Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bulls v. Mavericks Recap

Last Saturday, March 6th, one-third of the JPO team walked into the hall of haram, the jardin of Jordan, that bastion of bollocks, Chicago’s United Center. I've made no secret that since my childhood, I've been no fan of the Bulls. Yet for non-basketball-fanhood reasons I find myself living in Chicago now, so there is but one place to go to witness NBA action. For the third time this season, I steeled myself to the odium that permeates Bulls games for me, and settled down to watch Vinny Del Negro’s bunch scrap out 48 hard minutes.

On this night Chicago drew Dallas, which has improved its roster and said roster’s “swag” quite a bit since trading for Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler, and Deshawn Stevenson in February. Despite the talent gap, Chicago hung tight with the Mavericks, eventually losing by six points. Through video illustration (thank you Mom and Dad for that new camera!) I want to highlight three areas in the development of both teams: (i) Derrick Rose's improving jump shot, (ii) the Mavericks' hustling propensity, and (iii) unbelievably pretty assist-making by Rodrigue Beaubois. I took several more videos than what are shown here, but these shall be enough for one blog post.


Rose has been knocked throughout his first two pro seasons for his lack of long-range shooting ability. Unlike other leading point guards, he rarely attempts 3-pointers. Yet, as this recent ESPN article notes, Rose has recently been ardently practicing his long ball and has tried out his hand at 3s more and more in real games.

In each of the next two videos, Dallas's Jason Kidd clearly fails to respect Rose's shooting ability, apparently having studied Rose's season averages. However, averages can belie recent trends, and Rose's recent trend is Just Swish, Baby:

Here, three Dallas defenders including Barea, Najera, and Nowitzki all elect not to challenge Rose's shot, and he makes them pay:


Rick Carlisle's teams (the Pistons of 2001-2003 and then the Pacers of 2003-2007) have been known for disciplined play. How did Indiana make the playoffs in 2004-05 after losing hundreds of man-games to injuries and suspensions? Carlisle just knows how to scrap and win. Clearly, he has imparted that knack to his current Mavs team; by contrast, young Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro is still figuring that part out.

Here, Dirk Nowitzki scores, and then Caron Butler and Shawn Marion pick the pocket of Derrick Rose as the latter attempts to bring the ball up the court:

And watch here as Caron Butler sneaks in to steal an offensive rebound and sink an easy layup, robbing the Bulls of what should have been a fast break in the other direction:


Rodrigue Beaubois, a slight rookie from Guadeloupe via the French LNB pro league, has impressed a great deal in his limited court time this season. On this night in Chi-town, Roddy B tallied 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists, spelling the injured Jason Terry. The Mavs are stuffed with talent and, with J.J. Barea and Terry on the roster, there may not be much room for another 72-inch guard. However, look at this guy's ability to dish the ball.

Here, he makes a Magic-like near-no-look pass to Dirk Nowitzki, who swishes a shot from the top of the key.

Here, he again whips a pass to Dirk, who drives and draws a shooting foul.

Here, Beaubois throws it to Eduardo Najera, who uncharacteristically sinks a 3-ball.

Being so lithe and lean, Beaubois may have some problems defending guards with any heft, however. Here, Derrick Rose (continuing our theme from above) easily outmuscles Beaubois and drains a baseline jumper:

Of course, Beaubois is not the only great passer on Dallas. Here, Jason Kidd threads the figurative needle, delivering an entry pass to Shawn Marion in prime scoring position.

Finally, in this video, two sweet passes by Barea and Najera lead to an easy basket by Caron Butler.


Both teams are on the way up, but stand now at different levels. The Mavericks hope they can seriously push Denver or Los Angeles in the playoffs for the Western crown. Chicago is having yet another mediocre season (they've won only one playoff series in the last 11 seasons before this one, as I detailed in this post last month) and they are currently 9th in the Eastern Conference, probably lottery-bound once again. Yet with promising young players Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and Taj Gibson, they may have the basis of a good team, especially if they can add a top free agent this summer. The Bulls would do well to learn from the Mavericks' pretty play-making and hustling fire. The Mavs — well, frankly, they don't have much to learn from the young Bulls.

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