Tough Weeks Ahead, Celtics Come to Town, Time for a Lineup Change? And Other Bulls Bullets

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Tough Weeks Ahead, Celtics Come to Town, Time for a Lineup Change? And Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Having to endure the stress of both the Bears and Bulls playing tonight can’t be healthy.

  • Classifying any game as a must-win not even two weeks into the season would be silly … but we may look back at that 102-100 loss to the Wizards as a significant early-season blunder. The Bulls’ schedule doesn’t get any easier with the Celtics and 76ers bookending this week. Stealing one of these games could prove pivotal in getting the Bulls back on the right track, as long as they can also take care of business against the tanking Pacers and Spurs during the middle of this week.
  • I knew the Bulls’ start to the year would be challenging, but it feels that much worse now that they’re in the thick of it. The Celtics (x3), 76ers, Nets, Raptors (x2), Pelicans (x2), Nuggets, and Bucks make up 11 of their next 15 games. So while it would be an overreaction to stress out about a 1-2 record – especially after an impressive win over the Heat – the Bulls’ margin for error is too thin to drop games to teams projected by most to finish below them this season.
  • I want to believe the Bulls will hand the Celtics their first loss of the season tonight, but did you see that stinkfest against the Cavaliers? While it’s possible that a blowout loss could provide the kick in the rear that this team needed, playing at your A-game doesn’t even guarantee a win over this Boston team. They have started the year averaging the 4th-most points per game with the highest field goal percentage in the league. They’ve also held their opponents to the 5th-fewest points in the paint per game on the other end. Of course, we’re talking about a very small sample size here, but we also know that this is a sustainable brand of basketball for a team that just went to the NBA Finals.
  • Now, as good as the Celtics are, this is a team that just let the Orlando Magic score 120 points. There are areas to exploit in this matchup, and both Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond will want to take notes. With no Robert Williams on the floor to start the year, there is room to control the paint. Don’t get me wrong, a healthy Al Horford is a stiff defender, but he’s still a tad undersized and no one behind him is a major concern. Boston is currently relying on Noah Vonleh (#BullsLegend) to eat minutes off the bench, while Blake Griffin is also technically there for some small-ball opportunities. The Bulls simply have to win the minutes that either of these two is on the floor.
  • Boston has also started the season as one of the NBA’s worst rebounding teams. Unfortunately, the Bulls haven’t been much better, but this is another area where both Vucevic and Drummond could make a huge difference in the game (especially if they can win on the offensive glass).
  • NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson got the ball rolling on a Patrick Williams benching, and it didn’t take long for CHGO’s Will Gottlieb to agree. Here are my two cents: Do I think the team must bench him tonight? No. It sometimes takes more than three games to build some confidence. But the leash also isn’t as long as it used to be. I’d give him the rest of the week to see if he can finally show signs of life with the first unit. Who knows, maybe a big performance against lesser competition like the Pacers or Spurs can permanently light a fire under his butt. If this week comes and goes without any progress, however, then it will be time to call upon Javonte Green.
  • Having said all of that, if Green is in the lineup tonight, I will not be shocked or upset. His fit with that group is apparent, and my decision to give Williams a little more time is not at all about what Green can provide but more about the potential Williams possesses.
  • Happy Birthday to the big man!
  • The third team is the charm, I guess. Ugh.
  • The Lakers are a straight comedy right now.
  • Speaking of the Lakers, a Westbrook trade remains a possibility this season, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Jae Crowder also continues to get plenty of interest around the league, with one of the Bulls’ Central Division foes expressing interest.
  • I like wins!


Author: Elias Schuster

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