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Jim Boylen dared the Nuggets to beat his team from the outside. He made a huge mistake.

though he said it’s the players fault

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NBA: Chicago Bulls at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Boylen-brain stuff from last night’s shellacking (the only entertaining part of Bulls games lately) concentrated a lot on defensive strategy. As even the broadcast was noticing this, it was pertinent to ask why exactly were the Bulls going under on screens to allow Denver so much space on their three-point attempts?

To Boylen, it was all by design:

Part of our game plan was to get under, make them make shots off the dribble. And they made some of them. Murray got it going. He looked like Steph Curry out there tonight, making 25-footers off the bounce. You’ve got to give him credit. Those are big shots. They made two shots on unders in the first half. I felt that was good. That was pretty good for us. The second half, he loaded up on us.

Murray indeed was having an outlier of a great shooting performance, but he doesn’t need to “look like Steph Curry’ to get the respect of a defensive scheme. He’s a pretty good shooter!

You can see snarlin’ Kris Dunn in this highlight barrage not only going under by as instructed but also taking weird routes and gambling for steals elsewhere.

Dunn indeed stunk at this yesterday - and right after he launched his exploratory committee to join the leadership council too - but part of his effort was undoubtedly the gameplan from Boylen.

Credit to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic for pressing Boylen on explaining why this was the gameplan:

That’s what we did in Utah. That’s what we did in L.A. And it serves us well. Tonight, they made shots. But they didn’t make all those 3s on under. They made some.

Well right there that’s a red flag in Boylen’s evaluation abilities, because not only has it not ‘served us well’ overall, it especially did NOT work against Utah - a game they were ran away from late but a bogus rally made the final score look better - as Kyle Korver was out there looking like, uh, Kyle Korver.

This was all made worse (though, again, more entertaining than the game) with Boylen taking zero responsibility for the Bulls getting severely out-gunned from the three-point line.

Instead the talk was:

  1. Nebulous nonsense intangibles like ‘getting tougher’. Even poor sweet Lauri Markkannen referenced the ‘amount of loose balls they got’ as a primary reason for the loss. Boylen did have a point about opponents shotmaking affecting their own offensive decisions - like what was Dunn thinking here - but I wonder how much of that is toughness but instead knowing that they don’t have an offense capable of scoring binges while adjusting the defense.
  2. Not having enough shooting on the roster. This is weeks after Boylen said they couldn’t run because they were being ‘out-athleticised’. I wonder how GarPax feel about their drill sergeant telling them their young pace and space roster cannot do either.
  3. Missing ‘veteran guy who is a lockdown defender’ Justin Holiday.

That last bit was a totally serious response from Boylen. Less so was Zach LaVine when asked about it:

“Justin is a real good player,” said LaVine with some confusion, “but I don’t think he’s someone you take him off the team and he’s like LeBron James.”

Boylen should take notice of that, but then again he’s the same guy who professes to not even gameplan for LeBron James, let alone Jamal Murray.