PRAISE THE BASKETBALL LORD!!
The Bulls now get two days off for the first time since March 25-26.
— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) May 4, 2021
• Thanks to this Turducken-stuffed second-half schedule, the Bulls have been depleted of pretty much any and all practice time. And while we can’t (and won’t!) point to that as the reason the team has failed to reach post-trade deadline expectations, it sure hasn’t helped. Adding a high-usage player like Nikola Vucevic into the mix comes with a learning curve, especially when the team’s pre-existing best player has struggled to stay on the floor. Not to mention, numerous other players saw their roles change while the style of plays took a drastic turn. The Bulls saw their PACE go from 8th in the league before the deadline to 25th. That’s a massive change.
• To be clear, I’m not trying to make excuses on the Bulls’ behalf. There is still a 100 percent chance I’ll go bald from stress if I hear Arturas Karnisovas or Marc Eversley start a sentence with, “when Zach got hurt.” But I do think those are variables we have to continue to keep in mind as we look ahead. I know it feels like the worst outcome has reared its ugly head, and it will feel that way even more if the Bulls lose their first-round pick, but I’d still rather have a LaVine-Vooch combo than the alternative. No matter the case, that is still the best asset pool the team had walked into an offseason with recently. It’s now up to the new front office to make sure they take advantage of that.
• Speaking of LaVooch, the Bulls should get back at least one of their All-Stars on Thursday. Vucevic’s status, albeit not serious, remains a bit unknown. However, head coach Billy Donovan did give a very positive update on LaVine before last night’s game.
Injury Update: Bulls Hopeful LaVine Will Return Thursday, Vucevic Will Miss Second-Straight Gamehttps://t.co/bPZrVgVXg3
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) May 3, 2021
• I’ll say it again: No, I wouldn’t shut down LaVine or Vucevic. Would I monitor their minutes a little more closely? Sure, but I’m not taking them off the court entirely. These are the two the organization has centered the immediate future around, and that means these are the two who need to build the most chemistry by season’s end. The duo has only played 10 games with each other since the Vucevic deal was done, so any last-second in-game experience they can grab before the regular season comes to a close, the better.
• At the same time, I’d totally be cool with guys like Al-Farouq Aminu and Javonte Green earning more playing team. Both guys played a pivotal role in the Bulls comeback effort on Monday. Green, specifically, played his most impactful basketball in a Bulls uniform yet. His defensive energy and athleticism off the bench had me wondering why he has struggled so much to crack the rotation in any capacity. I know Ryan Arcidiacono and Denzel Valentine offer more shooting, but Green presents a higher defensive upside that fits more with what the Bulls have been trying to do as of late. Donovan spoke highly of him after the game, so I’ll be curious to see if that makes any difference over these remaining seven contests.
• In the meantime, Green will stay ready …
Asked about the jolt he provided tonight with his defensive disruption, Green said: "That’s exactly why I’m here. Play good defense and bring the energy that the team lacks." https://t.co/FMN7Ww4fvL
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) May 4, 2021
• Donovan attributed the lack of Aminu minutes to a minutes restriction that he was on at the time of the trade. The veteran did return from a torn meniscus earlier this season, so it’s not too shocking to see the Bulls be extra careful with him. I still think I’d try to extend the leash over these final two weeks, though. Aminu is under contract next season, so this front office has to get an idea of how valuable he can be moving forward. The guy is still only 30-years-old and has 40 playoff games under his belt. If he can get fully healthy, there is still a chance he could be a valuable defensive role player in the rotation next season (or even become a trade chip).
• Clutch Coby was back in full force last night. After Green did some of the dirty work on defense, White took over on the other end and scored 15 points in the 4th quarter. He scored or assisted on 17-straight points for Chicago to shave a 20-point 4th quarter deficit to just one point.
That was a wonderful drive and dish from Coby White to set up Denzel Valentine 3. And then White hits Valentine with a long pass for another 3.
Time and again, White has displayed the ability to bounce back strong in games after rough stretches. It's an admirable trait.
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) May 4, 2021
LEAD 'EM BACK, COBY pic.twitter.com/q0r9DWuhdz
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) May 4, 2021
• You think the Bulls miss Zach?
The Bulls have been held under 100 points in 4 straight games, tied for the second longest streak in the NBA this season (Cavs – 9 straight).
— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) May 4, 2021
• ICYMI: Russell Westbrook did Russell Westbrook things last night.
Russell Westbrook recorded his second career 20-assist, 20-rebound game tonight.
He's the only player with multiple 20-assist, 20-rebound games in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/2FT721fnPF
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 4, 2021