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Why can't the Bulls keep getting easy shots against the Cavs defense?

Cleveland's got major problems defensively. Which means all the open shots the Bulls got in Game 1 likely aren't going anywhere.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball is less complex than we tend to make it, sometimes. I'm sure you've heard the expression 'it's a make or miss league' once or twice. And sometimes, it really is that simple: one team makes shots, the other doesn't. Case closed. End of story. We move on. One might be led to believe that Game 1 of Bulls-Cavs was a classic case of 'make or miss' prevailing. After all, the Bulls made 61 percent of their 41 uncontested shots and Cleveland made 33.3 percent of their 33, according to's player tracking data. Yet, why were the Bulls able to produce eight more open looks than what Cleveland generated? And further, how were the Bulls able to get so many open shots in a game in which they failed to break 300 total passes as a team for the first time this postseason?

Well, for starters, the Cleveland Cavaliers sure as hell aren't the Milwaukee Bucks on the defensive end. The Bucks managed to speed the Bulls up, forcing them to play at a more frenetic pace than they'd probably prefer, which in turn had the Bulls zinging the ball all over the court. Ample ball movement -- while not always done meticulously -- was necessity against Milwaukee's outrageously long, athletic defense. Against Cleveland in Game 1, however, the Bulls played at a much slower pace. A much more comfortable, commanding pace.

Now, make no mistake: the Bulls hit some shots that probably won't continue to fall. Although, it's not exactly implausible to think Derrick Rose might make a bailout shot or two. At any rate, the Bulls were fortunate to some extent in the difficult shot-making department. The uncontested looks, though? That's another matter entirely. Don't be fooled by the result, folks. Take notice of the process because I'd highly doubt those looks are going anywhere.

Cleveland's Defense Is Really, Really, Really Bad

Kevin Love walking through that door wouldn't change this. Love's presence in this series always had little to do with Chicago's personnel base because, if you didn't know, Tom Thibodeau is not a man who embraces change. Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah are going to share the court, Kirk Hinrich is going to see much more of it than necessary, and the young guns -- Nikola Mirotic and Tony Snell -- are all but (inexplicably) out of the rotation. If the Bulls are going out, they're going out Thibs' way, and Kevin Love wasn't going to change that. Of course, missing Love shows up in other areas, and I've touched on that.

But above all else, the Cavs always have -- and will continue to be -- extremely flawed defensively. The strategy to have LeBron guard Chicago's useless offensive parts (Hinrich and Noah) was as peculiar as it was unsound. The only way I can rationalize that choice is by thinking this, in the long run, conserves LeBron's energy if the series goes the distance, or at least close to. For David Blatt to allow Kyrie Irving to guard Rose when Iman Shumpert was the primary point guard defender in Cleveland's series against Boston was equally as confusing. Then, to top it all off, starting Mike Miller essentially cost the Cavs the game.

I understand Blatt is not only shorthanded, but he also must play lineup combinations with little-to-no familiarity with one another. Communication was unnatural and breakdowns ensued:

Above, you'll notice three Cleveland defenders converging on Mike Dunleavy, who is coming off a Noah screen. Tristan Thompson (who we learned will be starting in Game 2) decides to over-commit help on Dunleavy's drive, which allows Dunleavy to dump a pass right in Taj Gibson's lap for an incredibly easy dunk. Basically under no circumstance should three Cleveland defenders be committing to a Mike Dunleavy drive, yet that's what happens. Unacceptable.

Next, Shumpert and James Jones screw up a relatively routine Rose-Noah pick-and-roll. The Cavs' strategy all game was to ditch Noah, yet in the example above, the opposite happens. I'm sure the last thing Blatt wants to see is two defenders leaving Rose scot-free whilst attaching themselves to Noah's hip. Again, Thompson is thrust into a difficult position, and there's little he could do to prevent Rose's layup.

I mean, we're just getting warmed up. Watch how Shumpert runs directly into his own teammate here, inadvertently giving Chicago three points:

Like, you'd think that's pretty terrible court awareness on Shumpert's part, but Miller staying glued to his man like that doesn't allow Shumpert to skate through the action the Bulls are running, which could be avoided if Miller simply warns Shump. A heads up. Anything. Breakdowns like this were everywhere, and they came in all different shapes and sizes:

Here's Matthew Dellavedova getting stuck on Jimmy Butler because LeBron chose to pick up Aaron Brooks for some reason. Granted, things happen on the fly and matchups criss-cross. But the key here is to watch how Gibson walks Thompson up the lane line, thus giving Noah all the space he needs to lead a spinning Butler, which then results in a corner three from Hinrich. Not a blatant breakdown, but a breakdown nonetheless.

Then, of course, we have my favorite offensive possession of the night. Actually, Cleveland doesn't do a whole lot wrong here, but this just illustrates how ill-equipped the Cavs' defense is at stopping Gasol. Who, apparently, they did not care to read a scouting report on as Gasol's one of the best midrange shooters in the NBA.

That's death. There's no answer for that unless the Cavs drastically shift the plan on Rose-Gasol pick-and-rolls. The floor is so perfectly spaced. Rose trusts the pass. Gasol nails the read. Butler finishes the possession. I could watch that thing endlessly.

Which brings me to why the open looks for Chicago aren't going anywhere: Rose is elite with the pass. In particular, the jump pass. What people don't understand is that while Rose is in the air, he's freezing the defense. They're almost in a state of paralysis. Like, check out poor Shumpert on the example below. He doesn't want to give up a Gibson dunk so he's baited into leaving his man at the three-point line. Objectively, not a poor choice in the slightest. But Rose hits Butler literally right on the numbers, with enough zip on the pass, to classify this as one of those uncontested looks.

And as I alluded to earlier, Cleveland's best defensive player guarding Kirk freaking Hinrich -- not a misprint or misinformation, the Cavs legitimately put LeBron on Kirk -- is just a strange choice. Even for Kirk Hinrich, this is too open, and the Bulls are eventually going to make the Cavs pay:

So, do you understand now? Fixating on the results overlooks the process. The Bulls won't stop getting open looks unless, again, Cleveland makes some major changes to their coverages.