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Bulls defensive rotations need to be better at this point in the season

Will Gottlieb Avatar
April 3, 2022

Bulls defense, not good enough.

Billy Donovan’s first words coming out of the game: “We have a long way to go to be at their level.”

He’s not wrong. The Miami Heat ran laps around the Bulls defense, finishing them off in a 127-109 rout. It was effectively over half way through the 3rd quarter.

127 points on 53.8 percent shooting, 50 percent on 34 threes and 81.5 percent on 27 free throws. They had 28 assists on their 44 made shots. Their offensive rating was 136.6 — well above their 13th rated 112.2 offensive rating on the year.

“When you’re playing against elite teams, either in the West or in the East, I think those are always barometers or measuring sticks of where you have to get to as a team,” Donovan said. “The Heat, this season and what they did the last few years, even getting to the NBA Finals, they’re battle tested. Some of our guys were not battle tested. You have to go through some of these moments.”

The Bulls simply were not ready to execute. Their rotations led to open three after open three and open layup after open layup.

Donovan explained post-game that a lot of the breakdowns, specifically in the first half, stemmed from Butler baseline drives.

“There were some times Butler, driving baseline, and in particular having no where to go, he was behind the backboard,” Donovan said. “We’ve got to recognize on the back side, our 5 man or our center in that pick-and-roll coverage can handle it. Because he’s looking to pass.

“We were in coverage. Our five man [Tristan Thompson] was there. Whoever was in the corner [DeMar DeRozan] was coming all the way across to help as well. So now you have three guys on Butler. Now you have one guy playing across the corner, slot and top,” Donovan explained.

These kinds of rotations are very common and happen plenty of times throughout a normal NBA game. At this point in the season, the Bulls should have this figured out. For some reason, it was a huge problem that cost them a chance to beat one of the top teams in the East.

With this loss, both the Heat and the 76ers have swept the Bulls this season. They’re 0-3 against Milwaukee, who they’ll have another try against the Bucks on Tuesday to get this monkey off their back.

“When you play against elite teams, the adversity, the challenges you go through is what really forces you to grow and get better because you’ve got to confront the truth,” Donovan said.

Better to go through it now than the playoffs, I guess.

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