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Coby White on Monday? First Back-to-Back, What to Make of the Clippers, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

I want to say that Friday night’s 119-93 loss to the Golden State Warriors is a “flush it” game. Ya know, throw the film in the middle of the locker room, toss out a few bats, beat it to a pulp, and ceremonially send it down the toilet. However, I got to be honest, I think the Bulls might be better off dissecting this one more than any other game.

While there isn’t much any team can do right now against the 11-1 Golden State Warriors – the NBA’s best defensive team and 2nd-best offensive team – this was the Bulls’ first experience playing without big man Nikola Vucevic. Diving into how the Warriors’ defense chose to stack up against DeRozan and LaVine could do them a lot of good moving forward. Not to mention, watching how the absence of Vucevic’s passing and screen-setting limited the halfcourt offense is the only way to come up with the best substitute.

•   I know playing without Vucevic is only supposed to be temporary, but head coach Billy Donovan was right when he said learning to play without him is the most beneficial thing long-term. We never know what can happen down the road, and the more flexible this team can learn to be the better. Plus, with two dynamic scorers like DeRozan and LaVine, there is no reason the offense should struggle as much as it did on Friday without Vucevic in the lineup.

•   A bounceback tonight will be far from easy. The Los Angeles Clippers may be missing Kawhi Leonard, but they have started the season strong with a balanced effort. The team’s net rating sits 4th in the NBA, and the early MVP-caliber play of Paul George has LA averaging the 7th-most points per game. Even more annoying, one night after playing this Clippers team, the Bulls will get to face off against Anthony Davis and Co. The Los Angeles Lakers may not be the deadliest squad at the moment, but we all know they have the talent and experience to give any team in the league a hard time. All things considered, you couldn’t ask for a much tougher first back-to-back set of the season, especially for a team missing its All-Star center, but this at least presents another opportunity for the Bulls to make a relatively significant statement to the rest of the league.

•   The Clippers average the 3rd-most fastbreak points per game, and they operate with the NBA’s 7th-highest PACE. We all know the Bulls are also one of the better teams at pushing the pace and killing teams in transition, but they struggled to do that on Friday night, getting killed on the glass (47-38) and in the fastbreak (18-7). The fact the Clippers are the league’s 28th-rebounding team should help the Bulls get back on track tonight, but we are still going to have to see a much more conscious effort to take care of the basketball. Chicago forked over a season-high 20 turnovers against the Warriors (Vucevic’s playmaking was missed), and they will now match up with an LA defense that forces their opponent into the 6th-most turnovers per game.

•   Good News Alert!

•   We all knew Coby White’s return was around the corner once the team cleared him to practice last week, but I’m not sure we knew it was this close. The third-year guard is reportedly in line to play the backend of this back-to-back, making his season debut tomorrow night against the Lakers. Now, if this does happen, let’s remember White will likely be on a minute restriction. We also must give him some slack if he fails to look like the White we remember right off the bat. Not only is he coming off the first significant injury of his career, but his role has once again seen a pretty drastic change from one season to the next.

•   Still, having White back should quickly take quite a bit of pressure off DeRozan. The 32-year-old is averaging his most minutes since 2016-17, which is in large part thanks to his much-needed scoring role with the second unit. Add White’s hot hand into the mix, and DeRozan should see his heavy early-season usage go down a bit.

•   Seeing Tyler Cook make an appearance on Friday was interesting. I’m sure it was mostly due to the blowout nature of the game, but he is another player who can add some size and physicality to the frontcourt. And the fact we saw him before Marko Simonovic tells me Donovan trusts him slightly more than the rookie right now.

•   Bummed that Vooch had to miss this.

•   BRING. HIM. TO. ME.

•   The Bears can’t lose today!



Author: Elias Schuster

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