November 18, 2017
Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau
Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau
You know coaches share a similar philosophy when their teams run the same sets on back to back possessions. This happened last night a couple of times when the Bulls and Pacers met at Conseco Fieldhouse. Neither the Bulls (23rd ranked) nor the Pacers (27th ranked) get excessively creative with their offensive play calling, and as a result, they’re both ranked very low in offensive efficiency via Synergy Sports.
Pacers Coach Frank Vogel
Pacers Coach Frank Vogel

This makes perfect sense as both Tom Thibodeau and Frank Vogel are much more renowned for their defensive philosophies, as the Pacers and Bulls are 1-2 in defensive ranking. While the old adage “Defense Win Championships” still holds true, without an offense that generates easier shots, I’m afraid both these teams will leave the playoffs disappointed in a hail of frozen rope bricks at the rim.

Both teams like to rely on very old school offense – UCLA cuts that lead to double down screens on the weakside, as well as flex action. The problem is when you run this offense against a great defense, it tends to stall, forcing your players to fend for themselves on isolation moves as they shot clock expires. Neither team likes to utilize the high post enough, which would relieve pressure and create bigger openings in lane to score and kick out.

Both Indiana and Chicago await the return of their star player – the Pacers hoping Granger can adjust to being second fiddle to All Star Paul George, while the Bulls’ savior Derrick Rose should create more scoring opportunities. While these two will surely help offensively, the shots these offenses create won’t change – and the same difficult shots they get now will be the ones they have a little better chance making later.

Baseline and sideline out of bounds plays are not given enough attention by these two teams – since they could be run to get a good shot within 2 or 3 passes. What many teams don’t realize is the game could be won or lost that way – there are upwards of 12 out of bounds plays run during a game – and most teams simply prefer to get the ball in bounds and start their offense anew. If they could generate a good open shot from this advantageous position and score on 4 of them – that is at least EIGHT extra points, clearly the difference between winning and losing a game like this.

Coach Nick

Coach Nick is the founder of BballBreakdown, coached the Triangle Offense at the high school level, and counts Tex Winter and Pete Newell as mentors. For more of our conversation, follow him @BBALLBREAKDOWN.

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