Bulls vs. Sixers, 2012 NBA Playoffs: John Hollinger suggests going small for Game Five, points out Bulls struggles go beyond injury

John Hollinger weighed in the Bulls struggles in the last 3 games (insider), trying to figure out if everything can be blamed on injuries, and finds that other Bulls simply aren't playing at the level they did in the regular season.

There's a lot there, with 3 main points being offensive inadequacy (including the bench), the Sixers being able to match the Bulls rebounding, and the Bulls fouling too often on defense. These are all things the Bulls were better at, even without Rose, than they were in the regular season.

It's harder to list who he doesn't mention as struggling. Deng isn't, but we know he's been hurt and bad, and Hollinger points out Hamilton's shooting struggles since game one. He even says those who've played sorta-well, like Carlos Boozer, still leave something to be desired.

Boozer, meanwhile, has come closer to living up to his end of the bargain, but only with a huge cost in turnovers. He's had 10 miscues in the past two games and has drawn just four three throw attempts the entire series. As a result, his superficially solid numbers in the three non-Rose games don't look so hot overall: 50 points in 52 shot attempts, with 12 turnovers and just six assists.

There's some jumps in logic in the post. Noah's absence is too easily explained away at points. While he credits the Sixers quite often, it may not be obvious enough. And one could mention the referees playing a part in the Sixers newfound dominance at the FT line, but I do agree that they've been very aggressive and have always had the personnel to do so.

A possible solution to all of this, Hollinger contends, is to go small:

Chicago is offensively weakened enough that it can't afford to play Omer Asik for his defense. The Bulls have to start Taj Gibson -- who is one of their best players anyway -- and play long stretches with Luol Deng at the 4. This frees up minutes for Korver, spaces the floor for everybody, and may even allow some small looks with C.J. Watson and sharpshooter John Lucas on the court together.

Defensively, the cost should be minimal. The Sixers virtually never post up and aren't going to hurt the Bulls on the offensive glass, so Asik's value is more limited in that environment. Deng can guard Thaddeus Young whenever he is in the game, and could probably handle Brand in stretches as well.

This all works for me as a Game 5 strategy (Zach Lowe came to a similar conclusion yesterday), though where he loses me is saying John Lucas should get more time. While Watson has been pretty awful, I have nightmares of how Lucas dribbled the Bulls into a loss in game 3's collapse. But then again, maybe the Lucas lightning-in-a-bottle is one the Bulls few chances to win.

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