Phew, the Bulls players know what’s wrong!
“We know what our problem is; it’s black and white,” LaVine told reporters after the Bulls 109-106 loss the Thunder. “Stop giving up fourth-quarter leads, play better defense in the fourth quarter. Hold onto leads and sustain them. We’re getting those leads and keeping them into the fourth quarter. We’re giving up the game in the fourth. We know we’re a really good team. We just haven’t shown it on our record.”
Great! Problem solved!
Sorry, am I being too sassy?
To be clear, I don’t have any problem with anything LaVine said. I mean, he’s right. The statement just radiates a feeling of never-ending hopeless and redundant frustration. Indeed, one of the biggest issues plaguing the Bulls today is sitting right in front of their face, and they can’t do a thing about it. Well, maybe they can, but up until this point in time, they haven’t.
at Hornets: blow 10-pt lead in final 5:04
at Knicks: blow 8-pt lead in final 3:11
vs. Lakers: blow 13-pt lead in final 11:46
vs. Warriors: blow 9-pt lead in final 11:04
vs. Raptors: blow 8-pt lead in final 6:02
at Thunder: blow 26-pt 1st-half lead
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) December 17, 2019
When the Bulls have their hands on a fourth-quarter lead, the ensuing meltdown feels inevitable. Considering how many times these players have experienced this through their first 29 games of the season, it’s hard to imagine it isn’t impacting them mentally.
Head coach Jim Boylen continues to categorize these moments as learning opportunities, but the more they keep happening, the more evident it is that nothing’s being taught. The mental game and the discipline are nowhere to be found, and while those may sometimes be common signs of a young team, they’re also markers of poor leadership.
“It didn’t go our way,” Boylen said after last night’s game. “I’m not going to make this into we’re less than or we’re not this or we’re not that. We’re learning, we’re growing.”
What does that even mean? Seriously. A little coach speak every now and then is expected from everyone, but it’s like all he knows. Boylen mentions this team is “learning” and “growing” after every single game, and chances are when he says “we’re” he means “I’m.” Boylen doesn’t know how to win, and if the head coach doesn’t know, neither will the players.
I’m honestly stunned by the number of coaching blunders by Chicago in that game.
-The TO mentioned below
-The challenge that had little chance burning the final TO with 1:22 left.
-Taking Carter out on a huge rebounding FT situation.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) December 17, 2019
Just look at how simple LaVine’s reasoning is. The Bulls know they aren’t winning because they can’t hold onto leads, duh. The more important conclusion to come to is why that keeps happening. In other words, hitting more shots and playing better defense both need to be done to win the 4th quarter, but the Bulls need to figure out why they aren’t doing either of those things.
Well, unfortunately, the lesson regarding how to preserve a win isn’t part of the Jim Boylen curriculum. If the Bulls are finally going to learn it, then someone’s going to have to teach the teacher first.