The Chicago Bulls fell to the Golden State Warriors 101-90 this past Saturday night, a demoralizing loss that featured an embarrassing second half wrought with missed dunks and inter-squad collisions. The game as a whole also featured star point guard Derrick Rose giving up a career high nine turnovers. But, for Bulls fans, the final score wasn't as disturbing as what the playing of this particular basketball contest may portend.
While the rest of us were concocting three-layer bean dips for our Super Bowl parties, the Warriors were cooking up some layers of their own. To wit, a two-man trap was laid for DRose just over the half-court line while a third Golden State defender stuck with the "release men" closer to the basket. This third man then joined the trap as soon as Derrick tried to drive, creating a triple-team that steadily wore down the Bulls point guard as the quarters dragged on.
Of course, it's not like this tactic was completely groundbreaking. The Philadelphia 76ers employed a similar half-court trap on Rose earlier this season (without the third man). And other teams have tried to trap Derrick in a variety of ways. But the addition of the third layer combined with the utterly frenetic pace that the Warriors brought to the table could represent the Achilles' Heel that opposing head coaches have been looking for in trying to beat the Bulls -- especially in the postseason, where teams are more apt to leave it all on the court in their quest for a championship.
So we should hit the panic button right here and now, right? Not quite. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau knows a thing or two about defense himself. He also knows his way around a video room -- and you can bet he's reviewed plenty o' tape over the last couple of days. And he won't be alone. Rose himself vowed to review the tape on the flight to Portland the very next day, telling NBA.com's Sam Smith:
I’ll look at film on the plane, tomorrow. I should be able to point out who is the open guy. We’ll learn from it and hopefully you won’t see this performance anymore.
Confident words from the 22-year-old. Naturally, it's not all up to him. That "open guy" has to hit the shots and with C.J. Watson looking flat-out awful on Saturday night and Ronnie Brewer battling through a bit of a slump, speedy ball-handlers who can counter a fast-paced defensive attack are in exceedingly short supply. This is where being "one player away" really hurts.
Then again, not many teams have lightning-quick, low-to-the-ground guards such as Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, both of whom were red hot that cold Saturday night. (Well, it was cold here in Chicago at least.) And teams may not stick with the triple team if the Bulls can hit more outside shots later in the game or if the center can disrupt the coverage a little more. Omer Asik may be worth a try in this regard -- certainly Joakim Noah will be a weapon when he returns.
At the end of the day, one bad game is just that. But it'll be interesting to see whether the Portland Trail Blazers make more of an effort to trap DRose in tonight's game at the Rose Garden. Tip-off 9 pm.