Chicago–So let’s say J.J. doesn’t shoot 10 of 13 from beyond 15 feet again, Jamal doesn’t shoot 3 for 3 at the rim and 4 for 4 from the line and Teague can’t stick the floater.
Then what for Atlanta’s offense? Maybe they should try to run more of what probably was their most underutilized play in the regular season and still is during the playoffs: Al on pick-and-rolls.
According to Synergy Sports Technology, Al had 226 of those plays during the regular season (2.94 per game) and scored 1.1 points per possession (eighth-best in the league). In the postseason he’s been involved in 21 screen-rolls (3 per game) and scored 1.14 points per possession.
On those 21 plays, Al made 12 of 20 shots and had one turnover. Seven of the screen-roll passes came from Hinrich, seven from Jamal, and two each from Teague, J.J. and Josh. He went to the basket six times and popped out for jump shots for the other 14, with six makes (one of the misses was the rushed 3-pointer in Game 2 at Orlando).
So Al is shooting 6 of 14 on pick-and-pops in the playoffs. But he’s shooting only 39 percent overall (16 for 41) on attempts from 16 to 23 feet after shooting 53 percent from that distance during the season. That was the best mark in the league among guys who had at least 70 attempts.
Looking at the video of the postseason screen-roll plays with Al, he’s not getting the same time and space to shoot as he did during the regular season. Three times he’s responded to hard challenges by faking the J and driving.
“I think it’s really different because teams really tune in on coverages and make an effort to challenge and contest, like we are doing to them,” Al said. “I think the shot is still there. I just think different areas of our offense are still working so we are sticking with that. Joe is scoring the ball; Jamal is doing his thing. I don’t think its called for me to run high pick-and-roll.”
Maybe not yet, but it’s a strong option if what worked in Game 1 isn’t working tonight. Smoove in the post works, too, but it’s tough to count on that after he took five shots from beyond 15 in Game 1 and missed them all.
Al’s defense and rebounding were key to Game 1 and it figures to be the same in Game 2. The Hawks might also need his scoring.
“I got in foul trouble and was kind of taken out [of Game 1],” Al said. “At this point of the year I am doing whatever it takes for my team. I didn’t have to worry about scoring much last game. Tonight I just have to stay ready.”
- Same starters tonight as for Game 1. Same inactives: Rolle and Etan.
- L.D. on the expectation that D-Rose will get to the line more: “[Game 1] was officiated very fairly. I thought there were some times we should have got to the line but we didn’t. It was both ways. That is a big point for us to try to keep them off the line as much as we can. We have to anticipate that he is going to get to the free-throw line and we have got to play through it irregardless of what the situation is.”
- Jeff Fogle at Hoopdata.com notes that maybe it’s not such a good assumption that D-Rose will get more free throws since he really hasn’t done it since hurting his ankle.
- L.D. on the goal vs. D-Rose: “Making sure we don’t give him the seams, the gaps to dribble penetrate. We try to make a conscious effort to take that away. You can’t stop him but overall if we can be consistent at that it gives us a chance.”
- L.D. on Rose in Game 1: “He probably didn’t have the game he’s accustomed to but I would like to credit the way we defended him with that.”
- L.D. on if he thinks guys are content with winning one in Chicago: “I would not allow that to happen. I thought that was the case against Orlando. We did not come out with a sense of urgency for Game 2. We had a lot of slippage. I take full responsibility for that. Here we have another opportunity staring us right in the eye. It’s up to me to get my team ready. Its’ up to me to make sure we come out with a whole different focus. We are going to see their best shot. It’s important that whatever happens, we are able to weather it and move on.”
- Al on what he expects from the Bulls tonight: “All-out effort. They are here at home, in front of their fans. I thought that came out hard in Game 1 but I am sure they will be all-out tonight.”
- L.D.: “That team will come out and play hard and play with energy and effort. We have to match that. We have to be smart. We cannot lose our composure under any circumstance. We have to play through any situation and stick with what our gameplan is. That’s a very talented Chicago ballclub, It’s no fluke that they won 62 games. So to come out here and not expect them to give us our best effort is totally ridiculous.”
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune’s says the Bulls are trying to “master the learning curve of being the favorites.”
- J.J. on Atlanta’s balance causing problems for Chicago’s D: “We got a few guys who can really put up big numbers. We do tend to keep a team off balance. I am sure they will come up with different schemes and tactics to slow us down. We have just got to stay poised and we will be all right.”
- Josh on the knee: “It feels all right. Each and every day it gets better, it gets a little stronger. I have just got to stay on top of it. What’s helping me out is I am not thinking about it. I am just playing basketball. It’s something I just have to worry about after the season.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat