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Sixers Need To Be The Aggressors

The Bulls stifling defense coupled with the Sixers woeful shooting has resulted in some of the worst scoring production we've seen all year over the past three games. Welcome to the playoffs. In a series like this, scoring efficiently is mostly a pipe dream. Just scoring is the priority, scratching and clawing just enough to support the dominant defense you're playing on the other end of the floor. Forget fixing the offense or flat out beating the defense, you have to find ways to simply tilt the odds in your favor.

The first, and most obvious, way to tilt the odds is to get out in transition. Playing two-on-one or three-on-two is the best way to get easy points, but pure transition opportunities are hard to come by in the playoffs. Fast break points are largely out of the Sixers control, beyond forcing turnovers with stout defense, which they've done. There is something else they can do, however. They can take advantage of their main strength, having multiple ballhandlers on the floor at all times. Here's what I want to see. On every defensive rebound, or make, instead of walking the ball up the floor, instead pass it ahead. If Turner gets the board, instead of dribbling it up, have Jrue or Iguodala come get the ball at about half court and then push it into the front court. If Iguodala gets the board, have Jrue or Turner set up for the outlet at midcourt. Get the pass, and push it up from there.

Don't do this just for stretches, do it the entire game. Even if you don't have the numbers immediately, you're going to make Chicago scramble. They might back on defense, but wind up with Watson on Turner, unable to get back to his preferred man. Force the Chicago bigs to sprint back on defense every time down the floor. Sap their legs early so they simply cannot do it late in the game. Even if you push the ball up, realize nothing is there and then get into your set, worst case scenario you've got more time left on the clock to work your offense to create a look. You've got Chicago back on their heels on the defensive end, you're making them work harder just to get their defense set, then making them play defense in the half court for a longer period of time.

This sounds simple, but really it's not something most teams can do. The Bulls, for example, don't have enough ballhandlers to do it. They need to get the ball to their PG most of the time and let him dribble it up and initiate. The Sixers pretty much always have three guys on the floor who are capable of handling the ball and setting teammates up. Take advantage of that. One ancillary bonus might be getting Thad involved in late transition. I can' t recall a single time in this series where Thad was a blur, outrunning everyone down the floor for an easy layup, this type of pace might get him going. Might get him some touches somewhere other than 18 feet from the hoop facing up against Taj Gibson.

We're at game six. Major adjustments aren't going to happen, but this small shift is something they can absolutely execute on. If you look back over the first five games, they've done it in spurts. Now it's time for them to match their defensive intensity on the offensive end and take the fight to the Bulls for 48 minutes. Don't let them settle into their punishing half-court defense. Don't walk the ball up and let them get set. Wear their hobbled front court down until they don't have the legs left to clog the lane, and when you get stuck in the half court, keep going to the hoop until the refs are forced to blow the whistle, or the defense collapses to the point that they're leaving guys wide open for jumpers.

The tip is at 7pm. Game thread will land at five. Finish this in Philly.
by Brian on May 10 2012
Tags: Basketball | Chicago Bulls | Game 6 | Playoffs | Sixers |