Fred Hoiberg coaching performance has left me with little faith in his abilities to make the necessary adjustments to win game 5, so I’m going to make his job easy. Here are all the changes, all laid out in nice bullet points, that need to be made come Wednesday night:
- Play Robin Lopez during crunch time. The Bulls won games 1 & 2 by completely dominating the offensive glass, and the departure of Taj Gibson leaves Robin Lopez as our only big man able to take advantage of the undersized Celtics. It’s unacceptable that Hoiberg sat Lopez for the entire 4th quarter on Sunday, even though Coach Stevens somewhat coerced Hoiberg’s hand by going extra small. But the Bulls are better off maintaining their offensive rebounding advantage, even if Lopez has to chase a capable 3pt shooter on the defensive end.
- Force Isaiah Thomas into the pick & roll. Isaiah Thomas was the worst defensive player in the NBA this season, and the Bulls need to be able to exploit that on multiple possessions. All it takes is having Jimmy or Wade screen for Isaiah Canaan, and every once in a while Isaiah Thomas will be forced to switch onto them. Anything is better that allowing Isaiah Thomas to stand in the corner guarding Canaan or Zipser.
- Don’t play Joffrey or Carter-Williams, ever. It was cute when Fred “experimented” with the rotation during the regular season, but the playoffs are no time to tinker with lineups. You need to play your best 8 players, and Joffrey Lauvergne and Michael Carter-Williams are absolutely NOT a part of that. Portis, Mirotic, Lopez and Felicio are the only necessary parts of the frontcourt rotation; it’s the mix of shooting and rebounding that the Bulls desperately need from their bigs. And if anyone can find a MCW possession that doesn’t end with a turnover or bricked jump shot off the backboard, please let me know. Give Denzel Valentine a chance, he is capable from beyond the arc, and actually plays within himself, unlike Carter-Williams.
- Give Wade minutes without Jimmy. Dwyane Wade’s impact has been fairly limited this series, which is disappointing considering that this is the only thing we paid him for. A possible solution is to give Wade a decent stretch of minutes without Jimmy Butler during the game, allowing him to lead the offense and give Jimmy a much needed rest. If he’s surrounded with shooting, Dwyane might be able to turn back the clock and create some good 3pt looks for the offense.