for me to blame it on injuries as fluidly as he seems to run the court. He has just looked so passive and regressed since comign back from that ankle injury right when he was coming around. I'm not hating on Joakim he probably will come back to warrior status at some point though that may be next year. I just hope his offensive game he showed for a month this year wasn't an illusion as he has looked so passive from the high post that he almost looks like a rookie again. All he does is give the ball up, and try to set up those old fashioned picks where he puts his hand behind his back ala Bill Wennington. Doesn't anybody on the Bulls know about running to spots on screens which is much more effective?

    I thought with Boozer an offensive shadow of himself and Noah dropping off the map that the Bulls just aren't a legit offensive team to win it all. But if Derrick can get to the basket, and go off scoring with Deng and one other guy going off in three more games maybe they can pull it off.

  • In reply to MikeKeane:

    Eh, Noah had a tremendous game one, and I thought he played better and better as the Atlanta series went on.

    He didn't have a great game last night, but I don't think he's playing passively or poorly.

  • In reply to MikeKeane:

    Agreed on everything you had to say about the offense.

    However, just one small point about Thibs and the Defense ...

    With the game tied and less than 5 minutes remaining, the Defense fell apart a little.
    That Lebron/Bibby screen roll ... or whoever Korver happened to be playing each time ... was a disaster.
    Perhaps the biggest shot of the game was Lebron's 3 there at the end ... and while maybe it was just a great shot and he hits it no matter what, our defense basically handed him a nice easy wide open look.

    Other than that, there may be a few minor things to take care of, but that was the glaring one for me.
    That needs to be addressed before Sunday.

  • In reply to ChiRy:


  • In reply to ChiRy:

    There were a couple times I felt we got bad calls, but the Bulls had a lot of bad calls in their favor as well.

    It was more so just a badly reffed game than one that was really reffed against us.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    That one ref got us into foul trouble with his back to back poor calls in the second quarter, right as the Bulls were turning it on and extending the lead. I agree that I saw many go our way as well but those couple in a row made it so any fouls would be shooting which I am sure was a factor and limited the Bulls defensive intensity. The one where Watson tipped the ball and dived on it was ridiculous.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Doug-Kind of like a child who is comforted by the reassurances of a parent-you saying "Despite the loss, I feel absurdly positive about game three for Chicago", makes me feel much much better-I'm not kidding. I hope your feelings prove prophetic.

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    you are wasting ur time. We didn't the game because of D but because of offense even if Korver didn't defend well or asik wasn't on the flour. The shots must be knocked down by the bulls. That's it.

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    I agree with Thibs 100%

    Look, the Bulls are the #1 defense in the nBA, the #1 rebounding team. That's their identity. They need to play like that, and they didn't. His job is to get them playing as they are capable of. What good is it going to do to say their shooting was terrible? He can't fix that. What he can help control is D & effort. Just like game 1, there was no defense opening this one up. They allowed layups, dunks, easy inside scores. They couldn't get easy scores on offense b/c their defense & rebounding wasn't getting them in transition.

    The Bulls personel isn't changing at this point in the season. Maybe in 2 years our offense can carry this team at points, but its not now against the 2nd best D. They are who they are, and that is a team that gets its greatness from its defense & effort. Like Thibs says, its about not just heart, but "Chicago heart". This was not Chicago heart.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Holding Miami to 85 points IS great defensive effort.

    The Bulls aren't going to win another game in this series if they need to hold Miami to less than their game two total of 75.

    They aren't going to hold Miami to 74 points, it's just not going to happen.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    See my post below: when you adjust for pace and the fact the Bulls defense normally is good it's an average defensive effort for this team.

    That said I don't think the Bulls are likely to hold Miami to 74 points either.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Hey, at least we saw a version of our "A" Game, and were reminded that it handily beats even these guys. Producing it regularly, that's another story... but I remain confident. Let's go win one right back! We always bounce back well from losses, this will be our first chance to do so on the road in the playoffs...

    What CAN Thibs say about the offense? We got lots of shots, early bunnies, frequent open or make-able looks... which didn't go down, from the beginning to the end of games. We have nights like that, and you can usually tell them pretty early... everyone's focusing on how we lost that game at the end, but if we make our early shots, we're playing with a lead and taking pressure off our defense, it's a whole new ballgame. But we have Those Nights, and we often lose on them. Where do they come from? I suspect an over-emphasis on defense in practice, at least... but what else CAN Thibs say? How about "I'm going to give Taj a start"!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Really, our offense wasn't all that bad, we just simply didn't hit shots. Bogans, Korver and Deng all missed a bunch of pretty open 3's that they normally hit at a better than 15% clip.

    Our TO% and OffReb% were very good, certainly above average.

    But our defensive rebounding was below average, and as others have mentioned our pts/100 poss allowed was higher than our season average, even though the Heat were below their season average.

    But if our 2/3 position just hit a few open 3's, we are right in that game. I don't think it was bad offense, just bad shooting.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    What's crazy is that it wasn't just Thibs harping on defense during the post game. It was everyone interviewed (except Boozer!). They really have been brainwashed (for the good) about the importance of defense.

    And I agree with you. I think they got quality looks at the basket and aren't overly worried about offense. I think we can expect them to shoot better from the field. I think we can expect Derrick to hit more of his shots. And we damn well better expect to hit more free throws. Miami played tough D, sure, but we are perfectly capable of scoring enough to win provided that our defense stays as good as it did in Game 2.

    Doug, what do you think about Noah subbing in for Omer towards the end? We should've stuck with Omer IMO.

  • In reply to HINrichPolice:

    Noah wasn't guarding Lebron, Deng, Korver and Rose were.

    I might have gone with all 3 bigs, Noah Asik and Gibson since Korver wasn't hitting jack.

  • In reply to HINrichPolice:

    AS I said when we hired him, you cannot be a defensive guru without having a total understanding of offense. thibs know that if we play defense the right way, the rest of the game will come, and sometimes you just miss shots.

    While Rose struggled with his game overall, Korver just could not hit a wide open shot.

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Look at every Bulls playoff loss and you'll see Thibs Penchat to bring in Korver in the fourth quarter to guard a point guard.

    I'm thinking Thibs is choking and can't think in close games. Hence, Korver on PG's in every playoff loss, D. Rose on the floor to injure himself in a lost game, pulling a C Web and calling a timeout that they didn't have.

    These aren't rookie mistakes, these are warning signs.

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    Saying the Heat have only scored 85 or less 5 times is pretty meaningless. The Heat don't usually play games where there are only 83 possessions either. When you adjust for pace the Bulls only kept the Heat 9 points per 100 possessions under their season average. Given the Bulls defense during the season averaged 7 points per 100 less than the league average (against a soft offensive schedule given they play in the East), it was a pretty average defensive game for the Bulls.

    Obviously the offense needs to be better ... much better ... but the defense could still improve too. Although that's mostly up to Thibs and how much he's willing to play Asik. Personally I'd play him as much as possible, sub him in at the time Bogans sits for Brewer and leave him out there unless he's in foul trouble or he needs a rest.

    Offensively it's all about hitting those threes, the Bulls are unlikely to shoot 3/20 again, and if they start hitting outside shots the inside shots will be easier. They did a terrible job finishing at the rim, mostly because all the defense was there, they were giving up the outside shots happily. Well, the lack of movement making it predictable hurt too.

    All year the Bulls have lived and died by the three, even though they don't take a huge number relative to the league. It's just that when the starters hit them at even a 36% rate they're so much tougher to guard.

    Personally I'm pretty discouraged by the loss, I feel if the Bulls had won that game it'd crush Miami and they might have even swept. Now Miami will be more confident, and they'll know that they can come closer to matching the Bulls on the boards if they play Haslem. Going to be tough from here, Miami split the series 1-1 without really playing that well in either game, I'd say Miami have reclaimed favouritism quite handily, unlike Doug I'm less confident than with the series at 0-0.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    9 points per 100 possession below their season average is a pretty big win for the Bulls, I'd hardly call that an 'average' performance. It was still above their own standards against one of the more difficult offenses to stop in the league.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Well it's average by the Bulls standards is what I mean (when you figure in the home court advantage the Bulls have had this season it's actually below average for the year). Obviously an average defensive night for the Bulls is a once in a season event for a team like the Raptors. ;)

    I just think when you're in a series where maybe you're the underdog you can't be satisfied with just an average performance, you need to get more. I'm glad the Bulls think they need to do better on defense, because chances are they wont win the series by just playing to their averages from here on out.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I think you are right on the money with your thoughts about the Bulls. This is their second time losing the home court advantage and I doubt they are able to get it back this time meaning this series will probably be over in 6 games with the Heat advancing to the finals... I really really hope that I am wrong about my prediction but the Bulls brought this on themselves with their poor offensive showing in game 2.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    And Thib also should have stuck with Brewer, not Korver, imo.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Agreed but its a tough call as to when to pull Korver cuz he can get hot in a hurry.

  • In reply to bullswin60606:

    Actually, Korver has a 'tell' that usually indicates if he is going to be 'on' or 'off'.

    When he starts off games by settling for one-legged shots while he is moving diagonally in a direction (shot clock about to expire shots not included), it's going to be a long night. When he waits to take set shots, or uses picks to adequately space himself from the defender, he is usually okay.

    He started off the last game 'all wrong', and never recovered.

    So, if he comes into Game 3 and immediately jacks one of his one-legged specials, Thibs should pull him post haste and have a talking with him.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Offense was definitely the problem. Deng should have been driving more. Thats when the team is at their best offense.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I think until we hold a team to zero points Thibs will always say we need to improve on D. Also, if the Bulls would have hit 40% of their shots they he's prolly fine with teh offense knowing we simply need to hit the shots.

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