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What Should The Bulls Do If DeMar DeRozan Is Locked Down Again?

Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and Coby White provide alternative options to help break down the Bucks defense.

DeMar DeRozan Chicago Bulls Offense
Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that Chicago Bulls’ star DeMar DeRozan has faced some tough defense as of late. Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday has been one of the best defenders against DeRozan all season. DeRozan has shot just 39% across five games in which Holiday has guarded him.

But this isn’t solely a product of Holiday being one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. DeRozan and Holiday grew up together. They were opponents in AAU, high school, and college.

“Some people are just gifted with the ability to have awareness, quickness, a feel, anticipation. All those things he shows now, he’s always had that” DeRozan said of Holiday.

Needless to say, DeRozan will have his work cut out for him as the Bulls vs. Bucks playoff series continues. He likely won’t be able to contribute at the level he was able to reach against other opponents. With that in mind, here is what the Bulls can do in an attempt to break through Milwaukee’s defense.

Pick-and-Roll With Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic

The Chicago Bulls need to look into something they did earlier in the year when DeMar DeRozan was sidelined — the pick-and-roll setup featuring Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic.

LaVine is one of the best slashers in the league. He also has a mid-range game that can keep defenders honest. At the same time, Vucevic has underperformed as of late. While Vucevic scored 24 points in Game 1, he was 9-27 from the floor. More importantly, his shooting from behind the arc was abysmal at a 2-10 clip. Vucevic needs to work the paint to increase his scoring efficiency.

Utilizing the pick-and-roll will also challenge Milwaukee to stay out of foul trouble. In Game 1, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo racked up five fouls by the middle of the fourth quarter. With him off the floor for long periods of time, the Bulls were able to go on a run to tie the game.

But the Bulls still lacked off-ball movement. A LaVine/Vucevic pick-and-roll will open up pockets on the floor for Chicago shooters to shift to. Between a pass out to those players and the scoring options a LaVine/Vucevic pick-and-roll will provide, Milwaukee’s defense will have much more on their plate. At a minimum, this approach should increase the Bulls shooting percentage from their bleak 32% clip in Game 1.

Pick-and-Pop With Coby White

Coby White was one of the Chicago Bulls players that received significant flack at the end of the season. At the time, the heat was warranted due to his poor shooting performances.

But in Game 1, the Bulls saw a different Coby White on the floor. He was one of the bright spots in Chicago’s 93-86 loss. White shot 5-10 from the field, totaling 12 points. He was second on the Bulls in +/- at a +4. He looked confident, like he belonged on the playoff stage. That may be due to his college days at North Carolina, where several big games approached an NBA playoff atmosphere in terms of intensity.

With the Bulls starting guards playing well over 30 minutes each and DeMar DeRozan playing 43 minutes, White has an opportunity to see the floor more. He only logged 23 minutes in Game 1. If Coby can generate some mismatches in a pick-and-pop situation, he could see some very clean looks from three.

When White is shooting about 45% from the floor, the Bulls have been tough to beat. Converting on pick-and pop chances would draw more Bucks defenders his way and open up opportunities for LaVine and DeRozan.

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