Bulls Hurt Heat On Pick-And-Roll


The Miami Heat lost to the Chicago Bulls last night, ending Miami’s winning streak at 27 games.  The Bulls had success against the Heat on the pick-and-roll, and the two fourth quarter three pointers by Luol Deng that helped the Bulls pull away from the Heat in the final quarter came on pick-and-roll action.  It was not the Bulls’ pick-and-roll directly that hurt the Heat on these two plays (neither the screener or the ball handler scored), but how Miami defended the pick-and-roll that gave Deng his open looks.

I dissect the first pick-and-roll here (I might dissect the second pick-and-roll later).

On the first three pointer, we have a “screening the screener” action where Jimmy Butler sets a screen on Carlos Boozer’s defender (Shane Battier) and then Boozer sets a screen on Kirk Hinrich’s defender (LeBron James).

Boozer sets his screen; meanwhile, Battier is still tied up with Jimmy Butler and trying to get back on his man, Boozer.  Ray Allen doesn’t really know what he is doing — or at least it looks like that.  There is no real reason for Ray Allen to sag so deeply away from Butler and Boozer.  Even if Allen is waiting for Battier to get back to Boozer, Allen should be closer to Butler and Boozer so that he can better anticipate Battier getting back on Boozer and he can re-engage Butler faster defensively.

Boozer has kind’ve “slipped” his screen after seeing that there was nobody on him.  You can see what the terrible positioning by Ray Allen has done: he is basically guarding nobody as he is too far away from Boozer and Butler.

Ray Allen and Shane Battier are both stuck in a defensive “no-man’s” land, where neither of them are guarding anybody.  Now that Battier has disengaged from Butler (and has started moving back to guard Butler), Allen should get back on Butler as quickly as possible — however, Allen hasn’t even started moving in Butler’s direction.  The fact that Allen has not switched back to Butler means that Dwayne Wade (who was on Luol Deng) has had to sag off Deng in order to help against Butler.  The effect is that Wade is currently on the Bulls’ logo and his man, Deng, is at the three point line (a good ten feet away).  Notice that there are three Heat players essentially in the paint, and only one Bulls player in the paint.  On the flip side, there are four Bulls players on the perimeter (foul line-extended) and only two Heat defenders that are actually guarding the perimeter.

The distance between Wade and Deng is so large that Deng has pretty much started to jump on his shot before Wade has even got a hand extended.  The end product is basically an uncontested jump shot, and a five point lead at a critical point in the game.