Who needs Zach LaVine, amirite!?
Let the record show that I (Elias E. Schuster) am using sarcasm and very much still believe the Chicago Bulls desperately need a healthy Zach LaVine. Thank you.
- If the Chicago Bulls can play that well against the reigning No. 1 seed in the East without their max player, it only has me that much more optimistic about what this core can accomplish in Year 2. But we can’t get ahead of ourselves just yet. LaVine’s situation remains gulp-inducing, especially after head coach Billy Donovan wasn’t able to provide much detail before last night’s game. While it at least appears as if LaVine will be able to suit up in front of home fans on Saturday, how frequently he’ll need to take the night off is a question we simply don’t have the answer to right now.
- If one thing is for sure, back-to-backs likely aren’t on the table. As annoying as that is when we consider how important LaVine is to this team’s present and future, it’s at least a far less concerning decision than taking off the home opener after 10 days of rest. Indeed, I think we all should have anticipated the Bulls to have some kind of load management for LaVine after his offseason knee surgery, and the most obvious time to do that would be during back-to-back sets.
- Unfortunately, the Bulls’ schedule happens to be frontloaded with those matchups, which means we might continue to see very little of LaVine over the next couple of weeks (regardless of whether he’s experiencing current knee problems or not).
- While we’re on the topic of injury trouble, we should keep an eye on Darius Garland over the next 24 hours. The Cavaliers’ All-Star guard suffered an eye injury during Friday’s loss to the Raptors, and it’s left his status for Chicago’s home opener up in the air:
- Is it fair to say that last night we saw the benefits of continuity? Despite the absence of the team’s best player, the Bulls played smart, disciplined, and physical basketball against an organization that has built a brand around doing just that. Not only did they look like a group out to prove their worth, but they looked like a roster that understood how to play off each other’s strengths. The fact of the matter is that last year’s team doesn’t win that game (hence their 0-4 record against Miami), and I big reason for that was their lack of familiarity.
- Indeed, the way this team was able to build momentum throughout the game was incredibly encouraging. Slowly but surely we saw the offensive identity Billy Donovan preached about during training camp come into play, as the Bulls pushed the pace in transition and kept the ball moving from side to side in the halfcourt. While DeMar DeRozan played tremendous basketball, it was the Bulls’ ability to keep the opposing defense on their toes with off-ball movement and quick-trigger passing. Not to mention, their defensive execution was arguably as strong as we have seen it without Lonzo Ball on the floor.
- But, of course, I do need to dedicate at least one bullet point to the greatness of DeMar DeRozan. If you told DeRozan he couldn’t time travel, he would go back in time, ask your mother out, and make sure you were never born. All this man does is shut people up, and he did it again last night with an absurd 37-point performance on 14-22 shooting. For all those who thought there was no way he could replicate last year’s positive impact, think again.
- Say it louder for the people in the back, Ricky!!!
- The Bulls probably still don’t get enough respect for the roster they built. While there is no question that there are areas to be concerned about, it’s not every day that you get three multi-time All-Stars in the starting lineup.
- Nikola Vucevic may not have had the scoring night we hoped to see (15 points on 5-13 shooting), but he played some tremendous basketball last night. The big man finished with 17 rebounds, 3 blocks, and a game-high +16 from the floor. Whether it be connecting the offense through his interior playmaking or shockingly defending the rim in an efficient fashion, Vucevic helped carry this team on both ends. In fact, he completely outplayed DPOY frontrunner Bam Adebayo, who started the night 1-9 from the field and scored just 12 points with 9 boards.
- How can you not like Dalen Terry?
- The Bears do not deserve another primetime game …
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