Can the Bulls Shake Off Game 3? Finding an Offensive Rhythm, A Noon Start Time, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Can the Bulls Shake Off Game 3? Finding an Offensive Rhythm, A Noon Start Time, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

So it can’t get more ominous than the worst home playoff loss in franchise history, right?



•   The beautiful thing about the NBA playoffs is that you get a chance to immediately right your wrongs. Blowouts happen. Are they all as grotesque as the one we saw on Friday night at the United Center? No. But the NBA has seen its fair share of monster wins on the postseason stage, and the NBA has also seen its fair share of teams bounce back from those devastating losses. The Chicago Bulls have no choice but to flush what happened in Game 3 down the drain, and head coach Billy Donovan sounds prepared to do just that:

“They’ve got to wrap their head around the fact whether it was a triple overtime game and lost on a halfcourt buzzer beater or we lost by 75 points, it’s all one game,” Donovan told NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson. “And I think when you come out of a game, whether you win by 30 or lose by 30, there are residual effects that come from that. I think that’s for any competitive group of guys.”

•   I know it sounds cliche, but the playoffs present the ultimate time to take things game-by-game. While it’s important to assess what did or did not work in your favor from one performance to the next, it’s even more important to walk into each game with a clear head. Anything can happen this time of year, and we’ve already seen that on full display in this series.

•   I expect the Bulls to come out with the same chip on their shoulder we saw in Game 2. Whether or not that leads to a victory, however, will ride on their ability to get back into an offensive rhythm. Game 3 reflected far too much of what we saw on opening night, as the Bulls shot just 39.3 percent from the field and 9-34 from downtown. They also got to the free-throw line for just a 6-10 performance, which reflected even further their inability to gain control of the pace of play. What we need to see tonight is a much more up-tempo and creative Bulls offense. They can’t lose the fastbreak battle 15-5, and they can’t expect the individual talent of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic to save them in the halfcourt. There needs to be more off-ball movement and a greater emphasis on getting downhill. I know that is a lot easier said than done against this Bucks defense, but the Bulls settled for way too many contested jumpers as opposed to trying to draw contact at the rim.

•   Speaking of contact at the rim, I don’t think it’s a coincidence this happened to be the Bulls worst rebounding effort of the series. After losing the battle by just five boards in Game 1 and one board in Game 2, Milwaukee out-rebounded Chicago by 12 on Friday night. A big reason for this disparity was the addition of Bobby Portis to the starting lineup. Alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez, he grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds. The Bulls are going to have to find a way to better counter his length and physicality this time around.

•   The Bucks put plenty of their attention on DeMar DeRozan in Game 3, and it led to a 4-9 performance from the field for just 11 points. Not only do the Bulls need to find a way to get their All-Star starter some cleaner looks, but Zach LaVine will open up the floor even more if he plays with a greater sense of urgency. The only problem with that is he may not physically be up for it thanks to his banged-up knee. While I guess it could be playoff jitters, there is no doubt the LaVine we’ve seen over the first handful of games has not looked anywhere near 100 percent. His overall explosiveness just isn’t there on a possession-by-possession basis, and the Bulls can only hope that magically changes this afternoon. If they want any chance of pulling off the win, LaVine simply can’t shoot 6-13 with just 15 points.

•   Between an 8:30 pm CT start time on the road and a 12:00 pm CT start time at home, are we sure the NBA schedule-makers weren’t drunk during their meeting?

•   Donovan is essentially right. All star players on both sides got plenty of extra rest due to Friday’s blowout, but I still think that extra rest mostly favors the Bucks. They already possess all of the momentum, and I’d rather have those fresh legs when I know I don’t have the home crowd behind me.

•   Thanks for reminding me Grizzlies: Can the Chicago Bulls please get a dang home whistle this afternoon!?


•   In case you somehow missed it:

•   Some football faces have been making the rounds:

Author: Elias Schuster

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