To anyone that came to say hello this weekend at Cubs Convention … thanks!
Focusing on the Cubs for a weekend was a nice change of pace – even though they’ve got their own problems – but it’s time to return my full attention to the Chicago Bulls. Lucky me.
- Last night might have been an ugly win, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun. Zach LaVine’s late-game heroics saved the day once again for Chicago and it made for an exciting close.
- While LaVine did most of the heavy lifting, he did get some help from Lauri Markkanen. The Finnisher played the entirety of the 4th quarter last night, scoring 7 of his 17 points, and otherwise ended the game with 33 minutes (his most in the last six games). Given how the Bulls have been playing, there is no reason Markkanen shouldn’t be on the court (1) in crunch time and (2) for 33 minutes a game. At the moment, he’s averaging only 30.2 minutes per game compared to 32.3 last season. Jim Boylen has to keep the minutes up moving forward. Live and die by The Finnisher.
- The Bulls also made a relatively surprising defensive adjustment at the end of the game. Instead of sticking with the aggressive pick-and-roll, they went for the switch, which drew some rare praise.
Kris Dunn on Bulls' 4th-quarter defense: "We switched a little bit, changed it up on them. I love what the coaches did, gave them a different look."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 19, 2020
- Kris Dunn is correct, that was the right idea. The Bulls held the Cavaliers to only 14 points in the 4th quarter, which reaffirms the fact that Boylen should be open to changing his scheme when it calls for it. Chicago might have the 8th best defensive rating in the NBA, but in January, they’re ranked 20th. It was time to make adjustments.
Rewatching the 4th quarter of Bulls/Cavs. I think the switching really threw Cleveland. Also some of the same help principles they've worked on with blitzing helped them out. Hutch had two steals in the first few minutes pic.twitter.com/otPXA1Tewg
— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) January 19, 2020
- Also, while the coaching staff might have finally made one appropriate in-game change, Boylen still almost blew it on his own at the end of the game. Rather than forcing the Cavs to send a Bulls player to the line, Boylen called a timeout and made his team have to inbound the ball. The Bulls then threw the ball out of bounds and handed the Cavaliers an opportunity to win the game. Fortunately, the Cavs failed to knock down the bucket and Boylen avoided some harsh questioning.
- Zach LaVine appreciation thread:
PPG leaders in January:
1. Booker – 31.9
t2. Harden – 31.7
t2. Kawhi – 31.7
4. LAVINE – 30.6
5. Trae – 30.3
6. Russ – 30.0
7. Giannis – 29.0
8. Luka – 28.8
9. DeRozan – 28.5
t10. Ingram – 27.0
t10. LeBron 27.0
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) January 19, 2020
- The late All-Star push continues.
It’s not Zach LaVine’s fault Jim Boylen is his coach and the FO is who they are. 25/5/4 on 45/39/83. All-Star. Period https://t.co/3trNn0XqFH
— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) January 19, 2020
- Once again, Boylen played every single one of his players except Denzel Valentine. I don’t know what happened between these two, but it’s clear that Boylen has it out for him. It feels like only a matter of time before this guy is sent elsewhere, but I respect him for keeping up the energy on the bench.
Have to give it to @denzelvalentine, despite being alienated by Jim & refused playing time even in garbage mins… you won’t find a player on the bench more excited for his teammates. Criminal the neglect he’s getting with this roster construction, but he’s being a pro about it.
— Bulls Scripted (@BullScripted) January 19, 2020
- Wait, what … why!?