I’ve typed my fingers off with the number of comments I’ve had about the Bulls’ lack of shooting, so I’ll keep this opening brief.
The second battle in the Boston-Milwaukee series last night illustrated exactly why/how Chicago failed to take control of practically any game in that series. While the Bulls tried their absolute hardest to kill the Bucks behind the arc (even chucking up a franchise-record 52 threes in the Game 5), they didn’t have the personnel to pull it off. The Celtics, on the other hand, forced the Bucks to show them respect front long-range, as the team drained 20 buckets from deep to pull off a 109-86 victory.
Indeed, Boston outscored Milwaukee an absurd 60 to 9 from 3-point range, which could very well force the Bucks to slightly adjust their protect-the-paint-at-all-cost defense heading into Game 3. Man, wish the Bulls could have done that!
• To be sure, it’s hard to imagine Boston shooting that way again. The Bucks could very well choose not to change anything about their game plan and bank on exactly that. But, regardless, Boston showed they had role players who could step up and knock down open 3-pointers in bunches. Grant Williams hit an absurd six 3’s, while Payton Pritchard added two. The stars – Tatum and Brown – combined for 11 makes. The Bulls learned this year that every possession matters in the postseason, and that obviously includes hitting your open shots. To be able to compete at the next level in this Eastern Conference, they are going to have to find the talent that can do just that.
• I don’t want to ask for more offense from Alex Caruso considering everything he adds on the defensive end, but it sure wouldn’t hurt. Carrying a bigger workload than ever before, he showed strides as a playmaker and averaged a career-high 4.0 assists. However, he still averaged just 7.4 points per game on 39.8 percent shooting from the field during this first season in Chicago. Not to mention, a 40.0 percent mark from downtown in 2020-21 turned into a 33.3 percent effort this season. If he can shoot more efficiently – especially from three – it could provide a big boost to a roster that really struggled when it came to bench scoring. Not to mention, as someone who also spends plenty of time alongside the starters, improving his catch-and-shoot game would only make that lineup more deadly.
• Again, I’m not expecting a ton from Caruso on offense, but there is no question this is another area where he can help the team moving forward. I even wonder if he can ever enter the running for Sixth Man of the Year award with improvements on that side o the ball. The Miami Heat’s Tyler Herro took home to honor on Tuesday thanks to a season where he averaged 20.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists. I know the accolade normally goes to sparkplug scorers, but Caruso basically provides an equally important jolt on the defensive end. Do I ever actually envision him being considered? Probably not, especially since All-Defensive Teams exist, but maybe Caruso presents us with another way to think about that Sixth Man award.
Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro has won the 2021-22 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 3, 2022
• Bleacher Report ranked the top-10 power forwards in the free-agent market this summer and two old friends made the list. Thaddeus Young – who finished the season with the Toronto Raptors – checked in at No. 9, and Otto Porter – who is currently in the second round with the Golden State Warriors – was listed as No. 2. Does a reunion with either tickle your fancy? Unless it was on a veteran minimum deal, I’d keep a generous distance from Porter. He may have been able to play 63 games this season in a surprisingly effective utility role off the bench, but I’m still utterly terrified of his overall health (especially after how much injury trouble the Bulls had this season). As for Young … I could be talked into it.
• Head coach Billy Donovan really looked like he knew how to use Young to the best of his ability. And the Bulls could do a lot worse than having Young in the rotation for reliable defense and interior playmaking. We also know he’s super close to Zach LaVine, and keeping that guy happy sure doesn’t hurt! Perhaps we can talk more about a Young comeback as free agency nears because I do think it’s worth some greater thought. I’m not sure exactly how much interest he will draw in the free-agent market, but the Bulls could have a leg up thanks to some prior relationships.
• I’ve seen a ridiculous thing going around about ESPN reporting LaVine’s interest in a sign-and-trade to the Lakers. I don’t even want to share the item because it’s clearly a fake report from some non-reliable account. However, that hasn’t stopped Laker fans online from running with it and dragging an old video out of the woodworks:
I believe the whole Zach/Lakers thing is in reference to this vid from All-Star in February 2020
Lot has changed since these off the cuff remarks. Wouldn’t put any stock into it.pic.twitter.com/xZqOpe4RHD
— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) May 4, 2022
• I remember this interview like it was yesterday. Not only was it the same time fans expressed their hatred for GarPax live on television, but it was All-Star Weekend when the Bulls were on their way toward winning just 22 games. A ton of players have said they would like to play with LeBron James, so it comes as no surprise that LaVine said as much. But he also made sure to note how unlikely that is to happen.
• Now, is it possible LaVine demands the Bulls send him elsewhere? Of course! We can’t rule that out until he officially re-signs with the Bulls. But using these 12 seconds from a February 2020 interview to justify a Lakers-LaVine rumor ain’t it. If any actual news break about LaVine wanting to head somewhere, we’ll have it written up here.
• This dude is so darn special.
Ja Morant joins LeBron James and Kobe Bryant as the only players with multiple 45-point games in the playoffs before turning 23 years old per @ESPNStatsInfo
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) May 4, 2022
• The Cubs got some good ones.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 4, 2022