Knowing that the primary strength in NBA MVP Derrick Rose’s game is penetrating the lane, you the Bulls fan may watch game five yelling at the tv, telling Rose to echo Rihanna’s famous 2007 hit song: “Shut up and Drive.”
You might point to the fact that his three point game has only really been on once (game three Friday night) in the entire playoffs so far as further proof he should just play “fast don’t lie” to the hole as much as possible.
But that’s not the answer. The key is for Rose is to lead the drive-and-kick came whenever he can, and be the greatest distributor possible.
“I want him to read the defense, so if they’re sagging into the paint, and he’s open I want him to shoot,” Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau said.
“We want to attack better in transition, play with more pace, and in those situations, when the floor’s open he has the opportunity to drive more. He has to score a number of different ways and run the team,” Coach Thibs continued.
By Paul M. Banks
Much has been made of the Bulls struggles in game three on the defensive end. And for good reason, Al Horford’s 9-11 from the floor, Josh Smith nearly having a triple double, Jeff Teague again looking like a All-Star, the Atlanta Hawks +16 points in the paint. But that’s another article for another time.
Thibs will figure out the defensive end and the boards naturally, because I can’t see Larry Drew beating him in the chess match and strategic planning aspect here. Thibs made basketball his entire life, and he won the NBA Coach of the Year for a reason.
It’s really up to the non-Derrick Rose Bulls, not Rose himself. They need to put it through the hoop when #1 gives up the rock. It’s the “pace” Thibs might be talking about. The best news of game four came in the form of Carlos Boozer, who went 7-10 for 18 points and was the team’s second leading scorer. Finally, an answer for his critics.
This was by far his best game of the postseason, and his fellow fourman Taj Gibson has quietly produced very well in the last two games. This gives Rose some legit options to look for right away when the inevitable Hawks double (and sometimes triple teams when he’s in the lane) come down upon him.
“I think if you go in and do the things you’re supposed to do, it all starts with your defense and rebounding, you gotta take care of the ball, you got to to establish yourself in the paint, and share the ball. If we do those things we’ll be fine,” Thibs said.
Counteracting Atlanta’s double and triple teams in the paint by somehow opening up better, more consistent and efficient passing lanes for the drive-and-kick game is Thibs’ first major adjustment. The second tactical resolve is counter-acting the Hawks move to a bigger lineup. Chicago dominated the boards in the two previous games, so ATL went back to a bigger lineup, which worked well against Dwight Howard and Orlando in the opening round.
Seven-footer Jason Collins started at center between Al Horford and Smith, putting Marvin Williams on the bench. Collins played only minor minutes, but the larger presence set the tone early for the Hawks, and they seemed to get inside Chicago’s head.
The Bulls can answer this issue by not backing down and establishing that territory down low.
“We want to be aggressive, penetration is leading to second shots, it’s one thing we have done well, we’re scoring 96 a game so that’s a good enough number,” Thibodeau said Thursday before games three and four.
In each of his first four playoff series, Derrick Rose has seen his series scoring average increase, what’s to make you believe that won’t continue for the rest of this series and possibly the next one? I said before the playoffs started that the Bulls would probably make it to the conference finals, but likely lose to the Miami Heat once they reached that round. Nothing has happened up to this point to make me rethink that prediction.
Chicago, not Atlanta, was their own worst enemy in game four. These problems are easily fixable.
He does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and Facebook