Listen closely to coach Tom Thibodeau and he'll reveal a few basic portions of the Bulls' strategy.
Before Game 2 against the Brooklyn Nets he talked about committing two defenders to the ball and having to decide what else you can live with.
During Monday's 90-82 victory in Brooklyn, it was obvious what Thibodeau was not willing to live with -- any sort of open space for Nets point guard Deron Williams.
The Bulls' commitment to closing off driving lanes for Williams was obvious in the second quarter, when with Joakim Noah shading toward Williams, Nets center Brook Lopez knocked down four straight jumpers from the same spot near the top of the key.
After the game, Thibodeau claimed he actually was not willing to live with open jumpers for Lopez.
"It's easy to say, 'That's Jo's man scoring.' But Deron Williams is forcing you to do that," Thibodeau said. "Whenever we go to help on Deron, we've got to help for Jo. That's something we can do better. We've got to close harder. We can't give them an uncontested shot."
The Bulls did accomplish their overall goal of keeping Brooklyn out of the paint and Williams under control. The former Illinois star hit just 1 of 9 shots from the field and scored 8 points.
"They did some different things," Williams said after the contest. "They tried to keep me on one side of the court. They definitely stayed with me longer on pick and rolls and tried to trap me a little bit. I don't think I attacked enough. I missed some shots early, which kind of made me passive. The way they were playing me, I just felt like I was getting doubled so I wasn't going to try to force bad shots."
The chess match will continue before Thursday's Game 3 at the United Center. The Nets pointed to a missed 3-pointer by Joe Johnson that could have pulled Brooklyn within 80-79 with just under four minutes remaining as an example of how close Monday's game could have been.
"Deron is such a smart player that I don't think you can give him a steady diet of anything," Thibodeau said. "He plays to win. He's going to make the right play. He is going to hit the open man and you have to recover. He creates so many open shots for his team. Brooklyn missed some shots they made the other night."
Nazr helps again:
Veteran center Nazr Mohammed continued his late-season surge Monday, scoring 8 points and hitting 4 of 5 shots. After the game, Joakim Noah paid tribute.
"The things that he's dealt with this year -- not playing at the beginning of the year, then coming out in the biggest moments and stepping up the way he has -- that shouldn't go untalked about," Noah said. "He was huge for us. We need everybody.
"For us to get to where we want to get to, it's going to take a team effort. I'm very proud of the way he played. He's a class act on and off the court. He works very hard."
Bench gets animated:
The Bulls bench got plenty of airtime during Game 2 by being loud and animated while the game was going on. Derrick Rose even got into the act.
Daequan Cook suggested that the players came up with that plan on their own, not on orders from the coaching staff.
"High energy today. We had to support," Cook said. "We were making a good run. We felt like it was important for us to give a boost of energy off the bench and that's what we did. We're going to save it for Game 3."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.