Over the next few weeks, Jordan Kahn will be providing video breakdowns of key sets and plays from many of the playoff games. Check out previous entires here. Find more from Jordan at Basketball Things and follow him on Twitter @AyoitsJordan.
The 76ers have won three straight games and have taken a 3-1 series lead over the Bulls. Let’s take a look at Chicago’s struggles and the changes that were made.
In Game Three, John Lucas ran the point in the fourth quarter, and the Bulls managed to blow a 13-point lead mostly because of their limited offense. What’s really amazing is that Chicago grabbed eight offensive rebounds in the quarter, yet their offense could still only muster 14 points.
Outside of securing defensive rebounds, Philadelphia’s defense was excellent in the fourth. In the two clips below, Chicago’s offense doesn’t start until the shot clock has run down near 10 seconds, which makes it even harder to score against the Philly defense. In the first clip, the Sixers do a great job forcing Hamilton out to the three-point line to catch the ball, way outside of his mid-range comfort zone. In the second clip, Evan Turner gets around a screen and is in Kyle Korver’s face as soon as he catches the ball.
John Lucas was also a big part of the problem on offense. With Lucas running the point, the Sixers were able to play Louis Williams without paying for it on the defensive end of the floor. Williams didn’t do an exceptional job guarding Lucas, but Lucas went 1-7 in the quarter and didn’t attack the defense in the process. The clips below show his inability to collapse the defense. He also wasted much of the shot clock while exploring offensive options.
In Game Four, C.J. Watson got the call in the fourth quarter. When Evan Turner picked up his fifth foul, Doug Collins put in Lou Williams, but this time the Bulls’ point guard was able to make the Sixers’ defense work a bit harder. Watson put Williams into repeated pick-and-rolls, and Williams had a very hard time getting around Carlos Boozer’s screens. Watson ended up going 2/3 on his wide open shots and set up Boozer for a layup that was blocked (or was it a foul?). The video below shows Williams’ defensive struggles in the fourth quarter.
Although C.J. Watson had an effective stretch on offense, the Bulls defense got burned by Jrue Holiday. Along with playing excellent defense, matching up with Richard Hamilton and Kyle Korver, Holiday hit two huge threes to help fend off the C.J. Watson scoring barrage. Holiday ran a couple of pick-and-rolls, and Watson either got stuck on the screen or chose to go under it. On both possessions, it gave Holiday enough time and space to hit a three pointer. According to MySynergy Sports, Holiday is shooting 37 percent from three as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, and he was having a terrible day at the rim, shooting 2/7 on layups, so Watson’s choice to give him room could be easily questioned.
In order to compete on offense without Derrick Rose, the Bulls need reasonable shooting combined with their league-best offensive rebounding. Without Joakim Noah, it becomes even more unlikely that the Bulls will put together the shooting and offensive rebounding performance that they need to win. One simple improvement for their offense would be to hurry things up; an offense without a go-to scorer can’t afford to waste precious seconds on the shot clock.