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The Pistons Are Up First, Still No Alex Caruso, Chicago’s Pick-and-Roll, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Many of us have sat down on a Monday or Tuesday, looked at the schedule for the week, and immediately thought about curling up in a blanket, eating a burrito, and watching every single movie in the Marvel Universe.

While I’m sure the Chicago Bulls are excited to face the challenging week that rests ahead, I have to imagine there is already a tiny bit of fatigue looking at this upcoming slate. Billy Donovan and Co. have four games in five days, and two of those games will be live on ESPN against the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors.

Again, I’m sure this Bulls team is eager to continue to prove their worth, but I’m sure they’d also love a little bit more rest.

•   At least things start with the easiest game of the week! The Detroit Pistons will battle the Bulls for the third time this season. The first two games came back on October 20th (opening night) and 23rd, with the Bulls snatching victories in each contest. Since those early-season matchups, the Pistons have gone on to win just nine games and hold the second-worst record in the NBA. Meanwhile, the Bulls have done the exact opposite, adding 24 more victories to the board as they rise to the top of the Eastern Conference.

•   Make no mistake; however, the Pistons can get frisky. Just last night, we saw this developing team take down the third-best squad in the Western Conference. Behind 29 points from No. 1-overall pick Cade Cunningham and another 29 points from 2020 No. 19-overall pick Sadiqq Bey, the Pistons took down Donovan Mitchell and Co. 126-116. The win marked their fourth in the last six games, with one of those victories also coming against the Milwaukee Bucks.

•   Do I still think the Bulls should find themselves back in the win column tonight, especially after a frustrating loss on Sunday? Yes, but they simply can’t mess around with Detroit’s newfound confidence. I’d also be lying if I said the Pistons’ size doesn’t worry me a tiny bit. We all know the Bulls’ defense has been sliding in recent weeks (22nd-best since December 1st), and we’ve seen them have trouble staying in front of long and athletic wings. Kyle Kuzma gave the Bulls fits in both tight performances against the Wizards, Franz Wagner looked great for Orlando, Caris LeVert scored 27 points for the Pacers, and Josh freakin’ Green scored a career-high on the Bulls this weekend. Between Bey, Hamidou Diallo, and Cade Cunningham, the Pistons have some solid and versatile size on the perimeter to attack this Bulls team.

•   If Alex Caruso were back in the lineup, I’d be less concerned, but the Bulls have ruled him out again due to the league’s Health and Safety Protocols. Caruso has now missed the last eight games, and all we can do is hope he gets the green light to return by the end of this tough week.

•   HoopsHype listed the best pick-and-roll duos in the NBA, and the Chicago Bulls failed to get any recognition. As a team, the Bulls average the sixth more points per possession from pick-and-roll ball-handlers per game, according to NBA Stats. DeMar DeRozan averages the third-most PPP (points per possession) among players who have at least 9.0 possessions as a PnR ball-handler per game. Expand that to include players who average at least 8.0 possessions as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, and Zach LaVine is second in PPP behind only Donovan Mitchell. Meanwhile, Nikola Vucevic averages the most possessions per game as the roll man.

•   To be clear, I understand why the Bulls didn’t get a mention. They play an equal-opportunity offense, and the presence of LaVine and DeRozan as both strong ball handlers makes it hard to single out one over the other. Not to mention, while Vucevic is one of the better screeners in the league, he hasn’t been the most efficient scorer out of the PnR this season. So, I get it, but I still want to make clear the Bulls should be considered one of the more lethal PnR teams in the league!

•   This is always a great piece of content to look at ahead of trade season.

•   Speaking of trade season …

•   Hey, I know those guys in second place!

 

•   Absolute craziness is going on at BN Bears right now, so make sure to follow along!



Author: Elias Schuster

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