Last week, Pippen Ain’t Easy’s very own Caleb Nordgren very admirably broke down Tom Thibodeau and the Chicago Bulls most popular play involving single-double action, known as the “floppy” set. While this play, used back to back in yesterday’s loss to Indiana, didn’t have an outcome as exciting as Jimmy Butler’s alley-oop it may be almost as useful.
A minor variation of Chicago’s high pick-and-pop’s involving Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer proved to be very effective. Here’s my first breakdown ever (so try to go easy on me!):
First off, Taj Gibson sets a down-screen to get Luol Deng the basketball. Pretty standard stuff.
Immediately following this, Marquis Teague uses the body of Carlos Boozer as a pseudo-screen to create a little bit of separation between himself and George Hill as he cuts through the paint. Roy Hibbert intuitively creeps down a little bit as a result, so when Boozer sets an on-ball screen for Luol Deng the Pacers aren’t a position to hedge or trap the ball like they would late in the game.
While Rip Hamilton isn’t generally a by-stander in the majority of Tom Thibodeau’s sets like he is here, he still plays a very important role. Lance Stephenson won’t come out to help on Deng’s penetration since Hamilton has a bit of a reputation as a guy you don’t want to leave unattended.
Anyway, right as Boozer pops up to above the free throw line, Gibson makes a move to the basket, forcing David West to commit to him to prevent an easy dunk. In an alternative situation with Nate Robinson or Kirk Hinrich in the game, George Hill would have to follow his check all the way to the three-point line allowing the Bulls a split-second opportunity to get Taj Gibson a lob. But the Pacers played the percentages and prevented that from happening.
With Paul George trailing, Hibbert is forced to guard Deng. In an ideal defensive scheme, George would anticipate and try to intercept the proceeding pass to Boozer. However, he doesn’t read the play in time and Carlos Boozer drains an open shot in his sweet-spot.
David West came out and did his best to contest the shot, allowing Chicago good rebounding position in case of a rare free throw line miss from Boozer. You’ll notice that the above picture is a little distorted compared to the rest. Fans have Boozer’s ridiculously high-arcing shot to thank for that. Here’s the play in its entirety:
Less than a minute later, the Bulls ran this exact same play again, but this time Luol Deng took the onus upon himself to score. Here’s what happened:
The play starts off the same way. Gibson sets a screen for Deng, Teague cuts through the paint and Boozer sets a screen and pops above the free throw line. However, this time David West commits to Carlos Boozer instead of Taj Gibson, giving that duty to the much smaller George Hill.
With Paul George trailing once again, the only man Luol Deng had to beat to the rim was a flat-footed Roy Hibbert. Once again, if the Bulls had Robinson or Captain Kirk in the game instead of the rookie, it would have forced George Hill to choose between allowing Taj Gibson any rebounding position he wants around the rim and a wide-open three for a high-percentage shooter. Moreover, it would have given Luol Deng a plethora of time (in NBA seconds) to find Gibson for an easy lob.
In both situations, this proved to be a masterful set incorporated by Tom Thibodeau giving the Chicago Bulls a plethora of options to score. Fans can only imagine how effective Thibs’ play calls will be when executed properly in the presence of a healthy Derrick Rose.