How Bulls used halftime film session to slow Mavericks’ Luka Dončić

How a halftime film session helped Bulls slow Dončić originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

At halftime of their 117-101 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, the Bulls held a lead of a nearly identical margin: 67-52.

Head coach Billy Donovan was far from satisfied.

Why? Well, the Bulls’ last game, an overtime loss to the Thunder, featured a 18-point halftime lead that was eventually squandered in catastrophic fashion. That factors in.

But more pressing: Mavericks star Luka Dončić had 30 points, seven rebounds, five assists and six made 3s entering the break. Twenty of those points and four of those 3s came in the second quarter, which he closed with 14 points and three stepback long-balls in a three-minute span. 

“When he’s going left he likes to step back, but I didn’t think that we closed down airspace well enough, especially to close the half out when he made those threes,” Donovan said.

The solution? A halftime film session.

“We actually showed our guys some clips of that at halftime,” Donovan said. “Garrett (Temple), Zach (LaVine) and Patrick (Williams), when they were on him, when he was going left, they just stayed at kind of his hip. And I thought earlier in the game when he was going left we’d try to beat him to a spot. That’s when he was creating airspace. We just tried to close down in space.

“Even the step backs he took I thought they were highly contested. The ones he made in the first half, I thought we gapped him a little bit too much and there was too much distance between us and him and I think when you give him that much room and that much space it becomes a lot easier for him to generate those shots.”

Dončić’s second half line: Six points on 2-for-11 shooting, including 0-for-2 from deep and two free-throw attempts (he had just six in the game), the last tally a point of emphasis from Donovan entering play.

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Dončić did get his overall, notching his fourth triple-double of the season with a ludicrous 36-16-15 stat line. Ten of his 15 assists, it should be noted, came in the second half.

And Donovan shot down the notion that Dončić’s first to second-half disparity even came as a result of an adjustment by the Bulls. They simply better executed the intended gameplan all along.

“We didn’t change,” he said. “I just thought we did what we wanted to do early in the game in that second half.”

The Mavericks’ 101 points mark a season-low for a Bulls opponent. The Bulls’ 14 steals were a season-high. And, most importantly, a four-game losing streak was snapped.

RELATED: Observations: Bulls snap 4-game skid behind Lauri Markkanen, bench boost

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Published: 2021-01-18 02:08:20

Tags: #Bulls #halftime #film #session #slow #Mavericks #Luka #Dončić


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