LaVine and Markkanen Planned to Take Over the Game, Even If It Meant a "Break" from the Offense

Social Navigation


LaVine and Markkanen Planned to Take Over the Game, Even If It Meant a “Break” from the Offense

Chicago Bulls

I think it’s safe to say, the Bulls didn’t expect to have one of the worst offenses in the NBA heading into the regular season. How could they?

After all, the entire offseason was spent hyping us up over the potential of Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine – the team’s two supposed All-Stars.

But LaVine and Markkanen never hit their stride early on, and the offense suffered greatly because of it. Indeed, finding a way for those two players to click in the Bulls’ current offensive scheme has been an enigmatic, yet critical challenge for Boylen’s Bulls all season. Sure, there’ve been nights where either guy has gone off, but getting both going at once (i.e. the key to the Bulls sustained success) just hasn’t happened.

That is, until last night, when they apparently took matters into their own hands.

Check out what Markkanen had to say after the game (via The Athletic): “We talked about playing our game and we ended up being in a couple of pick-and-rolls more than we’ve been this year. We talked about it before the game. We’ve kind of gotten away from that.” Oh.

LaVine elaborated on this point, saying that he and Markkanen started going to more of a “two-man game,” even if “we had to break a little bit from the offense.”

In other words, two of the Bulls young stars recognized an offensive scheme that wasn’t quite working for them and decided together to change it, even if it meant “breaking” away from what may have otherwise been the prescribed direction of the team.

I’m not particularly thrilled that it took 21 games for these two to hijack the offense, but I’m glad they (1) talked about it beforehand, (2) landed on a gameplan, (3) executed it, and (4) reaped the rewards.

Speaking of the rewards … For the first time since March 1st, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen each scored 20 or more points in an NBA basketball game. After the first full quarter of the 2019-20 season came and went, it finally happened.

Indeed, head coach Jim Boylen checked his duo back into the game at the 7:59 mark of the 4th quarter and the duo went on to score 17 of the Bulls final 21 points in a game they won by seven (Markkanen made his way to the free-throw line twice, while LaVine knocked down two clutch 3-pointers to keep the Kings out of striking distance).

When the final buzzer sounded, Markkanen walked off the court with 20 points and 7 rebounds. The win marks only the third time this season The Finnisher posted 20 or more points and only the second time he hit four 3-pointers in a game. As for LaVine, he finished his second-straight game with 28 points and five made 3-pointers. Now, LaVine has scored 28 or more points in three consecutive games, which is only the second time he’s done that in his career.

Check out LaVine’s highlights:

And now Markkannen:

You love to see it.

You’d love to see more of it.

All we can do now is hope this two-man game doesn’t go away. While it’s fair to point out the team almost suffered another painful 4th quarter collapse, it’s also fair to point out that the Bulls did pull off the win, and it was finally because of their two best players. And not only that, the more centralized (on themselves) offensive attack didn’t seem to hurt the rest of the roster.

Setting aside the fact that none of the Bulls starters finished with a positive plus-minus, the lineup managed to have one of their better statistical outings of the year – four of the Bulls’ five starters scored in the double-digits.

In at least one way, the Bulls may have finally gotten over a small hump here. The supposed leaders of this team stepped up when it mattered most and took control of a team they were supposed to beat. Now, the goal moving forward is to do whatever it takes to keep them trending upward.

Time to let LaVine and Markkanen run the show.

(Photo by Getty Images)


Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is a writer for Bleacher Nation and a human being. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.