Playing Undermanned, the Cavs Are Very Big, Rockets Win Streak, and Other Bulls Bullets

While a 115-92 Bulls loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers used to be cause for concern, it’s nothing short of understandable considering the current circumstances.

When six rotation players are either stuck on the couch or stuck on the bench, games like this are bound to happen. But the Bulls still had Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic! AHHH!!! Sure, these two All-Star-caliber players can keep the Bulls afloat on some nights, as they did against the Denver Nuggets, but asking them to do it surrounded by back-of-bench pieces will only come with varying success.

•   To be clear, that isn’t to say the Bulls bench is necessarily weak. The team has several individual players who can fill needed roles alongside Chicago’s core group. However, that’s exactly the problem, the Bulls core group is currently non-existent. With no DeMar DeRozan, Javonte Green, Coby White, Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams, or Matt Thomas, the Bulls are painfully limited across the board. Ayo Dosunmu and Derrick Jones Jr. moving into the starting lineup has forced Billy Donovan into quite the second unit scramble. Last night, the head coach ran a lineup of Ball-Dotson-Brown-Johnson-Bradley, something he was practically forced to do to give LaVine and Vucevic a breather. This five-man group is made up of FOUR players who have primarily been out of the Bulls rotation this season. Those four players also failed to score until Bradley gave Chicago its first bench points two minutes into the 4th quarter.

•   Think of it like a decked-out charcuterie board. The assorted cheese is the staple and it’s surrounded by some complimentary crackers. Then, off to the side, you got some apricot jam spread and a bowl full of olives. Rather than creating the elegant bite of cheese, spread, and cracker, the Bulls have been forced to shove a handful of olives into their mouth. Hey, nothing against one olive or maybe two, but ALL olives!? That’s … uh … salty.

•   Ope! And just like that, Jones will be out, too. Sigh. More on this in a second.

 

•   Zach LaVine seemed to have the right perspective after last night’s game. Notably bummed by the outcome, he couldn’t help but play the balancing act between true disappointment and recognizing the cards this team has unexpectedly been dealt.

“I don’t walk into the game like, ‘woe us,’” LaVine said. “But you understand that it’s going to be, obviously, harder than it’s going to be with everybody back though. Just try to gather the guys. Try to figure it out throughout the game. It’s not going to be perfect. Obviously, it wasn’t tonight. It’s going to be tough. I think we can fight through it. Obviously, I still go in thinking we’re going to be okay and we can win.” 

•   We can’t chalk all shortcomings up to a depleted roster, though. The fact of the matter is the oversized Cavaliers pose quite the mismatch for this small-ball Bulls team. While a fully healthy group would have helped Chicago better space the floor, they still would have likely had a hard to establishing their normal presence in the paint. The frontcourt combo of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley can swallow drives to the rim and force players into off-balance looks. They also helped the Cavs take care of business on the glass, combining for 21 rebounds and guiding the Cavs to a 37-26 defensive rebounding advantage. Fortunately, Chicago isn’t going to face many teams THIS big, but last night was another reminder of how undersized this group plays.

•   I am not looking forward to dealing with Mobley four times a year for the foreseeable future. The No. 3-overall pick has easily been one of the best rookies this season, and the defensive instinct he possesses at just 20 years old is truly special. Not to mention, the work he can do off the dribble as a driver from the perimeter is pretty remarkable for a guy his size. I don’t want to spend too much time hyping up the enemy, but I believe he could be only a couple of years away from being a perennial All-Star. Comparisons to Chris Bosh flooded in during the pre-draft process, and it’s impossible not to see the similarities.

•   Remember when the Bulls lost to the Rockets before Thanksgiving and it made us all rip our hair out (taking family photos with a bald spot was not fun)? Well, the Rockets have not lost since that night and now have victories over the Hornets and Nets to show for. So while I’m not necessarily claiming that to be an acceptable loss – it wasn’t – we can all at least take some solace in knowing they are one of the hotter teams in the league.

•   Amazing honor for the Bulls rookie.

•   I still can’t believe this happened.

•   Uh … that’s a lot of injuries.

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

more bulls news

NBA Finals Injury News: Updates on Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis

After entering the day as questionable, the Boston Celtics have officially ruled out Kristaps Porzingis for Game 3 of the NBA Finals. The Celtics received some very concerning news regarding their big man on Tuesday. Porzingis suffered a left leg...

Zach LaVine Sure is Looking Healthy …

One year after playing his most games since the 2015-16 season, Zach LaVine suited up for the second-fewest contests in his career. The max player appeared in his last game on January 18, 2024. He opted for foot surgery in...

2024 NBA Mock Draft: Still Lots of Questions Two Weeks From Draft Night

With the NBA Draft just two weeks away, we still have a lot of uncertainty in the lottery and the first round as a whole. Projections are a bit all over the place as this year's draft class isn't necessarily...

You Have to See This Young Fan’s Reaction to High-Fiving Angel Reese

Angel Reese's rookie year is off to a strong start. Averaging a near double-double (11.2 points and 9.6 rebounds) to go along with almost 2.0 steals per game, Reese has flashed the two-way potential many hoped to see from the...

NBA Free Agency: Who Are the Best Free Agent Forwards?

The NBA Finals are in full gear, which means NBA free agency is almost here. Last week we covered the class of free-agent guards, and while there were a couple of notable names, the potential forward group of free agents...

MJ’s Statement on Jerry West, Re-Sign Green? Caruso & the 76ers, and Other Bulls Bullets

The NBA wouldn't be what it is today without the on and off-court contributions of Jerry West. RIP to the epitome of a legend. https://www.bleachernation.com/bulls/2024/06/12/rip-jerry-west As the news spreads, an increasing number of teams and NBA figures have shared their...

RIP: “The Logo” Jerry West Passes Away

Jerry West has passed away at 86 years old, multiple sources shared on Wednesday morning. One of the most important figures in NBA history, West had most recently served as an executive with the Los Angeles Clippers. The latter stage...

Coby White’s Praise of Billy Donovan Could Speak Volumes

A finely coated layer of humility has covered Coby White since he entered the league. Whether it be his famous "wow, bro" moment at the 2019 NBA Draft or his ability to embrace an ever-changing role in Chicago, White has...

The Celtics Just Got a Concerning Injury Update on Kristaps Porzingis

Just two games after returning from a calf injury suffered in the first round, Kristaps Porzingis is in danger of missing time due to an injury suffered in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. In Boston's 105-98 win over the...

So … Michael Jordan Beat the Second-Best Golfer in the World

According to the PGA Tour's current world rankings, Xander Schauffele sits behind only recent Master's winner Scottie Scheffler as the best golfer in the world. And Michael Jordan took that personally. The 2024 PGA Championship winner recently spoke with CBS...

Latest News

Cardinals vs. Pirates Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Thursday, June 13, 2024

The St. Louis Cardinals (32-34) and Pittsburgh Pirates (32-35) meet Thursday at Busch Stadium, with first pitch at 2:15 PM ET on SportsNet PT. The Cardinals are -110 moneyline favorites for the contest, however, the Pirates are favored against the...

Yankees vs. Royals Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Thursday, June 13, 2024

Two of the league's top hitters will meet Thursday when the New York Yankees (49-21) and Kansas City Royals (39-30) take to the field at 2:10 PM ET, live on YES. Juan Soto is batting .317 for the Yankees (-172...

Aces vs Mercury: Best Bets, Player Props & Computer Picks – June 13

The Phoenix Mercury (6-6) will look to Kahleah Copper (third in WNBA, 24 points per game) going up against A'ja Wilson (first in league, 28.3) and the Las Vegas Aces (5-5) on Thursday, June 13, 2024 at Footprint Center. The...

Best MLB Prop Bets Today, June 13, 2024

In one of the 11 compelling matchups on the MLB schedule today, the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals hit the field at Kauffman Stadium.If you're interested in MLB prop bets for today's games, we're here to assist...

Las Vegas Aces vs. Phoenix Mercury: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

A pair of the WNBA's best scorers face off when A'ja Wilson (first, 28.3 points per game) and the Las Vegas Aces (5-5) visit Kahleah Copper (third, 24) and the Phoenix Mercury (6-6) on Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 10:00...

Tigers vs. Nationals Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Detroit Tigers (32-35) will be out to avoid the sweep when they host the Washington Nationals (32-35) to complete a three-game series. Sportsbooks have listed the Tigers as -152 favorites for the series finale, while the Nationals are +128...

Orioles vs. Braves Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Baltimore Orioles (45-22) and Atlanta Braves (35-30) meet Thursday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, starting at 1:05 PM ET on BSSO. The Orioles are -114 moneyline favorites for the contest, however, the Braves are favored against the spread...

Yankees vs. Royals Probable Starting Pitchers – June 13

The New York Yankees (49-21) look to add to a four-game winning streak as they visit the Kansas City Royals (39-30) at 2:10 PM ET on Thursday.This contest's pitching matchup is set, as the Yankees will send Nestor Cortes Jr....

Orioles vs. Braves Probable Starting Pitchers – June 13

The Atlanta Braves (35-30), who lost their previous five games, face the Baltimore Orioles (45-22) at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Thursday. First pitch is at 1:05 PM ET.The Orioles will call on Cole Irvin (6-2) against the Braves...

Cardinals vs. Pirates Probable Starting Pitchers – June 13

The Pittsburgh Pirates (32-35) go on the road at Busch Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals (32-34) at 2:15 PM ET on Thursday.The probable starters are Lance Lynn (2-3) for the Cardinals and Mitch Keller (8-3) for the Pirates.Cardinals vs....

more bulls news