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Skiles and playing styles

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As I (and others) touched upon in the aftermath of the Houston game, it was curious that Skiles showed both flexibility and stubbornness in the 4th quarter.

With Ben Wallace not providing much throughout the game, Skiles benched him the entire 4th and went with Mike Sweetney, who played very well in his stint on the floor. Even when Sweetney's time was up, Skiles didn't go back to Wallace, instead going with the small lineup of Hinrich/Gordon/Duhon/Nocioni/Deng to finish the game. They were a collective -6 on the court though, and gave up some key offensive boards. But while it didn't work out, at least Skiles initially saw something wasn't working and changed it up.

Unfortunately Skiles couldn't make another bold decision: to switch up defenders on Tracy McGrady. To be fair he did switch once, as Luol Deng covered McGrady for most of the game until he was getting torched to start the 4th, and then Skiles put Kirk Hinrich on him. However as Deng proved to be too slow, Hinrich was too short, and was allowing McGrady to shoot over the top of him.

Like Sweetney, there was another little-used bench player who could've helped, one who is both taller than Hinrich and quicker than Deng, and that's Thabo Sefolosha. He's not a polished defender but just the athleticism and length could've bothered McGrady more than the Bulls starters did. And with a total of 2 points coming from the starting backcourt I think the potential sacrifice on offense would have been a minimal risk for the rest of the game.

I can't say that it would've worked, but I would have least liked to see it tried. Coupled with a DNP-CD for fellow rookie Tyrus Thomas, the inability to get Thabo in the game made it seem like Skiles was caving into Houston's style of VanGundy-ball, instead of using their youth and quickness to create an advantage. I understand not wanting rookies out there in the 4th, but with their offense being completely dismal up to that point and McGrady heating up, I think it was worth a try.

So recently the Bulls have acquired the label of 'not closing games', as they were ahead during the second half in their last 3 losses. I won't be worried yet, and instead call it a series of unfortunate events. And the 'closing' aspect is misguided, as any of the games could've been blown open at points, and especially in the case of the game against Houston it was more of them taking the win after the game remained close. For me it still comes down mostly to minutes distribution, and the best players still aren't getting the most time.