Billy Donovan Left Frustrated by Bulls Defense vs. Embiid

Billy Donovan Left Frustrated by Bulls Defense vs. Embiid


Joel Embiiid, left, and Bulls star Zach LaVine

When you are a coach whose defense just gave up a career high 50-point performance, even to an MVP candidate, you are allowed some frustration. And Bulls coach Billy Donovan was frustrated by the epic performance from Joel Embiid (who added 17 rebounds to his 50-piece) on Friday.

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Donovan tipped his hat to Embiid but suggested his team—including third-year center Wendell Carter—could have done a better job sticking with the gameplan against the Sixers center. Here’s what a clearly frustrated Donovan had to say:

Listen, he played a great game, but I thought we had a lot of mistakes. We left our feet for shot fakes, we fouled him, we took a really poor stance in post defense. Wendell picked up 2 fouls, obviously probably fouls he maybe could have avoided. I thought when we did play him correctly, I thought our help was late on the back side when he went baseline. That happened too much.

They didn’t overcomplicate it. Thy played over our lack of size. They threw the ball up to the basket. They had those guys go get it, and Embiid played over the top of us. Some of that stuff, we couldn’t do anything with. There’s going to be some nights where we just can’t control that. They’re just bigger than us and longer and maybe stronger. But the other stuff that we can control, that’s the stuff that we got to keep cleaning up and being more consistent too.

Embiid Declares Himself ‘Unguardable’ After Bulls Game

Embiid is averaging 30.5 points and 11.0 rebounds on the year. Certainly, the Bulls tried to give Embiid different looks throughout the game, including sending double-teams at Embiid.  It did not matter much. Embiid simply shot over a lot of the doubles, and made eight of his 13 midrange attempts.

From Embiid’s persepctive, there was not much the Bulls could have done on Friday, not when his midrange shot was so effective.

“That’s what makes me unguardable,” Embiid said. “If you’re going to crowd me, I’m going to find my way to the free-throw line or I’m going to end up on the basket. If you’re going to back up on me, I’ve got that hesitation shot and I also got, my favorite, just the pull-up shot, just an easy shot I always get in the post.”

Embiid: It Is ‘Not About Coaching’

With due respect to Donovan, according to Embiid, his performance is not so much about coaching. Besides health, Embiid says there are other factors going into his MVP-caliber year. Experience is one, as is a new mindset. He also appreciates that GM Daryl Morey has added shooters like Danny Green and Seth Curry.

“It just feels like the game has slowed down for me,” he said. “Last year, honestly, the only difference from this year and last year is not so much about coaching, it is more about me being willing to just dominate every single minute I am on the floor. Last year I was going through a rough time and, you know, it was not there.

“Also, the moves that Daryl made adding all that shooting is helping a lot. But like I said it is not so much about coaching it is just about me just turning a corner and being willing to dominate every second.”

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