Another Battle with the Suns, Building Chemistry, Only 27 Games Left, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Another Battle with the Suns, Building Chemistry, Only 27 Games Left, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

The losing streak ends tonight! Let’s goooooo!

[immediately sees this tweet]

Eh, okay, maybe not.

•   The Chicago Bulls might be without Zach LaVine, Coby White, and Garrett Temple tonight, as they gear up to play the second-best team in the Western Conference. The first time these two met, it wasn’t pretty for Chicago, who got outscored by a disastrous 66-44 in the paint. They also had no answer for Chris Paul, who dished out 15 assists, six of which came in the 4th quarter. Maybe the Bulls can surprise us and hang around longer than expected – after all, they do have a much-improved presence down-low this time around – but I’m not going into this game with optimistic expectations. The Suns are a pretty no-nonsense team that is built to take care of lesser opponents (2nd best Net Rating in the NBA). So, yeah, my focus isn’t going to be on a win.

•   Instead, I’m just going to continue to look for the Bulls new players to show signs of comfort. If LaVine is sidelined – which I anticipate – then it could be a good opportunity for the supporting cast to get a better feel for Nikola Vucevic. I’m sure it has been a pretty big chemistry shock for everyone involved to have two go-to players on the court at once, but now guys like Tomas Satoransky, Thaddeus Young, Patrick Williams, and Lauri Markkanen can gather a greater understanding of Vooch’s game. Likewise, a potential LaVine absence will surely put more pressure on the team as a whole, so perhaps some of the new guys can step up in a way we haven’t seen yet.

•   The Ringer’s Rob Mahoney wrote a really solid piece on the Bulls current situation – one that is pretty exciting … but also pretty confusing.

•   Mahoney shared a point I’ve been trying to stress as of late: “It’s an amazing amount to digest, with little time to spare … Accepting this trade means accepting the stakes of a compressed schedule. The regular season ends in a month and a half. To last beyond it, the Bulls will need to win enough games to hold their ground as a play-in team or, preferably, climb into the mess of .500-adjacent teams that stretch from fourth place in the East to ninth.” The Bulls don’t have a lot of time, folks. Only 27 games remain between now and the postseason, and the Bulls schedule is by no means a cup of tea. There is no question this team is a much better unit than when we started the season, but it’s hard to say whether or not the result will reflect that. Time and convenience just aren’t on their side. The coaching staff might be stable and the new players might be experienced, but there is no rushing chemistry. Some things just take time, and that’s going to be the case for this Bulls roster that went through a massive mid-season change.

(Michael: One thing I want to point out, here, is that you have to acquire star-level talent whenever it’s available. So, yes, getting Vucevic when they did was about winning this season, but it’s also about next year. Zach LaVine will still be around (hopefully for much longer than that) and so will Vuc, Pat Williams, and several other “core” members of this team. The trade certainly did prioritize the present – there’s no doubt about that – but the “present” is more than 2021.)

•   As far as immediate impacts go, though, Daniel Theis has already toughened up the Bulls identity.

•   We talked more about what he brings to the team and his debut performance on Tuesday, so make sure to give it a read.

•   New Run With Us episode covers everything from LaVine All-Star Game appearance to Vooch’s arrival. As always, it’s stellar work from the BullsTV crew.

•   Also, if you watch this episode for anything, it should be the section about Coby White’s pre-game hoodies. The second-year guard has worked with his sister and a friend’s company to raise awareness for a number of causes this season. It’s truly awesome stuff from a truly awesome dude.


Author: Elias Schuster

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