PLAYOFF SECOND CHANCE POINTS. TERZ DOWN FOR WHAT.
1) Missed You, Old Friend
Alex Sonty did an excellent job touching on Derrick Rose's night, but the video does all the talking:
I was blown away by Rose's athleticism for the first time in years. And while the dunk and the layups and even the unexpected threes were all great, it was Rose's passing that truly left me speechless. I mean, I've touched on it before so perhaps I should clarify by showing you this example below:
You didn't see that pass make the highlight reel because the result was a Jimmy Butler miss. However, to me, this pass was by far Rose's best of the night. You know who this pass reminds me of? There's only one other player in the league who can make that pass with such ease, and that player is LeBron James. Only LeBron probes, draws attention, then is able to drill a pass to the open man in the corner while his momentum carries him in the opposite direction like that. Anyway, enough about The King. Saturday was about Derrick Rose. I won't go as far as to say Rose is back, but I will say that if Rose looks like that for the rest of these playoffs then the Bulls can beat anybody in the East.
2) Tom Thibodeau Was On Point
Thibs was sharp Saturday night, man. The guy put on a coaching clinic. Amazing how often we (myself included) forget that Thibs is still a hell of a coach. I mean, for the Bulls to come out and get 32 threes against a wicked quick Milwaukee defense? That's big time. The Bulls hardly went to the post, which was an interesting development and something I appreciated. Like, post offense is a halfback dive, four-yard gain type mentality. Whereas I prefer it to be used as a change of pace, as a method to exploit mismatches. Constantly dinking and dunking has its place, and that place is best left in the regular season. I thought Thibs used Pau Gasol perfectly on Saturday night, and it's just a matter of him hitting shots, which I have confidence will happen.
And also, Thibs' rotations were super impressive. In the middle of the first quarter when Rose needed a breather, Thibs went with Tony Snell on the equally long and rangy Michael Carter-Williams. Then, as soon as Jason Kidd brought Jerryd Bayless off the bench: boom, Aaron Brooks was running to the scorer's table. Thibs had Butler guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo throughout much of the game -- which I thought was the right call -- and even showed confidence in Nikola Mirotic by letting him guard Khris Middleton. Which, actually, says more about Middleton than it does Mirotic. I think Thibs is just getting started, though. Really excited to see how the rest of the series plays out tactically.
3) Bucks Defending Dribble Hand-Offs
At times, the Bucks made Chicago feel really uncomfortable on offense, as evidence by the 19 turnovers they forced. But some discomfort is bound to occur when facing an aggressive defensive team like Milwaukee. I thought the Bulls handled Milwaukee's pressure about as well as to be reasonably expected. So more less, I'd just like to show you Kidd's game plan in one particular area: dribble hand-offs.
Milwaukee trapped hard anytime the Bulls tried using Joakim Noah's patented butt screen technique. If Milwaukee is going to take this action away from the Bulls, then I'd expect to see more Taj Gibson as the series moves along. That's not to say Noah played poorly on Saturday, but playing Taj at least forces Milwaukee to pay attention to him seeing as they don't respect Noah as a scorer. The Bucks got all up in Noah's grill when he was in the high post. Prior to game one, I wrote about how I thought Noah's passing could be key, but when the Bulls find themselves searching for offense down the road in this series: Gibson needn't be on the bench.
4) Milwaukee's Three-Pointers
The main area of concern for the Bulls is definitely defense. For as awesome as Saturday night was, the defense simply cannot go overlooked. Chicago was one of the better teams in the league at defending the three-point line this season, but they were pretty fortunate the Bucks missed at least a handful of clean looks from deep. I wouldn't plan on the Bucks shooting 25 percent from three for the entire series. Especially if they are generating open shots. So just something to keep in mind as the series progresses.