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The Hawks both out-schemed AND out-’toughed’ Bulls to generate extremely easy offense

The Bulls couldn’t stop John Collins...or the rest of the Hawks

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Chicago Bulls David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Against a fellow tanking team in the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago’s defense was lit up another ‘young core’. The Bulls gave up 42 points in the first quarter and didn’t get too much closer in the 121-101 loss.

Behind John Collins’s career-high 35 points along with 15 from both Taurean Prince and Jeremy Lin, the Hawks had very good offensive night. They had a true shooting percentage over 61 and were finding open shots all over the court.

To combat the offensive threat of Trae Young, the Bulls decided in the second half to double him off any pick and roll action the Hawks ran. While it did slow down Young’s scoring as he scored just 5 points, it didn’t stop him from finding his teammates for easy baskets. Young picked apart Chicago’s defense for 12 dimes and had even more of an impact if you count the secondary assists. The Hawks were swinging the ball all around and it had the Bulls defense in panic mode. The combination of good ball movement and bad Bulls defense led to 31 assists on 45 makes for Atlanta.

Despite being faced with two defenders most of the time he came off a screen, Young was able to find outlets to relive the pressure. It often led to a wide open dunk or three for Atlanta, which is exactly what happened here.

Both Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis were hounding Young near half court and it looked like he had nowhere to go. Sensing his point guard was in danger, Prince rushes over to the opposite side and Young spots him. A bullet pass is fired over to Prince and the Bulls are in trouble as Portis rushes to get back to his man. Chandler Hutchison does a good job stopping on a dime and keeping Prince in front of him but with the Bulls still figuring out who is guarding who there was always going to be an open man. This time it’s DeAndre Bembry. With Portis being so high up on the court, Zach LaVine had to guard John Collins near the baseline. This caused him to leave Bembry wide open near the three-point line. LaVine sees the pass being fired over and breaks on it. He takes a massive gamble and tries to step in the way to pick it off. But he’s a second or two late and it sails right past him to Bembry. Realizing there’s a man driving free in the lane, Portis has help on the drive and it leaves Collins open on the baseline. Bembry makes the side pass over to Collins and with Lauri Markkanen over on the other block, there is nobody stopping him from slamming the ball home.

Collins also hurt the Bulls from distance, going 4 of 4 in this game.

Once again, this basket comes off the Bulls trapping Young off a PNR.

This time, Young makes a solid bounce pass to screen man, Dwayne Dedmon, as he rolls to the basket. Guarding Collins, both Hutchison and Wayne Selden are ready to rotate over on help defense to stop the drive. Hutchison is the closest to Dedmon so steps in front of him at the free throw line. This leaves Collins wide open from three-point land. Dedmon swings his head to his left and moves the ball there. Selden initially looks like he is going to contest but at the last moment he sees Dunn running over and runs back to his man instead. The problem is that Dunn was clearly a couple of steps late and Collins had all the time in the world to set up and knock down the shot.

The Bulls defense looked out of sorts all game. The first quarter was indicative enough of the trouble they had guarding the Hawks. Atlanta took advantage of Chicago’s dreadful scheme and mistakes and it resulted in a 20-point loss at home.

Got washed on the boards too

Another big reason Atlanta was able to control the game so easily was their dominance on the glass. The Hawks out rebounded the Bulls 51-37 and had a whopping 16 offensive rebounds.

It was Alex Len who feasted the most from Chicago’s inability to box out. He grabbed 7 offensive rebounds for an Atlanta team which is 5th in the league in offensive rebound percentage. The Bulls, though instructed to be ‘tough’, have actually dropped in their defensive rebounding under Boylen. In Hoiberg’s games they were at 71.9% of available defensive rebounds at 19th in the league, and now in Boylen’s time are down to 70.6% (26th in that timeframe).

The most egregious offensive rebound was earned by the game’s star, John Collins. After a Trae Young missed three, Collins somehow grabbed the ball despite the four Bulls around him. He then put it back up for the layup and it was another couple of easy points in a night full of them.