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Even old-ass Carmelo Anthony can get buckets against the out-of-sorts Bulls

swarming defense just not working

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Chicago Bulls David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls defense is still rated 14th in the league, even after giving up a 116.4 points per 100 possessions to the Blazers in another home debacle on Monday night. But as we pointed out yesterday, this has been a bit of a mirage, with the team being way too aggressive causing turnovers (and I don’t know, do fans objectively like this style?) but then allowing way too many easy shots.

Carmelo Anthony’s 10 makes, 4 from three, weren’t all ‘easy’, but did provide a flashpoint to look at this Bulls defensive scheme and personnel yet again.

There is great work by Nekias Duncan on Twitter this morning to succinctly illustrate how one-time Cash Considerations launderer Carmelo Anthony was able to turn back the clock:

Things came easy for Melo. From a schematic standpoint, Chicago was the perfect matchup for him to shake loose. Constant PnR blitzes -> backline rotations -> Melo vs. scrambling defenses. Did a lot of his work in two dribbles or less.

Duncan’s upshot:

What CHI is doing defensively is essentially malpractice in 2019. Running a system that *bleeds* corner 3s and shots at the basket is a special kind of stupid.

Another persistent problem with the Bulls defense crept up again Monday and that was allowing offensive rebounds. In the more competitive portion of the game (before Boylen put in the bench down 27 with 7:30 remaining) Portland was able to gather over 36% of their misses. Even a notorious loafer like Hassan Whiteside can be engaged and effective (13 points, 6-8 from the field, 12 boards (3 offensive) if he can just be huge.

Then to circle back, here’s another example where Carter is pulled way out on the floor.

After the game, there was open player discontent with the defensive performance.

“We’re always in rotations,” guard Zach LaVine said. “That’s our defensive scheme. I think we just got to play it. We’re the players out there. We got to do what our scheme is in practice and what we practice. We’re doing it to the best of our abilities. We just got to get it done. They were making a lot of shots. They were slipping out and getting their man in the pocket and playing two-on-one on the back side or hitting their mid-range, the pull-ups. That’s the shot we’re looking to give up. They damn sure knocked them down. It’s a catch-22 sometimes.”

LaVine is correct that last night the Blazers were unreasonably hot from mid-range, tracked them at 13/23 (56.5%) and it was nearly 26% of their attempts. But for the season, that shot they’re ‘looking to give up’ they do at the worst rates in the league.

Wendell Carter had a rough night, going from being out of position from blitzing the pick, to then being switched on guards out on an island.

He had this to say after the game:

“It gets kind of tough,” Carter said of the aggressive scheme contributing to rebounding troubles. “It’s just something I need to get used to, learn to work out of it. It’s our defensive coverage. I’m not asking anyone to change it. You just got to find a way to work it out.”