Posts Tagged ‘Ronnie Brewer’

Rosen’s Report: Heat at Bulls

Miami is still reeling from a pair of home-and-home losses to the Boston Celtics. The Heat need a win in Chicago to keep alive their chances of earning the top-seed in the East, and also to demolish suspicions that they lack heart and are only wannabe champions.

Fresh from their gutsy, Rose-less, bounce-back win versus the Knicks, Chicago simply wants to douse any title hopes the Heat might have.


  • LeBron James must have his way when variously working against Luol Deng, Ronnie Brewer or Kyle Korver. This means that LBJ has to knock down his jumpers, minimize his domination of the ball and make quick decisions to keep Chicago’s alert defense on the move. Contrary to many of his past playoff performances, LeBron must also deliver the goods if/when the game is up for grabs. At the other end of the court, the self-proclaimed King has the size, strength and foot speed to play bothersome bump-and-grind defense against Deng, but can also be beaten off the dribble because his balance is sometimes compromised when he leans forward looking for a steal.
  • Dwyane Wade can easily out-quick and overpower the veteran defense of Rip Hamilton, and also has the legs to tailgate Hamilton’s (and Kyle Korver‘s) perpetual motions. D-Wade must, however, remain mindful of Brewer’s timely off-the-ball cuts. If Wade can bag his jumpers, then driving lanes and pull-up opportunities will become available. Even so, because of Chicago’s gang-up defense in the paint, Wade must also look to make accurate kick-out passes when surrounded in the shadow of the hoop.
  • Although he has adhesive hands, Carlos Boozer is slow off the floor, can no longer take his dribble to the rim, is utterly defenseless and has a history of choking in the clutch. Oh, and his son is a diehard Miami fan. Chris Bosh has the capability of scoring against him from near, far and all points in between, but needs the space and the ball-time to do so. Above all, Bosh’s jumper must be on-target.


Film Study: Bulls On A String

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — With their 95-64 dismantling of the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday, the Chicago Bulls finally took over the No. 1 spot in defensive efficiency, allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions for the season.

The Philadelphia 76ers had been holding on to the top defensive ranking for most of the year and are still just a hair behind the Bulls, but it seemed to be just a matter of time before Chicago took back what was rightfully theirs.

The Bulls were the No. 1 defensive team in the league last season, and could be the first team to lead the league in defensive efficiency two seasons in a row since the San Antonio Spurs did in 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06.

The Bulls are great defensively because…
1. They play hard, bringing energy to every defensive possession.
2. They play smart, knowing how to best defend their opponent.
3. They play together, on a string, knowing where to be depending on where their teammates are.

The following play is a great example of all three, even though the opponent scores a basket.

Deron Williams runs off two screens on a flare to the right wing. On the second screen, C.J. Watson gets taken out of the play, so Joakim Noah hedges off his man to help. Williams gets the ball to Jordan Farmar, who runs a high screen-and-roll with Kris Humphries. Noah hedges again until Ronnie Brewer can recover. As Noah hedges, Luol Deng helps from the weak side on Humphries’ roll. Not knowing where Humphries is, Noah retreats to the basket, before closing out on Humphries at the free throw line.

When Noah retreated to the basket, it was the right play, because defending the basket is more important than defending the foul line. But it did cause Deng to hesitate in getting back to his man. And that half a second of hesitation allowed Keith Bogans to crash the glass and get the put-back. The Nets scored, but we saw just how well the Bulls’ defense rotates on a string.

Rebounding is one thing the Bulls aren’t doing as well as they did last season, when they ranked third by grabbing 76.2 percent of available defensive boards. This year they rank 17th in defensive rebounding percentage, grabbing just 73.8 percent.

But they’re still the No. 1 defensive team in the league, because they hold their opponents to a low shooting percentage, and they keep them off the free throw line.

Bulls’ defense, last two seasons

Season DefRtg Rank OppeFG% Rank DREB% Rank OppTO% Rank OppFTA Rate Rank
2010-11 97.4 1 46.3% 1 76.2% 3 15.1 11 .291 9
2011-12 93.8 1 44.9% 3 73.8% 17 15.3 21 .236 4

DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
OppeFG% = Opponent effective field goal percentage = Opp. (FGM + (0.5*3PM)) / FGA
DREB% = Percentage of available defensive rebounds obtained
OppTO% = Opponent turnovers per 100 possessions
OppFTA Rate = Opponent FTA/FGA

Defending the rim without fouling is not easy, but the Bulls do it as well as anybody. Their opponents attempt just 31.1 percent of their shots from within five feet of the basket, the fifth-lowest rate in the league. And in that range, their opponents shoot just 54.6 percent, the league’s lowest percentage.

Carmelo Anthony is one of the best players in the league at getting to the line, attempting 39 free throws for every 100 shots he takes from the field. But in a recent game against the Bulls, he had 26 shots from the field and just six free throws. Here are a few examples of how the Bulls stopped Anthony in the paint without fouling.

The Bulls rank first in the league in defending 2-point shots. They only rank 10th in opponent 3-point percentage, but that’s OK, because only 15.8 percent of their opponents’ shots are 3-pointers. That’s by far the lowest rate in the league.

To prevent threes, the Bulls aggressively close out on perimeter shooters, especially if they’re in the corner. Corner 3-pointers are the second-most efficient shots in the game (after those taken within five feet of the basket), which is why the Spurs use them as a weapon in their offense. It’s also why the Bulls do their best to prevent their opponent from shooting them.

Through Friday, no team has played more games than the Bulls. And no team has allowed fewer corner 3-point attempts. In 29 games, they’ve allowed just 76 shot attempts from the corner. And in their last five games, Bulls opponents are just 1-for-13 on corner 3-pointers.

Here are a couple of examples of how the Bulls get their opponent out of the corner…

Play 1: After swinging the ball around the perimeter, the Knicks run a high pick-and-roll with Landry Fields and Amar’e Stoudemire. Fields hands the ball off to Iman Shumpert and then flares to the left corner. After hedging onto Shumpert, Kyle Korver closes out hard to prevent Fields from getting a shot off. Fields passes to Stoudemire, who misses a contested, mid-range shot.

Contested, mid-range shots are exactly the shots you want your opponent taking. And 35.4 percent of shots that the Bulls allow are from mid-range. That’s the second-highest rate in the league, behind only Orlando at 35.6 percent.

Play 2: The Celtics run a (slow-developing) play to get Ray Allen a three from the right corner. After setting a ball-screen, Allen runs off two screens and across the baseline, as Mickael Pietrus vacates the right side. Korver trails Allen, but still closes hard enough to prevent the three. And Deng, after leaving his man Pietrus, is there as well. Allen has to put the ball on the floor, but he finds Pietrus in the opposite corner for an open three.

The Celtics got an open corner three on that play, but it’s easy to see where the Bulls’ priorities were. A corner 3-pointer from Ray Allen, who is shooting 58 percent on them this season, is as dangerous a shot as there is in the league.

Still, the Celtics got an open three by quickly swinging the ball to the weak side. And that’s where you’ll get some opportunities against the Bulls, who like to load up on the strong side of the floor and take away the opponent’s No. 1 option.

Here’s an example of how the Nets got a wide-open corner three for Bogans. Williams curls through the middle and takes a handoff from Humphries, who screens Derrick Rose. Noah hedges and Williams quickly gets the ball to Humphries at the foul line. Brewer has no choice but to help from the weak side, and Humphries finds Bogans in the corner for the open three.

The key there was the screen and quick ball movement to get the Bulls’ defenders moving. If you can draw a double-team like that and then quickly get the ball to the other side of the floor, you will find an open shot.

But the Bulls make those opportunities hard to come by. They play hard, they play smart, and they play together. And they force you to take the least efficient shots on the floor.


John Schuhmann is a staff writer for Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

Rosen’s Report: Bulls at Heat

With the ancient Celtics having recently exposed the Magic’s lack of heart — not once but twice! — the Bulls and the Heat are currently the only viable contenders to rule the Eastern Conference.  Sunday’s game in Miami provides a wonderful opportunity for Chicago to chill the Heat’s championship pretensions.

Meanwhile, the home standing Heat have the opportunity to prevent the Bulls from even dreaming that they can compete on equal terms with the holdover conference champs.  Again, in this compacted and bizarre season, every game has an enhanced and disproportional importance.

HOW THE BULLS CAN WIN: Derrick Rose has become the most potent point guard in the NBA.  Although his unselfishness and considerable ball-time result in his being one of the league’s leading assist-makers, Rose is really the Bulls’ go-to scorer.   That’s because his shooting stroke has greatly improved, he’s nearly as strong as a power-forward, and his quickness and speed are otherworldly.  Indeed, where other players are celebrated for the quickness of their first-step, Rose accelerates as he approaches the rim — making his second- and third-steps incredibly unique.  Also, players necessarily lose a half-beat when they resort to some kind of crossover dribble, but Rose’s changes-of-direction likewise amp up his quickness.  And with Dwayne Wade not at 100 percent, none of Miami’s backcourtsmen can contain Rose.


Bulls Have To Grind With/Without Deng

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Few teams in the league have shown a better understanding of how to survive without a key player than the league-leading Chicago Bulls.

They lose reigning MVP Derrick Rose for a few games with that bad toe and don’t miss a beat.

So while it’s obvious that the Bulls know exactly what to do when one of their big dogs is out of the lineup, it will be interesting to see what they do with Luol Deng on the shelf with that “Kobe Bryant” (torn ligament) in his left wrist.

It’s strange how Deng and Bryant’s names have criss-crossed over the course of Deng’s career. Don’t forget, it was reportedly Deng that the Bulls tried to send to the Lakers in a deal that would have brought Kobe to Chicago years ago. Reports that Bryant was objecting to any deal that included Deng (he wanted to make sure the Bulls had enough talent to compete for a title) is a testament to the value Deng’s peers place on his game.

That’s impressive for a player with no All-Star appearances on his resume yet and is one who is often overlooked when the conversation of the best small forwards in the game comes up.

Even more impressive will be the Bulls’ continued ability to grind through the avalanche of nicks, bumps and bruises that they’ve been able to brush aside so far (16-3 and atop the Eastern Conference and the league). They host the Pacers tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBA TV.

“I know it’s a bad injury and it sounds terrible, but really, I think it will fine,” Deng, who is trying to avoid surgery, told reporters yesterday. “We’ve got a good team, and I think I’m going to be fine.”


Blogtable: Budding playoff star

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Which generally under-the-radar player do you see making a big-time impact in the first-round of the playoffs?

David Aldridge: I see Jeff Green poised for a breakout in Boston. If the Cs hold onto second and play Philly or New York in the first round, you’d anticipate a small ball series, which would allow Doc Rivers to play Green a lot at power forward. I like that matchup of Green over either a Thaddeus Young or a Jared Jeffries or ‘Melo.

Steve Aschburner: Gerald Wallace seemed to disappear with his coast-to-coast move from Charlotte to Portland, so he’s managed to be both an All-Star and under the radar for me. Wallace is a versatile player at both ends of the floor, allowing Nate McMillan to exploit mismatches with Wallace against both bigger and smaller foes. He’s active and aggressive, and he should be enthused by the Blazers’ postseason involvement, period, never mind their prospects.


Bulls Chasing The Spurs For No. 1?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If nothing else, you have to admire the ambition of these upstart Chicago Bulls.

Being the top team in the Eastern Conference is just a part of their end goal for the regular season. Reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer insists they are also chasing the Spurs for the top record in the league, with just a couple of weeks left in the regular season:

“We’re trying to win as many games as we possibly can because we know it’s a tough race in the East,” Brewer said after Monday morning’s shootaround. “We’re not just striving to be the first in our conference. We’re trying to go out there and get the Spurs and have the best overall record in the league.”

They have a 3.5 games behind the Spurs heading into tonight’s action, the Bulls host Philadelphia (8 p.m. ET on NBA TV) and the Spurs host Portland at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Their home records are almost identical (32-4 for the Bulls and 33-3) for the Spurs. And they split their two regular-season meetings. So now all they have to do is make it through the playoffs in their own conferences for any of it to matter.

But again, you have to admire the ambition of Brewer and the Bulls, who have yet to win a playoff series as a group.


StatsCube: Best Bench in Basketball?

On Wednesday in New Jersey, the Chicago Bulls trailed by seven when Omer Asik entered the game in the first quarter, and by four when Ronnie Brewer and Taj Gibson checked in a couple of minutes later. When Asik checked out in the second quarter, the Bulls were up four. When Gibson checked out, they were up eight. And when Brewer checked out, they were up seven.

As great as Derrick Rose is, the Bulls’ bench has been absolutely critical to their success.

The Bulls rank 23rd in the league in points per game off the bench, but in Thursday’s StatsCube analysis of Sixth Man Award candidates, I wrote that the Bulls have the best bench in basketball because of how strong their second unit is defensively.

A day later, I’m going to admit that the “best bench” proclamation was made a little hastily — and with a big emphasis on defense. According to StatsCube, the two best defensive lineups in the league (with a minimum of 100 minutes on the floor together) are Bulls’ lineups that include Brewer, Gibson and Asik.

But the No. 1 offensive lineup in the league is also a bench unit. The Spurs‘ lineup of George Hill, Gary Neal, Manu Ginobili, Matt Bonner and Antonio McDyess barely meets the 100 minutes requirement, but has been amazingly efficient.

That Spurs lineup edges out the Bulls’ lineup of Rose, Brewer, Luol Deng, Gibson and Asik as the best bench lineup in the league overall. And yes, Ginobili, Rose and Deng are all starters. I’m defining a “bench lineup” as one with at least three players who don’t normally start for their team.

Bench lineups with positive plus-minus

Team Lineup GP Min. Off. Eff. Rank Def. Eff. Rank Diff. Rank
SAS Hill, Neal, Ginobili, Bonner, McDyess 23 101 129.2 1 93.6 14 35.6 1
CHI Rose, Brewer, Deng, Gibson, Asik 37 126 113.7 25 83.2 2 30.5 3
DAL Barea, Terry, Marion, Nowitzki, Mahinmi 20 102 117.8 10 97.3 28 20.5 9
PHI Williams, Turner, Iguodala, Young, Brand 31 108 108.8 56 92.3 11 16.6 15
LAL Blake, Brown, Bryant, Odom, Gasol 31 108 118.6 8 104.0 67 14.7 18
LAL Blake, Brown, Barnes, Odom, Gasol 36 175 109.4 49 95.5 20 14.0 20
OKC Westbrook, Harden, Durant, Ibaka, Collison 39 130 109.7 47 96.7 26 12.9 26
DAL Barea, Terry, Marion, Nowitzki, Haywood 44 341 113.2 27 102.2 58 11.0 35
CHI Watson, Brewer, Deng, Gibson, Asik 32 111 86.5 132 77.0 1 9.5 40
OKC Maynor, Harden, Green, Ibaka, Collison 25 130 116.3 13 108.6 100 7.7 47
LAL Blake, Brown, Walton, Odom, Gasol 21 127 103.1 91 95.5 21 7.6 49
DAL Maynor, Harden, Durant, Ibaka, Collison 35 106 104.6 83 100.0 44 4.6 65

Off. Eff. = Points scored per 100 possessions
Def. Eff. = Points allowed per 100 possessions
Rank is among all 133 lineups that have played at least 100 minutes together.

There are a lot of stars mixed in with those lineups, but that’s the way it goes in this league. Lineups comprised of five reserves are rare in this league. The Suns had a very effective one last year, but with all their roster changes, they haven’t been able to capture that same magic.

So even though they’re coming off the bench, it’s critical for bench players to complement their team’s stars and fit the coach’s game plan. The Bulls’ reserves obviously do that. Tom Thibodeau‘s squad ranks just 15th in the league offensively, but is at the top of the Eastern Conference because of its No. 1 defense.

No Miami Heat lineup is listed above, and it’s been said often that a lack of depth is one of Miami’s biggest issues. They rank dead last in the league in bench scoring at 22.2 points per game.

The Heat have five lineups that have played at least 100 minutes together, and they all have a positive plus-minus, but they all include Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Amazingly though, each of Miami’s 15 most-used lineups have a positive plus-minus. That’s a lot of mixing and matching, and it’s all been relatively successful. And though the Heat don’t have any great lineups with at least three bench players, they do have a lot of guys on their roster who have contributed.

Bench players with a positive plus-minus (see notes below):
7: Miami (Chalmers, Jones, Anthony, House, Dampier, Haslem, Howard)
6: Oklahoma City
5: Chicago, Denver, L.A. Lakers, Orlando, Utah
4: San Antonio
3: Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia
2: Charlotte, Golden State, Houston, Memphis
1: Atlanta, Indiana, New Jersey, Portland, Toronto, Washington
0: Cleveland, Detroit, L.A. Clippers, Minnesota, Phoenix, Washington

1. Only players who have played at least 300 minutes and have started less than 50 percent of the games they’ve played in were counted.
2. Players are counted for their current team. For example, Nate Robinson is counted for the Thunder.

So while Miami doesn’t have any reserves who have consistently put points on the board, Erik Spoelstra has managed to find ways to use them effectively.


John Schuhmann is a staff writer for Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

Casspi On Bulls Radar

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The start of a New Year also signals the beginning of our third-favorite season here at the hideout, trade rumor season.

After the playoffs and the draft, nothing throws more players into the mix than the trade rumor season. So what if most of what’s rumored is complete rubbish.

There are always things that pop onto the radar that intrigue us. And this report about the Chicago Bulls have interest in Sacramento Kings swingman Omri Casspi makes sense on so many levels. (The Knicks are mentioned as a team interested in Casspi as well.)

The Bulls have been extremely patient in their pursuit of another quality outside shooter/slasher to help take some of that perimeter scoring load — responsibilities that both Ronnie Brewer and Keith Bogans have tried to assume admirably (though neither of them appears to be versatile enough to handle the job without major assistance).

Casspi showed flashes of being able to handle those duties, even though Casspi is more of a small forward than a shooting guard. Casspi also plays with an edge that the Bulls need and haven’t had since they shipped Andres Nocioni to the Kings in a deal at the trade deadline two seasons ago.

With the Kings rolling around in the mud in the Western Conference basement, this is the perfect time for a young talent like Casspi to be freed from a situation like the one he finds himself in. Who wouldn’t want to go from a 7-24 team in the West to a contender in Chicago that’s already stocked with a superstar and MVP candidate in Derrick Rose, a veteran star in Carlos Boozer and stud big man in Joakim Noah?

Like we said, this one makes sense on so many levels — hypothetically speaking, of course.

Baby Bulls No More!


Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Validation in the NBA comes in many forms these days.

Sometimes it comes before a team has actually validated anything, we do have a King without his own kingdom or crown anymore now that he’s moved to Wade County.

Sometimes that validation comes in the form of expectations of what’s to come.

For example, take the schedule of marquee games that was released earlier this week that saw the Chicago Bulls playing before national TV audiences four times — At Oklahoma City Oct. 27, against Portland Nov. 1, at New York on Christmas Day and at Memphis on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 17).

That’s lofty stuff for a team that played .500 ball (41-41) in each of the past two seasons. The Bulls did make it to the playoffs in both of those seasons, losing in spirited first round series against the Boston Celtics in 2009 and the Cleveland Cavaliers last season.

Having a young nucleus of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Luol Deng, however, is reason for optimism. Adding veterans like Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer is cause for even more excitement. Toss in a new coach, Tom Thibodeau, with championship pedigree and all these prime time appearances for the Bulls make plenty of sense.

“They’ve got everything you need to make a move this season,” said a veteran Eastern Conference executive from a team that will battle the Bulls in the Central Division this season. “They added the right kind of vets and have really done a fantastic job bringing those young guys along. Rose is a star and perhaps the most important thing, they’ve got two years of playoff experience under their belts. They are the clear-cut favorite [in the division] and I expect they’ll challenge for one of those top four spots [in the East]. They’re not the ‘Baby Bull’ anymore.”

The proof will be in what the Bulls do early on this season.

We’ll be watching closely early on to make sure their chemistry is what it needs to be and that Thibodeau is the coach many of us think he will be.

Everything, though, is in place.


Breaking Down The Bulls


Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You want to know why Tracy McGrady won’t be wearing a Bulls uniform this season?

Bulls Insider Sam Smith of explains why. He also breaks down the Bulls’ summer and joins in the chorus (from TNT’s David Aldridge to the HT mid-summer rankings and just about everyone else) of praise for the offseason work done by Chicago’s front office crew. Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Kurt Thomas alone would have constituted some nice improvements at positions of need.

They’ve taken a measured approach to this entire process and don’t appear interested in doing anything hasty at the one remaining spot on the roster that needs some upgrading (in addition to Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson).

There was no sense in ruining a stellar summer with a move that doesn’t fit.