Breaking down Sixers Game 2 rout of Bulls
There's a reason Doug Collins was regarded as one of the NBA's best television analysts.
After Tuesday's victory at the United Center, Collins sat down in the interview room and listed the reasons why his Philadelphia 76ers dominated the Bulls in Game 2 of their playoff series.
His primary topics were defensive field-goal percentage, keeping the Bulls off the offensive boards and finally getting top scorer Lou Williams on the board.
"We're not a great half-court team," the 76ers' coach admitted. "As much as I like to work on our offense and try to help us, we're just not a great half-court team. We don't have a great post presence.
"When we're good is when we get in the open court. Points off turnovers, fastbreak points — those kinds of things are when we really thrive."
The second half of Game 2, when the Sixers outscored the Bulls 62-37, was as bad as the Bulls have played all season. Let's face it, the same thing might have happened even with Derrick Rose on the floor.
There's not a single explanation for the second-half domination, but a number that stands out is Philadelphia's 25 fastbreak points. The Bulls allowed a larger number just twice in 66 regular-season games.
But here's the strange part: The Bulls piled up 18 turnovers in Game 1, then had just 8 in Game 2. The Sixers were credited with 10 steals in Game 1 and 7 in Game 2.
So the fastbreak points were a symptom of Philadelphia's defense combined with the Bulls' shot selection.
The third quarter — which started with a 19-4 Sixers run, then ended with a 13-3 surge — simply featured too many long jumpers, which set up several five-second scoring possessions for Philadelphia.
The Bulls shot 5-for-20 from the field in the third quarter and grabbed just 1 offensive rebound out of 15 chances.
Williams wasn't the Sixers' leading scorer Tuesday, but his contributions were significant.
In the first four Sixers-Bulls games this season, Williams averaged 9.5 points and shot a ridiculous 23.5 percent from the field (8-for-34). The 6-foot-1 guard finished with 20 points in Game 2, but scored 15 in the second half on 7-of-10 shooting.
"When Lou plays like that, he makes us a different team," Collins said. "This (Bulls) team had done such a great job on him all season long. I just sat around (Monday) and tried to figure out some things we could do to help him.
"The guys did a good job with that. We got him some baskets, and it sort of opened up our whole game for us."
Collins didn't tell the Bulls anything they didn't already know, but he supplied a clear blueprint for Philadelphia's 109-92 victory in Game 2.
Once again, this appeared to be a case of the Rose-less Bulls getting complacent after building a halftime lead.
Joakim Noah and John Lucas III led them on a 23-12 run to finish the first half and the Bulls neglected to bring any sense of urgency back from the locker room. The same thing happened several times late in the regular season, in home losses to Denver, Houston and Washington.
The problems can be corrected with more attention to defense and shot selection. In that nasty third quarter, Noah and Carlos Boozer took just 1 shot between them and didn't score.
One potentially disturbing sign is the Bulls' inability to stop Sixers guard Jrue Holiday. He scored 30 points in the March 17 regular-season game when Rose didn't play, then hit 11 of 15 shots for 26 points in Game 2.
"He has to stay on the attack," Collins said of Holiday. "I don't want him to think like a true point guard. I want him to think like a scoring point guard."
Is it possible C.J. Watson can't handle Holiday defensively? A deep rotation creates plenty of tough choices for coach Tom Thibodeau.
Should he turn more often to Ronnie Brewer, the team's best backcourt defender? Should he bring back Lucas earlier than usual after an 11-point outburst in the final six minutes of the second quarter?
There's a natural tendency to panic after an alarming loss. But the reality is, the series is tied at 1-1, the Bulls are perfectly capable of winning games in Philadelphia, and they have shown a remarkable tendency to rebound well from losses the past two years.
"It's just one game," Lucas said. "We've got to gut-check one another and get ready for the challenge on Friday (in Game 3). It's just a matter of washing this game off and get ready for Friday."
Added Luol Deng, who hit 3 of 12 shots in Game 2: "We're together. We lose together, we win together. Tonight, we didn't defend together. We'll get together and get it back next game."
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