One Final Matchup With the Bucks, 3-Point Shooting Woes, Billy Raves About DeMar, and Other Bulls Bullets

Social Navigation

One Final Matchup With the Bucks, 3-Point Shooting Woes, Billy Raves About DeMar, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

You know what they say: Third Fourth time’s the charm!

•   I can’t say I’d feel bad if the NBA schedule makers received a paper cut on the tip of their index fingers. Then, when going to grab a BandAid, they stubbed their toe before realizing only one BandAid remained … and it was that annoyingly oversized one. The Bulls’ post-All-Star break schedule has been downright brutal. No, I’m not using that as an excuse for the team’s discouraging play, but there is no question it’s made it difficult to gain any kind of momentum. And things will remain just as difficult over this final week of the regular season.

•   The Milwaukee Bucks will waltz into the United Center tonight with brooms in hand. After two surprisingly close battles with the Bulls earlier this season, the team did what was expected of them at the end of March in a dominant 126-98 victory. Chicago looked outmatched from the 2nd quarter on, which is somewhat similar to what we saw against the Miami Heat only a couple of days ago. So how can we believe that tonight will look anything different? To be honest, I’m not sure we can, but I do have an idea of what it will take for the Bulls to have a chance.

•   For me, winning and losing will ride heavily on the contributions of the Bulls’ supporting cast. The last time out, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic all scored above 20 points en route to a combined 64-point effort. Sure, we’d like to see a more efficient night from these three (shot 46.2 percent), but they mostly showed up to the Fiserv Forum ready to play. Not a single additional player on the roster was able to crack double figures. Ayo Dosunmu was the next closest with 7 points on a 3-8 performance off the bench. Meanwhile, Milwaukee ended the night with seven players with 10+ points and outscored the Chicago bench 43-27. If the Bulls want any chance of keeping this game close, they are going to need at least one more rotation player to step up against this experienced Bucks defense.

•   The Bulls will also want to consider hitting some gosh dang 3-point shots. No team allows more 3-point shot attempts per game than the Bucks. In fact, Milwaukee allows roughly 2.0 more attempts per game than the next closest team, and opponents have shot a solid 35.7 percent on those attempts this season. Taking advantage of these opportunities will be a critical part of keeping the game within reach, but I’m not sure I can bet on this team to do just that. The Bulls have shot the 4th-worst mark from behind the arc since the All-Star break, and the production has been particularly poor from role players like Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu.

•   The Bulls continue to shoot the fewest 3-point shot attempts per game, and Kirk Goldsberry put that further into perspective:

•   I’ll dedicate a longer post to this in the offseason, but the Bulls will simply have to add more consistent 3-point shooting down the road. While I understand this number is due to the team playing to their midrange strength, we’re also simply talking about a numbers game. I’ve already seen some point to the return of Lonzo Ball as a saving grace in this department, but his presence alone will not fix the growing problem. After all, the Bulls still shot the fewest attempts per game when he was on the floor earlier this season. Now, did he at least give this team a much more reliable catch-and-shoot threat? Absolutely, but the Bulls still need a more balanced shooting attack. I’m sure some of that will be addressed in free agency this summer, while the coaching staff also takes a closer look at their scheme. At the end of the day, no one is saying the Bulls have to sit top-5 in 3-point attempts, but they likely shouldn’t be dead last in today’s league.

•   As we wrote yesterday, the Chicago Bulls magic number is down to one.

•   I don’t know if this is anything, but the Bulls did step up in both tiebreaker games against both the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Seeing them recognize the moment and capitalize made for two of the more encouraging wins of the season. Of course, the Milwaukee Bucks might as well live on an entirely different planet when it comes to talent, but the Bulls have shown at least some kind of recent ability to rise to the occasion. One can only hope they do that again tonight.

•   David Kaplan brought Billy Donovan onto his brand new NBC Sports Chicago show called “Unfiltered,” and the Bulls head coach sounded genuinely giddy while talking about DeMar DeClosin’.

“Marc Eversley, who has worked with DeMar in Toronto, raved about him as a leader, as a person, and the kind of guy he would be in the locker room. So, when we got him, just listening to Marc talk about DeMar, he couldn’t have been anymore correct.

He is a great leader. He is very very selfless; to your point, going to Ayo’s jersey retirement at the University of Illinois. What he’s meant to the team. His composure, his poise, his patience. The way he’s tried to help young players. I mean, he’s been an incredible boost for us. I think a lot of people were really concerned about what kind of fit it would be for him in Chicago, and he’s one of those players that he’s just got such a good feel and understanding of how to play the game that you could almost put anybody around him and he figures out a way to be productive.”

•   To reiterate what I said after the Los Angeles Clippers game: DeRozan’s growing Bulls legacy will be one of the main reasons we remember this season fondly regardless of its outcome. He’s likely already cemented himself as the team’s best free-agent signing, and the way he’s embraced his role in putting this organization back on the map has been a special story to watch. Anyway, catch the full conversation between Kap and Donovan below:

•   Despite a bad knee, Zach LaVine has still found a way to improve his game.

•   That’s Windy City Bull Devon Dotson, to you!

•   I’m going to need the NBA to start doing a One Shining Moment pronto.

•   LET’S GOO!

Latest from Bleacher Nation:

Author: Elias Schuster

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