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A tale of two game-winning attempts in Bulls/Mavs

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to time-out or not to time-out?

Dallas Mavericks v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It’s interesting to consider how the story changes if Butler hits another game-winner last night. All of a sudden the Bulls are on a real roll (outside of the contagion outbreak that tanked a few games) and mostly because Jimmy Butler had morphed into one of the great clutch players in NBA history.

Instead it’s another loss to a purportedly-inferior team, with Dwyane Wade getting all philosophical afterwards. Butler’s spectacular 2017 has bailed out his team of some poorly-performed games, including one where it becomes necessary for a game winner against the Mavericks at home. And Butler was still fantastic last night, and did hit a late go-ahead jumper in the final minutes yet again. But instead of what we’ve seen in the Bulls wins of this new year, instead it was the opponent who converted in the final moments.

And both plays showed an interesting contrast in coaching styles. Rick Carlisle chose not to call a timeout after seeing his team down late, and his team got a wide-open three-point attempt out of it.

Carlisle explained after the game “"It creates unpredictability," Carlisle said. "Plus, (Rajon) Rondo knows all (our) plays."

And indeed the Bulls defense was confused:

“Dwyane, instinctive player, went over on the help, and then we didn’t rotate over from the top,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We needed to obviously do a better job of staying in front on the other side.”

Hoiberg’s words placed the primary blame on Mirotic getting blown by, which started the chain reaction, but there was more too it. In his postgame comments, Wade indicated he wanted to stay home on Matthews so as not to give up a 3-pointer, but he heard the Bulls sideline telling him it was his rotation. Then no help defense followed behind him once he saw Williams headed for the lane.

Wade also confirmed the Bulls were planning to switch the pick-and-roll instead of working to fight through it, which put Mirotic in the position of having to guard a quicker foe. Butler had picked up Williams at half court.

“It was bang-bang,” Wade said. “There was a lot of communication going on from the sideline, guys trying to help us out and tell us where to be. Deron kind of got a step on someone and I was staying home with Wes and I kind of got yelled (at) that it was my rotation. I was stuck in the middle.

With the Bulls now down, Hoiberg did call a time-out. And...this was the result.

Indeed it was great defense by Matthews, but all sorts of things were going against the Bulls here. First of all: the play, such as it is, develops too late. And instead of running some high screen action to spring Butler like what worked against Memphis, it is a total clear-out. And worse, Dwyane Wade is placed on the same side allowing for the Dallas defense to easily take out both once Butler can’t get to the middle.

It’s just two plays, and heck Wade could’ve made a miracle birthday shot and the Bulls are inching back up to the 5th seed once more. But it can underscore how the margin of error is so small due to do the flaws on the team that hurt them all game, that even Jimmy Butler couldn’t bail everybody out this time.