LaVine Questionable, the Post-All-Star Break Plummet, Where Did the Offense Go? And Other Bulls Bullets

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LaVine Questionable, the Post-All-Star Break Plummet, Where Did the Offense Go? And Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

As much as I wanted to believe the Bulls turned a corner after a pivotal road win in Cleveland, I refused to let myself. Last night reminded me why.

With a chance to build some real momentum heading into their final seven games of the season, the Bulls added another concerning loss to their post-All-Star break resume. The team now sits 5-11 over their last 16 games, and they’ve piled up four wins against teams that rest well below them in the league standings.

It’s truly difficult to put a finger on exactly what forced this aggressive 180. Once arguably the league’s most fun team to watch, the Bulls have turned into an inconsistent eye-sore that stands only a few inches away from the Play-In Tournament.

More on that here … 

•   The Chicago Bulls have been one of the worst teams in the NBA since the All-Star break. I hate that I just typed that sentence. Since late February, the Bulls are tied for the 5th-worst winning percentage in the NBA, with a net rating among the bottom-5, as well. As we discussed late last week, Chicago’s offense is the most recent (and shocking) component to fall off a cliff. Even as the defense tumbled with Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball on the injury report, the Bulls had at least been able to stay competitive thanks to their bucket-getting trio of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic. All three have all been viewed as elite offensive talents at their respective positions, but whatever chemistry they had (and helped generate) at the outset of this season has all but evaporated.

•   The Bulls’ effective field goal percentage is 23rd since the All-Star Weekend, after sitting 4th heading into the break. LaVine, DeRozan, and Vucevic have still been able to pull off some strong performances – the three combined for 80 points at MSG – but the Bulls have struggled mightily to turn most of those into wins. Every night the team is searching for someone new to lend a helping hand, especially from behind the arc. The Bulls continue to shoot by far the fewest 3-pointers in the league. They were initially able to get away with this thanks to their superb efficiency, but a clip that previously sat first in the NBA has been just 22nd since the break. The team desperately misses the catch-and-shoot ability of Lonzo Ball (who was knocking down 7.4 attempts per game at a 42.3 percent rate), and they also desperately need someone like Coby White to step up.

•   White is either scalding hot or colder than a hairless cat in Antarctica. He’s only scored in double-figures once in the past five games, and he’s shooting just 32.0 percent from downtown over the last 10 contests. For a bench that lacks scoring depth, his hot hand is part of the reason the organization took him off the trading block this deadline. He could balance out the second unit and provide the kind of threatening scoring boost that comes in real handy during the postseason. However, White can’t seem to find any rhythm over his roughly 25 minutes per game, and it has certainly played a role in this offense’s spiral.

•   Turnovers and offensive rebounds also continue to be a back-breaker. The discrepancy in both departments paved the way for a loss last night, as the Bulls got out-rebounded on the offensive glass 13-6 and lost the point-off turnover battle 16-7. The team’s struggle in both categories is only going to get tougher as the games get tighter and more physical in the postseason. My only positive spin is that turnovers are something entirely in the Bulls’ control moving forward (the same can pretty much be said about fouling, which has been a major issue, as well). Rebounding, however, feels like a real personnel issue. The team’s lack of size continues to create a serious problem at times, which is why it feels like Donovan might simply have to give Patrick Williams more minutes.

•   The Bulls will try to right the ship tonight against the East’s 13th-seeded Washington Wizards. Zach LaVine will come into that game as questionable on the injury report, which doesn’t come as a tremendous surprise considering it’s the backend of a back-to-back. We saw the Bulls medical staff hand LaVine the same “left knee: soreness; injury management” designation when the Bulls played the Raps and Bucks back-to-back last week. For what it’s worth, LaVine went on to appear in that contest against Milwaukee.

•   Clippers All-Star Paul George is questionable to make his return tonight in Utah, which means he could very well be on the court for Thursday’s matchups at the United Center. Yippie. 

•   Hey, I know that guy!

•   LOL: You got to respect the honesty.

•   BOOOOO!!!

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.