NBA Playoffs 2012: 8 Ways Chicago Bulls Can Beat 76ers Without Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose is gone for the rest of the 2012 NBA playoffs, and the Chicago Bulls need to get over it and get back to playing good basketball. Beating the Philadelphia 76ers without Rose won't be easy, but there are some steps the Bulls can take toward making that happen.
It's never easy when a player who averages 21.8 points and 7.9 assists per game is taken from the lineup unexpectedly. The Bulls have been built offensively around Rose and his ability to score at will. They had success in the regular season without him, but the playoffs are a whole new ballgame. That's something the Chicago Bulls are learning very well right now.
Not having Rose completely changes the entire dynamic of their team, and it is something that have struggled to adjust to so far, losing three times to Philadelphia by an average of nearly 10 points.
This team is in great danger of being knocked out of the first round if it does not do certain things to help itself win. That's where I come in.
Here are eight ways the Bulls can stay alive in these playoffs without Rose.
Find a Go-to Guy
The team basketball philosophy that the Chicago Bulls embraced during their regular-season time without Rose is one that should be admired, commended and mimicked. They shared the ball, kept everyone involved and played great team defense.
That philosophy will win the regular season, but it will only win some of the time in the playoffs. During these grind-it-out, half-court games, teams can't always get the best shot by sharing the ball. There will be times when you simply need a go-to scorer who can come up with that miracle shot.
The Bulls had that in Rose, and now they must find it in another one of their players. The candidates have not lived up to the role so far. Richard Hamilton has won a title, but may be too far past his prime to be that guy. Luol Deng has struggled to score since Rose was injured, averaging just 6.5 points per game. Carlos Boozer has never been that type of player and probably never will be.
It is imperative that the Bulls find someone who can be that player. They don't need to do it as well as Rose did, but they did to be able to accomplish it in a few big moments each game.
Win the Points in the Paint
In their three losses to Philadelphia since Rose was injured, the Chicago Bulls have lost the points in the paint battle to the 76ers. That cannot happen for a Bulls teams that has this much skill down low and defensive prowess.
Carlos Boozer has never been a true post player, preferring to face up and score rather than backing opposing big men down. With starting center Joakim Noah out with a sprained left ankle potentially, backups Omer Asik and Taj Gibson must step up and answer the call.
However, it isn't simply restricted to big men. Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton, along with the rest of the Bulls' perimeter players, must not settle for outside jump shots. They need to get in the paint and get to the rim any time they can. That's the best way to cause havoc for the 76ers.
Get Back on Defense
In Games 2 and 3 of this first-round series between the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers, the Sixers have averaged 21 fast-break points per game. The Bulls should be ashamed of that stat as a team that is founded in playing championship-level defense.
In this video clip from Game 3, we see Andre Iguodala grab the rebound from a Bull's missed shot and immediately he and Evan Turner are off to the races. The Bulls must get back on defense and limit these easy baskets in transition for the 76ers.
The Bulls are too good defensively to allow lapses like this to happen. And this isn't something one can blame on the absence of Rose in the lineup. He doesn't make them much better defensively as far as what he brings physically on the court. One could even make the argument that Chicago should be better defensively without him.
Iguodala and company love to get out and run, producing big highlights very quickly. However, it is minute compared to what LeBron James likes to do with the Miami Heat. If the Bulls are struggling with this now against a poor man's LeBron James, how will they fare against the real thing later on?
Get Joakim Noah Healthy
It's bad enough for the Chicago Bulls that they must play the rest of the way without Derrick Rose. They don't need to be without Joakim Noah, either.
Noah is the defensive tone-setter for this Bulls team as the last line of defense in front of the basket. He's also played well on offense this season, averaging 10 points and 9.8 boards per game on 51 percent field goal shooting.
As you can see, Noah is a guy any team would want to have, but only if he's actually out on the court and having his normal effect on the game. The Bulls need to do whatever it takes to get this guy back out there and fighting for them.
It's no coincidence that Philadelphia center Spencer Hawes scored 21 points in the game that Noah got injured in.
Get Kyle Korver Going
Kyle Korver is one of the best bench three-point shooters in the NBA. He plays decent defense, but his main contribution is spacing the floor for Derrick Rose and other members of his team.
In this series, Korver scored 11 points in the Bulls' lone win, making him a difference-maker off the bench. In Chicago's three losses, Korver has averaged just 3.6 points per game, making him just another guy on the bench.
The Bulls need Korver to get going if they are going to come back from the huge hole they are in right now. He's shot just 30 percent from the three-point line so far in the postseason, while he shot 44 percent in the regular season.
Contain Jrue Holiday
This season, Jrue Holiday has proved himself to be one of the best young combo guards in the league. He's continued to build that reputation in these playoffs, averaging 19.7 points, five rebounds and 4.7 assists per game against the Chicago Bulls.
Holiday starts at the point guard spot but oftentimes plays off the ball to increase his scoring opportunities. With plenty of other guys to bring the ball up, like Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia can afford to play Holiday off the ball much of the time.
That has caused problems for Chicago in most of the games in this first-round series. The Bulls must find a way to contain Holiday and keep him from beating them. He has been the Sixers' best scorer in this series.
Play John Lucas III More
The former Oklahoma State point guard has played very well in this series, scoring 13.5 points and dishing 3.5 assists per game off the bench. John Lucas III has also shot 43 percent from three and 46 percent from the field.
Lucas is a spark plug on the offensive end. He's small and quick, and while he is no Derrick Rose, he's their best offensive option at the point guard spot right now. He does give up a bit on defense, but so did Rose at times.
Lucas shouldn't start or anything. C.J. Watson is the better option most of the time. However, Lucas should get more playing time and should even be paired with Watson at times on the court.
Win the Turnover Battle
In every game of this first-round series with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Chicago Bulls have lost the turnover battle. Even in the game they won, they had six more turnovers than their opponent.
The biggest culprit so far in this issue has been starting power forward Carlos Boozer. The big man has averaged 3.3 turnovers per game, culminating in five giveaways in the Bulls' Game 4 loss on Sunday.
Chicago must correct this problem, and the others, now. Each game from here on out in this series has the potential to be the last, and the next one will be if the team's play remains unchanged. A first-round exit would be a massive disappointment for Chicago, and even the loss of Derrick Rose isn't a valid excuse.