Short-handed Spurs run a clinic against the Bulls defense
The Spurs ran their offense to near perfection, shooting 52% against a Bulls defense that has now allowed 100 plus points in 3 of their last 4 games. It’s rather simple how to make the Bulls look like a bad defense--attack Nate Robinson with pick and roll. Until Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose return, the Bulls will continue to look like an exposed defense.
The Spurs did whatever they wanted offensively against Chicago, and it wasn’t only your typical Nate Robinson and Carlos Boozer blame game. Kawhi Leonard, who came in averaging just a shade under 10 points per game, lit up Luol Deng for a career-high 26 points. Leonard abused the Bulls’ all-star with drives to the hoop and mid-range jumpers. Deng looked lost on both sides of the floor Monday Night. Deng has been flat out awful since being named to his second consecutive all-star game.
While I’m attacking the Bulls for their bad play, I would be remiss not to praise the job head coach Gregg Popovich continues to do no matter what lineup he starts a game with. After watching tonight’s game, you are reminded of how great a head coach Popovich is. Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau still has ways to go before he comes close to being on Popovich’s level. Clearly without Rose we don’t get to see the Bulls at full strength, but I’m tired of playing that card, especially when you see what Popovich does missing more talent on a lot of nights.
The Bulls lost a game by 14 points in which they out-rebounded the Spurs 49-26 (17-2 on the offensive glass). The difference was the turnovers; the Bulls committed 19 turnovers, the Spurs just 8 (one at the half). While it’s easy to say the Spurs defense forced the turnovers, that isn’t entirely true. The Bulls really do not play smart at times and have so many possessions where basic cardinal rules cease to exist in their offense. The Bulls labor on every possession and often make their offense look like rocket science or brain surgery.
The Bulls big men also can’t catch passes to save their lives. Thibodeau needs to do drills where Noah, Boozer and Gibson are just receiving simple bounce passes. It is unreal as to how many times in a game the Bulls big men fumble a ball out of bounds. And when they do catch a pass the result of the shot is always an adventure, especially a contested shot.
The Spurs are NOT the defense they used to be. Sure, they are still top 10 in the league, but keep in mind this is the same team that allowed 119 points in Detroit last Friday night. The Bulls TV broadcast (which is a complete embarrassment) made you believe the Spurs are the same defense that won 4 NBA championships.
While the Spurs currently own the best record in the league, I still don’t believe they will get out of the Western Conference. In fact, you can make a case the Spurs have become the New England Patriots of the NBA. Think about it, the Spurs haven’t won the title since the 06-07 season. I believe Oklahoma City will do enough to advance again. I even feel with another year of experience, the Clippers may be ready and could also beat the Spurs.
I just feel when the playoffs come around, Popovich may rely too much on his big 3, when he should perhaps be looking at some of his younger players to step up and take their game to another level in the big spot.