Heat Vs. Bulls, Game 4 Adjustments: More (And Smarter) Isolations For Derrick Rose, Stick With Reverse Box-And-One

After losing Game 3, the Chicago Bulls have one more chance to take back the home court advantage, and they will be looking to do that Tuesday in Game 4. If the Bulls want to win the game, they are going to have to make a few adjustments to their strategy.

Offense: More Isolations

Something that Derrick Rose was very frustrated with after Game 3 was the amount of double- and triple-teams that he saw.  The Bulls' steady diet of pick-and-roll offense (something Chicago has been doing since the playoffs began) seems to have finally caught up with them as the Heat are doing a great job of forcing the basketball out of Rose's hands.

Once the Heat adjusted and turned Joakim Noah into a scorer off the pick-and-roll trap, the play became ineffective.  With this offense now ineffective, it makes no sense to put Rose in situations where he can get trapped, meaning the Bulls should give their point guard more isolation opportunities (they had just three isolations for Rose in Game 3).  Despite no scores out of these situations, the direct result of these isolation plays were either clean looks or plays that resulted in Rose getting in the paint:

Without having to face a double-team, Rose was able to break down his man and get himself into the paint.  Once this happens, instead of forcing up shots Rose and his teammates need to be smarter.  A perfect example of this is the final isolation.  Rose breaks Mike Bibby down and gets in the paint drawing help.  This gives Carlos Boozer a perfect opportunity to cut to the rim.  Instead of doing that, Boozer stands and watches Rose take a tough jumper.  When Rose runs isolation and gets to the paint, he is going to draw help, creating opportunities for his teammates. They just have to take advantage.

Defense: Stick With The Reverse Box-And-One

With LeBron James in quarterback mode and Chris Bosh knocking down jumpers, Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls were looking for a way to stop the Heat.  They may have found one with Joel Anthony on the court, running what I have been calling a "reverse box-and-one" where they had one man (the player defending Anthony) playing zone while the rest of the defense was playing man-to-man.  Despite the Heat outscoring the Bulls by two points with Anthony on the court in the third quarter, this defense resulted in some stops:

Here, the Heat run a pick-and-roll with Chris Bosh setting a screen for Dwyane Wade.  Wade goes away from the screen (something that he does a lot, and something Bosh is very good at playing off of).  As soon as this happens, Boozer leaves Anthony to take the pass to Bosh away.  Now, Wade is forced to throw a cross court skip pass to LeBron James.  James makes the catch with 10 seconds left on the clock, dribbles it out, and misses the jumper.

On this play, the Heat are trying to set up Bosh on the block against Noah.  As Bosh comes across, Noah sells out for the pass, knowing that Boozer is basically playing a zone and has his back.  This is what allows Noah to get a hand on the basketball and knock it out of bounds.

Finally, here, the Heat are trying to run a double cross screen for James designed to get him the basketball on the block.  While Noah is fronting Bosh, Boozer totally ignores Anthony.  Because Boozer is zoning up on the block, LeBron is now forced to catch the pass on the elbow instead of the block.  Then after James makes the catch, Boozer simply stays there, taking away the drive on the left hand side.  James is now forced to drive to the middle where there is help forcing him to kick the basketball out to Bosh, who misses the jumper against the shot clock.

So how did the Heat outscore the Bulls when they were playing this defense, and why should the Bulls continue to play it?  Well, most of the baskets the Heat made came from miscommunication, which is something that will happen when you create a defensive strategy on the fly like this (this adjustment came at the half).  After a day of practice and getting the rotation responsibilities down, I expect this defense to be far more effective.  The result?  The Bulls forcing the Heat's hand when it comes to whether or not they keep Joel Anthony on the court.  

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