The Chicago Bulls have had the biggest turnaround in the NBA from last year. They were a border line playoff team in an Eastern Conference that had no depth, but they are now the best team in the NBA. So far, the Bulls are up 3-0 in the first round of the playoffs. This is all thanks to the Celtics-style half-court defense brought in by a former Celtics assistant coach.
Erik Spoelstra, Greg Popovich, and Lionel Hollins deserve recognition for also doing a great job; first-year Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau’s work this season has been unmatched. The defense he brought in was modified, and Thibodeau was able to shut down top offensive teams like the Miami Heat. He frustrated LeBron James and Dwayne Wade when the Heat faced the Bulls.
Thanks to Derrick Rose, the Bulls were a decent team offensively. However, it was Thibodeau’s plan that made Chicago the most efficient team defensively. The Bulls’ defensive efficiency was 97.4, ahead of Boston’s 97.8 mark. Their defense helped them become the second most efficient team in the league, .5 under the Heat. They were more efficient by 1.5 than the next three teams: the Lakers, Magic, and Spurs.
The Bulls were the best in the league with a 46.27 effective field goal percentage allowed, and that’s all thanks to Thibodeau’s scheme and his rigorous work with his players during practice. Rebounding is a big part of good defending, and the Bulls were the best rebounding team in the league. The Bulls were exceptional at defending the short range jumper and were easily the best in the league at covering 3’s and long 2’s. That’s what you call perimeter defense.
Tom Thibodeau’s defense starts with interior defense, but it’s strength is perimeter defense. Simply put: they do not get shot on. Still not sold? The Bulls have the highest defensive ratio in the league- over Boston and Miami- and it shows how well a team defends shots by dividing the other team’s expected shooting percentage which is based on the league average. For example, the league average for 3’s could be about 30 percent- hypothetically speaking. So, you crunch all the expected numbers for every spot on the court, and you create expected shooting percentage. You then divide by shooting percentage to show how well a team really is defending.
Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer, Omer Asik, and Carlos Boozer are all solid defenders *insert high level for Brewer and Noah*. They execute well defensively on the court, but the Bulls would never be this great defensively without Thibodeau. The Bulls are a close-knit team now with Thibodeau, and everybody is a brother. They always have fun on and off the court, and this is how basketball teams should be. It’s also another reason for me picking Tom Thibodeau as my 2010-2011 NBA Coach of the Year.