Derrick Rose made huge strides this season for the Chicago Bulls largely because he harnessed his domain over the jump shot, one of the most critical skills of the modern NBA point guard. Defenses are more athletic and long than ever; without a jumper, point guards face steady diets of paint-packing coverage.
That what the case for Rose prior to this season -- he was amazing at getting to the rim and finishing, but he typically met two or three defenders there, creating an unnecessary burden. Improving both his mid-range jumper and three-point shot forced man defenders to respect his stepback instead of backing up to be wary of his killer first step. On the pick-and-roll, teams now have to hedge the big man or risk giving up an open j.
But all that abandoned Rose on Tuesday as the Bulls suffered a crushing overtime loss in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
Rose shot 5-10 at the rim -- he had two magnificent dunks, and (per usual) a series of nifty layups -- but just 3-17 from three feet and beyond. The attention-grabber is the 1-9 shooting from beyond the arc. Rose hit 33 percent of his three-pointers during the regular season, taking nearly five per game. But he's shooting below 25 percent on threes in the playoffs, taking more than six per game. Everyone has a cold run now and then. But this is well beyond that.
According to Hoopdata's advanced box score (via Tom Haberstroh), Rose shot 0-3 from 3-15 feet and 2-5 from 16-23 feet. The Bulls in total shot just 7-21 on those long two-point jumpers; Miami, by contrast, hit a solid 16-32.
The bad shooting hasn't reversed the progression for Rose -- the Heat are cinching up on him on the perimeter, challenging every shot. But the Bulls' entire offense became predicated on Rose's antics this season. They have no choice but to try to survive through his cold streak. It didn't work in Game 4.