The NBA season is full of ups and downs, and last week was certainly the latter.
After a massive comeback victory over the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls suffered their first two-game losing streak of the young season. Both losses came to a banged-up 76ers team, one that was able to grab a lead as large as 14 in both matchups. While the resiliency DeMar DeRozan and Co. continued to show against a 2021 playoff team was encouraging, it was also a reminder of how dangerous playing from behind can be. Much like my ability to do The Worm, erasing a double-digit deficit has its moments, but that moment shouldn’t be every night.
Places it’s acceptable to do The Worm:
Privacy of your own home
Places it’s not acceptable to do The Worm:
Cousin’s First Communion
Middle of the Highway
Apple Orchard (no one likes a worm with their apple)
• As discouraged as some may have been my last week’s tumble, let’s remember (1) both losses came against the East’s current top team, and (2) we are only nine games into the season. The fact of the matter is the Bulls have still put together one of the more surprising and encouraging starts to the year, and this week’s power rankings reflect that. Chicago didn’t even budge in ESPN’s latest, claiming the same No. 9 spot they did before last week’s 1-2 stint. The Athletic did give the team a slight slap on the wrist, but they only dropped the Bulls two spots to the NBA’s 12th-best team. Sounds reasonable to me.
• The question now is how will the Bulls respond to their first underwhelming week of the season? I tend to believe we will see this more experienced group stay the competitive course, but I’d be lying if I said the potential to spiral a bit further isn’t there. Kevin Durant and James Harden will kick off this week’s four-game slate tonight at the United Center. Then, Chicago will have to face Luka Doncic, Steph Curry, and Paul George. The Bulls have shown they have the firepower to hang with most teams in the league, but they will need to take strides offensively this week to combat the effort of some superstar talent.
• It all starts in the first quarter. The Bulls have the 5th-overall net rating in the league, but they rank just 15th in the first quarter. Weighing them down the most is their offensive rating, which ranks 25th in the 1st quarter compared to 9th-overall. Whether it’s a lack of energy, the inability to get Nikola Vucevic going, or Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan misunderstanding who should set the tone, this team has repeatedly come out flat against competition that can take full advantage. In my opinion, this is arguably the biggest storyline heading into another challenging week (aside from Vooch’s slump). I know building chemistry takes more than nine games, especially for a roster with three former primary scoring options, but this team has too many offensive weapons to keep stumbling out the gate.
• Speaking of offensive weapons, the Brooklyn Nets have found their groove. After starting the seasons 2-3, the Nets have won five-straight games, with their most recent victory coming against the Toronto Raptors behind a 59-point combined effort from Durant and Harden. Stopping this team when those two get in a rhythm is practically impossible, which is why it feels so important for this team to click on the offensive end. Brooklyn has had at least five players reach double-figures in four-straight games, while the Bulls have only reached that mark once in the last four contests.
• Zach LaVine basically can’t use his left thumb, and he is still one of the most deadly scorers in the league.
Which high-usage guards (over 25% usage rate) lead the NBA in True Shooting %? Per NBA Stats:
1. Zach LaVine – 59.2% 🔥
2. Stephen Curry – 59.0%
3. Tyler Herro – 57.9%
4. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – 57.7%
5. Ja Morant – 57.2% pic.twitter.com/tSl1iipJV4
— BasketballNews.com (@basketbllnews) November 7, 2021
• I know one guy who can help the Bulls offense, and he is closer than ever to making a return!
Coby is getting close. https://t.co/ilUCSIyNpK
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) November 8, 2021
• I probably shouldn’t stir the pot, but I live for the drama. Wendell Carter Jr. has looked real comfortable over in Orlando to start the season. The big man has a massive 22 points, 15 rebounds, and FOUR 3’s in a victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday. He is now averaging 13.7 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists on 50.8 percent shooting from the field and 39.5 percent shooting from downtown to start the season. Meanwhile, Nikola Vucevic is sitting at 13.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists on 38.0 percent shooting from the field and 25.6 percent from downtown.
Breakout of the Night: Wendell Carter Jr. pic.twitter.com/oDvvun5Bk1
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) November 8, 2021
• No, I’m not saying the Bulls made a mistake in acquiring Vucevic. I still do that deal in a heartbeat, and we should keep in mind Carter is doing this on a 3-8 Magic team. With that said, it just underscores how underwhelming Vucevic has been to start the season, and how big of an investment this organization made in his abilities.
• If I’m the Celtics … I hang up the phone on this immediately.
The Celtics are interested in trading for Ben Simmons, per @ShamsCharania
Any deal for Simmons would have to include Jaylen Brown pic.twitter.com/lA7uBSdVoJ
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 8, 2021
• oh. cool.
Otto Porter has Chase Center ROCKIN’ 🔥
Three triples on three straight possessions! pic.twitter.com/AxAUQdUeVp
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) November 8, 2021
• If the Bulls start to make you sad tonight … you can be sadder and turn on the Bears.
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) November 8, 2021
• New coach, new vibes?
Enhanced Box Score: Blackhawks 2, Predators 1 (OT) – November 7, 2021 https://t.co/qcTtcfjCu5
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) November 8, 2021