Why we should not panic about the Vucevic trade, Exhibit A:
Vucevic put in work against the Celtics for the win 😤
29 PTS | 9 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK pic.twitter.com/vBf57vt5TL
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) April 20, 2021
• Folks, Nikola Vucevic is an All-Star, and the big man reminded everyone of that in last night’s huge win over the Boston Celtics. Vooch dominated from the opening tip, putting on an offensive clinic that featured fierce post-ups, smooth baseline fadeaways, and well-timed jump hooks. The guy simply played some damn good basketball, and his ability to take over games against fellow All-Star opponents is exactly the reason why he came with that big price tag. While things may have gotten off to an inconsistent start post-trade deadline, all the reasons for excitement moving forward remain intact.
• In the 14 games Vucevic has played since coming to Chicago, he has averaged 23.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game. The big man has also shot 50.6 percent from the field and 46.5 percent from downtown. Even in the midst of all these adjustments, Vooch hasn’t lost a step. He’s arrived in Chicago and given the team almost exactly what he gave Orlando, and that’s hard to do. If he can play this well on a team that has not yet been truly built up around him … think about what he can do when the front office begins the dirty work this offseason.
• Excuse me? Did someone who is talking about the Bulls just use the words “great” and “defending” in the same sentence?
Jayson Tatum on Bulls' D: "I gotta give them credit. They did a great job defending, showing help, just making it tough."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 20, 2021
• You know what’s even crazier than Jayson Tatum praising the Bulls’ D? The fact that he’s actually right! The Bulls have now held their opponent to under 96 points in two straight games for the first time since 2018 (h/t Jeff Mangurten). Before last night’s game, the Celtics had the 9th-highest post-trade deadline offensive rating. Sure, they were missing the likes of Kemba Walker and Robert Williams, but they still had their two best players on the floor (Tatum and Brown), and one of those players walked into Monday’s game averaging 32.7 points (Tatum) over their previous six-game win streak. Elite All-NBA level talent usually finds a way to carve up the Bulls, and while Tatum still recorded his first career triple-double, the team’s ability to hold him to just 14 points played a key role in their victory.
• When I say “the teams’ ability,” maybe I should really say “Garrett Temple’s ability.” The 34-year-old looked 10 years younger guarding Tatum, earning some major praise from his head coach: “Obviously, the guys on the ball did a good job at pursuing it. I thought Garrett did a great job with his effort and his hands on Tatum the whole game.” Temple’s active hands were contagious, too, as Vooch, Young, Theis, Williams, White, Satoransky, Brown, and Markkanen all recorded at least one steal. Most of the guys either poked away an interior pass or knocked the ball loose on an opposing player’s drive to the hoop. They were well-executed forced turnovers generated by help and physicality, which is something we’ve seen this team on the other end of all season long.
What do you want this #Bulls team to learn and take away from past two games, both wins?
Garrett Temple: "That defense can win games. The old saying still holds true."
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) April 20, 2021
• Why the sudden change in defensive execution and effort? Take it away, Coby: “We had a meeting with coach and a meeting with just players, and we got to come out ready to compete every game. Just bring physicality to every game. My main focus right now is just to get stops and the offense will take care of itself.” Gotta love a good old fashion player meeting.
• Vooch is a big man.
Vuc gets a lot of grief for being a bad defender. He admittedly isn't great guarding in space but he's smart and good at occupying space near the basket. He can do his job. Stopped a 3-on-1 break here. pic.twitter.com/unb9D49iaT
— Steph Noh (@StephNoh) April 20, 2021
This is such a great listen. Luol Deng joins @KCJHoop on the Bulls Talk Pod!
• Significance of leading the South Sudan Basketball Federation
• Whether the Bulls would've won a title if everyone stayed healthy
• Thibs stories
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) April 20, 2021
• Fans coming back?
Mayor Lightfoot Expects Fans at the UC Before the End of the Seasonhttps://t.co/F96Ad2NfJH
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) April 20, 2021