76ers look to Plan B, backboard
The focus will be on the Bulls' sub for Derrick Rose and rebounding.
CHICAGO - The 76ers spent almost the entire first hour of Monday's practice session watching video in a back room of the United Center in preparation for Game 2 of the opening round best-of-seven playoff series in which they trail the Chicago Bulls, one game to none.
The video sessions were lengthy before the series started, but most of the plans that were made from those gatherings had to be scratched when Bulls point guard Derrick Rose snapped his ACL in the final moments of Chicago's 103-91 win in Game 1.
Now it's back to the drawing board for the Sixers.
Fortunately for the team, recordings without Rose weren't hard to find since he missed 27 games this season due to various injuries. For 25 of those games, C.J. Watson stepped into the starting point-guard role in Rose's absence and did quite well, winning 17 of the 25 games he started and averaging 11.3 points and 4.6 assists.
Still, changes certainly have to be made, and it appears the biggest one will be to the Sixers' starting lineup. While coach Doug Collins refused to answer when questioned who was going to start Game 2 on Tuesday, Jrue Holiday may have inadvertently revealed the secret. When asked about guarding Watson, Holiday talked about what the plan would be. He was then asked if Watson would be his assignment. He said: "No, that's Evan [Turner]. I'm on Rip [Hamilton]."
Turner almost certainly will be starting instead of Jodie Meeks, who struggled mightily in Game 1 and was pulled by Collins midway through the first quarter. He didn't see the court again until late in the fourth quarter.
I need to "come out defending and try and push the tempo and keep the defense on their heels and attack and try to distribute the ball and make shots," Turner said. "Just have an all-around impact and play the game the right way and help."
And though Collins insists the focus still has to be on keeping the Bulls off the backboard, adapting to a different Chicago style with Watson at the point is another concern.
"With Rose they average 24 assists a game," said Collins. "Without him it's under 18. So they're a little bit different team, obviously, where he's playmaking and getting shots. I think they're going to go to more postups with Luol [Deng] and [Carlos] Boozer. The key is still going to be rebounding.
"[Watson] is not going to be that explosive guy that's putting so much pressure on you every time with the ball. He's a good pick-and-roll player. He shoots 38 percent from three, [John] Lucas shoots 38 percent from three without Rose. Those two guys combined without Derrick Rose average about 22.5 points a game. They shoot the ball. Lucas gives them an element of speed off that bench. They'll play [Ronnie] Brewer more to give them another big wing. But I keep going back and back and back that it's going to be about rebounding."
Collins was asked if the Sixers' mind-set has changed now that Rose is gone for the series. After a long, icy stare to the questioner, Collins asked, "You're kidding, right? You're kidding, right? Are we favored to win this series now?"
Obviously they are not. The Bulls still possess enough depth to finish off the Sixers, even without perhaps the top point guard in the game, and Watson filling in. When the teams met in Chicago in March, when Rose was out with a groin injury, Watson had a team-high 20 points to lead the Bulls to an 89-80 win.
"We have to play him a little different from Derrick but not too much different because he's a scorer, too," Holiday said.
The Bulls' big men may be even more active now to make up for the loss of Rose. If that's the case, it really won't matter who is playing point guard.
Sixshots. Lavoy Allen, who started at center in the first game, said his sprained right thumb is fine. "I did it going for a loose ball towards the end of the game," Allen said. "It was during the game, so the adrenaline was running so it wasn't that bad. It was swollen, but it isn't so much now. It isn't that bad. We'll just put a little bit of tape on it." . . . Collins spoke of the need for Spencer Hawes to get good looks and make open jump shots, which will force the Chicago big men away from the basket and perhaps allow the Sixers to close the 47-38 rebounding gap from Game 1 . . . The Bulls shot 51 percent overall Sunday. Without Rose's 9 for 23, they shot 56 percent. . . . Game 3 is Friday at 8 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.