The Bulls were off. They played poorly. Passes weren’t crisp. The Warriors were faster (or luckier) at gathering up loose balls. The Bulls seemed confused on rotations…or even about how to keep their man in front of them.
It was just that kind of night.
Still, they kept things close until the Warriors went on a 15-0 run in the fourth quarter. To a certain extent, it was a collapse of Chicago’s league-leading defense (if you go by Defensive Rating). I mean, the Warriors had 31 fast break points. That’s unacceptable.
But this loss highlighted something about the Bulls that has been bothering me a lot lately.
Derrick Rose is amazing. Carlos Boozer averages 20-ish points and is one of the best field goal percentage shooters in the league. Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer…these guys can all score. And yet the Bulls rank only 19th in Offensive Rating (106.0).
Last night, the Warriors — who rank 27th in Defensive Rating (111.0) — held the Bulls to a one-night O-Rating of 100.1. They did it by throwing an unusual variety of double and even triple-teams at Rose. They forced the Bulls out of their comfort zone and lured them into jacking up three-pointers (in you check Chicago’s game log, you’ll notice that the 25 triples they attempted last night was one off their season-high).
The Bulls…shut down by one of the league’s worst defensive teams?
Said Rose: “We were just out of sync. The way that they doubled was kind of weird. Where they had three people on one side, making sure that when I come off the pick two people were on me. If I made the little slip pass somebody was sticking Carlos [Boozer] and it was just tough. A tough night, but we’ll get used to it and I know Coach is going to go over it the next time we have shoot around or practice. It was just something we’ve never seen before I guess.”
Added Boozer: “They tried to get the ball out of his hands which is a smart thing, because once he has the ball other teams are in trouble. We got to do a better job of, when he does pass it, make the right play afterwards. Do some different things. We brought C.J. [Watson] in to try and move D to the two a little bit, get him the ball in different areas. But we’re not going to knock what they did, they did a good job and we got to get better at what we do.”
Another danger of playing the Warriors? Turnovers. They force them. Golden State ranks 2nd in total turnovers forced and they’re 4th in Opponents Turnover Percentage. Sure enough, the Bulls committed 17 turnovers on the night. And some of the turnovers were the results of carelessness.
Said coach Tom Thibodeau: “I thought our turnovers came from over-dribbling, dribbling into a crowd. They were collapsing on dribble penetration. When we made the simple plays and just hit the open man, that’s how we scored effectively. I thought we scored the ball in the first three quarters and then in the fourth quarter we struggled scoring. Usually your turnovers end up being a result of either risky passes or too much one-on-one; it usually falls into one of those categories.”
Before that 15-0 run, the Bulls were down a point. Here’s a quick summary of what Chicago’s offense did while the Warriors were running all over their defense:
Boozer turnover (bad pass); Watson missed 16-footer; Watson missed 12-footer; shot clock violation; Deng missed three-pointer; Rose missed layup; Korver missed three-pointer; Rose missed 17-footer; Boozer turnover (traveling); Deng missed three-pointer.
Lu broke the streak by going 1-for-2 from the line with 4:54 left, by which time the Bulls were down 89-75. Five minutes is a lot of time in NBA terms, but 15 points might as well have been 25 with the way the Bulls were operating on offense.
Too many jumpers, too many turnovers, and what may have been Rose’s worst game of the season. Yes, he had a double-double (14 points and 10 assists). But he went 6-for-15 from the field, missed all five three-point attempts, earned only one trip to the line (and that wasn’t until there were less than four minutes left in the fourth and the team was down double-digits), and committed (gak) a career-worst 9 turnovers.
Bottom line: If Rose doesn’t play well, the Bulls probably won’t win. And don’t think that other teams won’t notice how Golden State’s unusual defense put Derrick through the meat grinder.
Said Rose: “I just got to get used to it. It was weird. Where I couldn’t get a feel for the game because they didn’t let me. Where I couldn’t split. When I dragged it out they were coming out with me. Every pick and roll they trapped and I guess that’s what I got to get used to.”
Thibshas done a great job with the Bulls this season but they’re underachieving on offense. They should be better. I wish I could e-mail Thibodeau a copy of this post by TrueHoop’s Kevin Arnovitz that outlines the value of running more flex sets…how they would be ideal for the team’s personnel.
Even when Noah returns from injury, offense could end up being this team’s Achilles’ heel come playoff time.