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Discussing how guards are used in Thibs' defense

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Post#1 Discussing how guards are used in Thibs' defe
Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:37 am by coldfish

I see a lot of random posts about guard defense in the Bulls scheme. Quite frankly, I disagree with almost all of them. I thought a tactical thread might be an interesting change of pace, even if this stuff has been discussed at length in the past.

The guards are extremely important in the Bulls defense. Let's put that out there first, but their job is relatively easy to do.

To take a step back, the fundamental philosophy of the Thibodeau defense is to overload one side of the court. When people penetrate, help comes early and walls off players before they get close to the rim so they can't even draw a foul. This is different than the Skiles defense which intentionally helped late and often fouled.

In order for this to work, you need to make sure the ball stays on one side of the court. If it swings easily from the left to the right, the other team will get an open shot easily as the Bulls will usually be out of position. You also need players to be very quick with help and to run off players with open shots.

The guards have two roles:
- Prevent opposing ball handlers from dribbling to the other side of the court. Doing this means funnelling baseline and working to contest or deny pick and rolls.
- Run out on players who are left open due to a previous help move.

These are relatively easy tasks. You aren't looking for Gary Payton like lock down one on one defense. You don't need it because you don't need to take away everything from the man you are guarding. You just have to take away his inside hand and contest a jumper.

Again, I'm not saying this isn't important. If those two things are not done, the defense is completely screwed, but the idea that each defender has to lock down his man one on one is an antiquated 90's, pre-zone rules, hand check concept.

When people are talking about, for example, Rose having to guard Wade or the downgrade from Bogans to Hamilton, its being badly overstated. Both Rose and Rip can do the two tasks I laid out above and in doing so, have got the majority of their responsibilities covered.

Sure it would be nice to have Brewer getting an extra steal or two with his long arms or something, but the impact of one or two plays a game is drastically overstated.
My rules of thumb:
1. Coaching matters.
2. Star players matter more.
3. Rookies are rarely any good at first and often not later
4. Thibodeau will play young guys and he will play bad defenders. He tries not to play people who suck.
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Post#2 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:40 am by davhern

I love when coldfish goes x's and o's on us.
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Post#3 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:52 am by BuffaloBull

Good post. I'll also add that this is one of the reasons Thibs favors size and length on the court so much, and you didn't see a lot of CJ/Rose lineups last year: going big at your position allows you to funnel better and compete better on switches / rotations. It's "How does our two matchup with their two" + "how does our 2 match up with their 3?"

I also think that it's important, in this scheme, for the guards to not be understrength relative to their position, mostly so they don't get posted on the block. It's not a huge concern, because the guard postup is mostly a lost art these days, but one of the reasons Bogans had value for us was he was so strong on the block: he would fight you for position, and once there, you would feel him the whole time you had your back turned.

Rip's obviously not as strong as Bogans, but I think he has enough length, wiry strength, and experience to be competitive. He's been through enough wars with the Pistons to understand what we're trying to do on that front.
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Post#4 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:23 am by tclg

I know one on one defense is not important but I felt that roses defense on an island was superb in contrast to other years
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Post#5 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:59 am by JackFinn

Interesting thread as usual.
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Post#6 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:06 pm by Ax2SG

Gotta love the Bulls board. This thread and the one explaining how important was Bogans in our system made my week basketball geek-wise.
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Post#7 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:19 pm by Ron Harper

I think you are dead on coldfish.

I think Rose's main job on defense is to "steer" the opposing PG. It doesn't matter which way the PG goes, Rose isn't expected to force anything.

Rather he's keeping a steady relationship between him and his man. If the ball handler goes right, fine, because like you said, the floor is cut in half.

It's not an overly aggressive approach, but rather a constant and consistent "5 guys with their eyes on the ball" approach.

Rose sometimes gets slighted for his lack of aggressiveness on defense, but he never loses containment, which is what I think Thib's is looking for.

anyway, good post.
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Post#8 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:44 pm by Shill

JackFinn wrote:Interesting thread as usual.



Our man fish was unaffected by the lockout. Already in mid-season form.


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Post#9 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 1:28 pm by transplant

Good stuff as usual, fish.

Question. How many NBA defenses don't have their guards channel the ballhandler towards the help, that is, how many put their guards on an island? From what I see, the unusual aspect of guard defense in the Thibs' system is forcing the play to the baseline rather than the middle (rule 1 of the latter being "you have to beat your man to the baseline").

Your post dealt with on-ball defense. Do you see any differences in what Thibs expects from his guards with regard to off-ball D (I can't say I do, but that's why I'm not you)? I thought Bogans' off-ball defense was excellent in terms of making it difficult for his man to get to where he wanted to get on time and he was about as physical as you could get away with without fouling. IMO, off-ball defensive contributions are often overlooked.
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Post#10 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:21 pm by coldfish

transplant wrote:Good stuff as usual, fish.

Question. How many NBA defenses don't have their guards channel the ballhandler towards the help, that is, how many put their guards on an island? From what I see, the unusual aspect of guard defense in the Thibs' system is forcing the play to the baseline rather than the middle (rule 1 of the latter being "you have to beat your man to the baseline").

Your post dealt with on-ball defense. Do you see any differences in what Thibs expects from his guards with regard to off-ball D (I can't say I do, but that's why I'm not you)? I thought Bogans' off-ball defense was excellent in terms of making it difficult for his man to get to where he wanted to get on time and he was about as physical as you could get away with without fouling. IMO, off-ball defensive contributions are often overlooked.


1. I know a lot of teams either don't direct flow or direct towards the center. For example, several of the utah players noted that the Thibs defense was a big departure from how Sloan did things because their goal on defense was always to crowd the center and push people into that whereas on Chicago, if you let your man get to the center, Thibs will chew your ass.

I know many of the offensive minded coaches just tell their defenders to stay in front of their man regardless and do little helping. Ironically, this requires the most defensive ability and these teams (ie NY) usually don't go for people with defensive ability.

2. Off ball can be dividend into two sections. Help and what you referred to. Guards rotating onto open men is one of the things I have noted and Thibs demands a lot of this. Does anyone remember Thibs bitching out Korver for late rotations?

I honestly can't speak to off ball man direction (ie. hand fighting to keep your man out of position). I know its done, but I haven't read it or studied it enough to offer anything other than a wild ass guess.
My rules of thumb:
1. Coaching matters.
2. Star players matter more.
3. Rookies are rarely any good at first and often not later
4. Thibodeau will play young guys and he will play bad defenders. He tries not to play people who suck.
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Post#11 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:29 pm by kyrv

Just a few weeks ago we were still talking lockout. :lol:

I have a question:

The guards have two roles:
- Prevent opposing ball handlers from dribbling to the other side of the court. Doing this means funnelling baseline and working to contest or deny pick and rolls.


What do you mean by baseline here? Baseline is the out of bounds that extends on the far end of either court right? You've mentioned several times about the funneling and to be honest I'm not clear exactly where this funneling is to go.

-----------------------------------

Side rant question, why do so many defenders in the NBA play people straight up that go 80% or more to one side?
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Post#12 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:38 pm by suckfish

What do you mean by baseline here? Baseline is the out of bounds that extends on the far end of either court right? You've mentioned several times about the funneling and to be honest I'm not clear exactly where this funneling is to go.


Baseline/sideline.

I think forcing basline/sideline is most common, while forcing middle is easier to teach and is usually seen coached by less defensive minded coaches. There are more rotations to get right when forcing a player baseline/sideline therefore it needs to be drilled longer.

If you get it wrong or out of sync, forcing basline/sideline will open you right up allowing layups. It may be why we saw those occasional dreadful defensive efforts from the Bulls on certain nights. They were just out of sync.

Forcing middle is simpler to rotate on IMO, but encouraging an offensive player to go middle is never a good idea to me.
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Post#13 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:39 pm by larcat

BuffaloBull wrote: It's "How does our two matchup with their two" + "how does our 2 match up with their 3?"


This concept is something I have been thinking about lots over the last year.

It is what makes players like Deng and Brewer so interesting, and what made Pippen and Rodman so unique.

If a player has adequate offense, and can successfully guard one position up and down at an adequate or excellent level, it means your team defense is a whole different animal.

Rodman and Pippen especially had this ability in spades.
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bulls dont just play good
alot of it is they make you play bad!
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Post#14 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:41 pm by coldfish

kyrv wrote:Just a few weeks ago we were still talking lockout. :lol:

I have a question:

The guards have two roles:
- Prevent opposing ball handlers from dribbling to the other side of the court. Doing this means funnelling baseline and working to contest or deny pick and rolls.


What do you mean by baseline here? Baseline is the out of bounds that extends on the far end of either court right? You've mentioned several times about the funneling and to be honest I'm not clear exactly where this funneling is to go.


Well, baseline might be kind of a misnomer. A better way of looking at it is that the defender is placing himself between the man with the ball and the center of the court, not in between the man with the ball and the basket.

That leaves the offensive player in a position where if he wants to go at the hoop, he has to go towards the baseline first, which is why I call it funnel baseline.

The defenders don't want to give the offensive player a free run at the baseline though. Defenders need to impede progress a little and how to do this properly is to move your feet and stay on the guy's inside shoulder as he drives. That way, when the help arrives the offensive player ends up with a defender on his inside shoulder, a help defender in his face and the baseline on his outside shoulder.

Getting back specific to guard on ball defense, I could simplify this and just say that the guard's responsibility is to stay on the inside shoulder of the guy with the ball at all times. As I said in the OP, its very important, but not incredibly hard to do.

-----------------------------------

Side rant question, why do so many defenders in the NBA play people straight up that go 80% or more to one side?


Shockingly bad scouting.
My rules of thumb:
1. Coaching matters.
2. Star players matter more.
3. Rookies are rarely any good at first and often not later
4. Thibodeau will play young guys and he will play bad defenders. He tries not to play people who suck.
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Post#15 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:47 pm by DanTown8587

coldfish wrote:2. Does anyone remember Thibs bitching out Korver for late rotations?

Not so much late but wrong rotation

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Post#16 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:51 pm by kyrv

suckfish wrote:
What do you mean by baseline here? Baseline is the out of bounds that extends on the far end of either court right? You've mentioned several times about the funneling and to be honest I'm not clear exactly where this funneling is to go.


Baseline/sideline.

I think forcing basline/sideline is most common, while forcing middle is easier to teach and is usually seen coached by less defensive minded coaches. There are more rotations to get right when forcing a player baseline/sideline therefore it needs to be drilled longer.

If you get it wrong or out of sync, forcing basline/sideline will open you right up allowing layups. It may be why we saw those occasional dreadful defensive efforts from the Bulls on certain nights. They were just out of sync.

Forcing middle is simpler to rotate on IMO, but encouraging an offensive player to go middle is never a good idea to me.


Thanks, so if we were to draw a waypoint, they would be the two corners, more or less?

The middle is kind of interesting, you can beat a zone by attacking the middle, I guess it's a matter of who is doing it better, the offense or defense. I agree inviting guys to the middle, yes you can converge, but...then you are converged. I guess either way works if it is done properly.

From way back early (Jurassic period) keeping people out of the lane was a goal but again basketball has evolved, that's back when the Earth was young and you could dream and be anything.
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Post#17 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:53 pm by BuffaloBull

Re: the Utah defense, I remember reading recently that most defenses now do channel guys to the baseline, and that Sloan's system (channelling to the middle) was only being used by one or two teams last year. Utah's switching it up this year, but it helps explain why some of the Utah guys (esp. Booz and Korver) had some trouble with the rotations to start the year.

Utah is switching now, to a system more like ours.

What makes Thib's defense special, more than anything else, is Thibs. The scheme isn't that much different than what most of the league wants to run, he just runs it with an attention to detail that is beyond what other coaches achieve. It's like Battier in the coaching booth: he studies scorers really hard, and then implements wrinkles in his base D to take specific things away.
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Post#18 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:55 pm by kyrv

coldfish wrote:
kyrv wrote:Just a few weeks ago we were still talking lockout. :lol:

I have a question:

The guards have two roles:
- Prevent opposing ball handlers from dribbling to the other side of the court. Doing this means funnelling baseline and working to contest or deny pick and rolls.


What do you mean by baseline here? Baseline is the out of bounds that extends on the far end of either court right? You've mentioned several times about the funneling and to be honest I'm not clear exactly where this funneling is to go.


Well, baseline might be kind of a misnomer. A better way of looking at it is that the defender is placing himself between the man with the ball and the center of the court, not in between the man with the ball and the basket.

That leaves the offensive player in a position where if he wants to go at the hoop, he has to go towards the baseline first, which is why I call it funnel baseline.

The defenders don't want to give the offensive player a free run at the baseline though. Defenders need to impede progress a little and how to do this properly is to move your feet and stay on the guy's inside shoulder as he drives. That way, when the help arrives the offensive player ends up with a defender on his inside shoulder, a help defender in his face and the baseline on his outside shoulder.

Getting back specific to guard on ball defense, I could simplify this and just say that the guard's responsibility is to stay on the inside shoulder of the guy with the ball at all times. As I said in the OP, its very important, but not incredibly hard to do.

-----------------------------------

Side rant question, why do so many defenders in the NBA play people straight up that go 80% or more to one side?


Shockingly bad scouting.


Gracias! This jives with what suckfish said right? My coffee hasn't kicked in so sorry if I'm being stupid here. As I asked suckfish, if you were to draw a waypoint, you'd kind of want them to head to the corner, as opposed to the lane(middle of court) or hoop. Well I guess the corner is a bit far out, but I'm pretty sure I'm getting that.

Last year I thought they were funneling middle (or supposed to) and they didn't seem to be doing that so I was of course confused (more so than usual).

On the driving side, that's kind of odd, when I played someone I didn't know, you would favor their dribbling hand until they showed they could dribble with most hands. Of course, we were scrubs, yet shockingly most NBA players heavily favor their dribbling hand.
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Post#19 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:11 pm by transplant

Sorry, but but reading through this thread, I feel the need to throw up a "straw man."

What is expected defensively from Thibs' guards on defense is not much different from most NBA teams since most NBA teams expect their guards to funnel either toward the middle (Utah model) or the baseline (Thibs model), that is, most NBA defenses want their defenders to "funnel" their on-ball opponent. All NBA defenses expect their guards to challenge outside shots.

Right, wrong or more complicated than I'm making it?
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Post#20 Re: Discussing how guards are used in Thibs'
Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:14 pm by jumpmanjay

kyrv wrote:Last year I thought they were funneling middle (or supposed to) and they didn't seem to be doing that so I was of course confused (more so than usual).


no, definitely funnel baseline. thats the fundamental base of thibs whole defensive scheme.
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