You can start tracking the Bulls 2nd half collapse to the Spurs on Wednesday night mid-way through the 3rd quarter when the bench came in. As we know, the younger and worse players were finally moved to the bench a couple games ago. It was exacerbated further in the final minute of the 3rd when Billy Donovan deployed three ‘point guards’ in starter Tomas Satoransky (more of a ball-mover than distributor), backup Coby White (a ball-loser), and cheerleader Ryan Arcidiacono (why?) all at the same time.
This is a very coach-y move (I’d call it ‘Skiles-ian’ but a lot of teams do it) to get more ballhandling and spacing to protect a lead. But the problem with the current Bulls version of this is that all these guards are not good enough to produce such benefits. They don’t put pressure on the defense through penetration or scare them into spacing out with their shooting. In fact, it gave the Spurs an opening to more overtly pressure their defense because the Bulls actually have zero point guards on the roster.
Let’s grimace through these offensive (in more ways than one folks) plays, starting with the final Bulls possession of the third.
For the above, unfortunately I can’t get the first ten seconds of the shot clock but it winds up with a no-hope Coby White drive to a spotted-up Arch in the corner. Arch fails to pull the trigger but the Spurs have no qualms helping off him, or everyone to pressure the ball. A Coby White catch-and-shoot corner three is a pretty good outcome, but it’s a bit rushed due to this pressure and missed.
(Wendell Carter got the board and had no guard help, so he tried to back Jakob Poetl down and missed a fadeaway in the paint)
Starting the 4th, the three guards can’t do anything so it’s up to Otto Porter to try and do something. He can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit because the man don’t eat salad:
Next is a good example of the Bulls starting PG battle. Sato can’t do anything, and then Coby at least tries...but fails.
The next possession sees what could be called a Coby White turnover but it did hit the backboard so technically it’s a field goal attempt:
The next play isn’t as egregiously bad as the last two, but does highlight the roster’s limitations. The Bulls beat the press and get a wide-open Arch corner three attempt. But he misses badly, validating why the Spurs left him wide open:
Mercifully, after this Arcidiacono is subbed out (I read that Kendall Gill was lamenting Garrett Temple’s unavailability in a game where the Spurs were missing DeMar DeRozan, but it was kind of a big deal in this context) for Patrick Williams.
Williams isn’t a guard, obviously, and he’s at fault for the bad turnover below. But notice he’s given a hot potato with seconds left on the shot clock because Satoransky can’t create a better opportunity.
I didn’t analyze the defensive possessions here but you figure going small like this means you are going to sacrifice that end a bit to at least have comfortable offense. But it was the opposite, as this awful offensive display took the score from an 80-66 Bulls lead to 80-77 margin.
Zach LaVine was subbed in and they had the same problems, after all it was him and Thad Young who actually led the team in turnovers. But it showed how they need to handle the ball more than usual because the Bulls went into this season without any point guards.