At least the taste of last night’s loss will be out of our mouths soon.
I just can’t make any promises that this new taste will be any better.
- Last night’s game wasn’t one the Bulls could afford to lose. I know that can sound a bit silly just six games into the season, but that’s also the reality of the situation. The East has drastically improved this season and it projects to be a fierce fight over the six months. Not to mention, the Bulls have one of the most difficult starts to the season of any team in the league. Eight of the next nine games will come against playoff-caliber opponents, while the Bulls’ most “winnable” contest will be against a Hornets squad that has started the year averaging the 7th-most points in the league.
- The Bulls were able to stay within the playoff picture last season because of their ability to take care of the teams they were supposed to beat. The fact of the matter is that doing that again this year is even more important, but they clearly aren’t off to a great start after dropping games to both the Wizards and Spurs.
- Don’t get me wrong, the Spurs deserve a tip of the hat for the way they played. As Billy Donovan mentioned in his postgame presser, they hit several impressive shots in the face of the Bulls’ defenders. But you also can’t score 124 points and lose. As well as they may have contested behind the arc at times, the half-court defense proved to be rather atrocious. They allowed the Spurs to shoot 53.5 percent from the field and 67.7 percent at the rim. The Bulls got tripped up on a handful of rotations and repeatedly left lanes open for easy looks in the paint. And the worst thing is they knew what to expect from the Spurs lineup.
- San Antonio has started the year dishing the most assists per game and ranking top-3 in PACE. They may not be the most talented rotation, but they play fast and unselfish basketball. The Bulls had to be on their A-game defensively to keep up with this active team, but they almost looked startled by just how pass-happy they were. This particularly felt true at the worst possible time – the 4th quarter.
- I went back and watched every Spurs bucket from the final frame, and I couldn’t wrap my head around just how easy each point was. First, it was Doug McDermott blowing by Javonte Green for the floater. Then, it was Jakob Poeltl finding Jeremy Sochan for a wide-open dunk on the backdoor cut. A defensive breakdown then led to a wide-open Wesley three. A Poeltl offensive rebound led to Keldon Johnson driving through the Bulls’ defense for an and-one score. Two more wide-open 3-pointers eventually came off quick-trigger ball movement. And Poeltl scored once off the pick-and-roll and once by dribbling right by Andre Drummond. It was pretty much effortless.
- The even more annoying thing is that the Bulls won the turnover battle 21-13, won the offensive rebounding battle 15-8, and won the fastbreak battle 25-10. They played their game pretty effectively, but it just goes to show how small the margin for error remains for this team.
- If we do want to take away any positives, I guess we can look at Drummond and Coby White. The backup big man continues to have an incredibly valuable start to the season, as he scored 17 points with 14 rebounds in just 23 minutes of action. He was a big reason why the Bulls were able to claw their way back into the game after an early double-digit point deficit, and the combination of him and Goran Dragic have given this second unit a real promising identity.
- As for Coby White, we can only hope this is the start of something more consistent. The fourth-year guard carried his weight with Zach LaVine out of the rotation, scoring a much-needed 19 points with 4 assists and 4 rebounds. Overall, he looked arguably the most comfortable we’ve seen him in quite some time as he finished with a +18 on the night. With the uptempo style this bench lineup wants to play, there is no reason we shouldn’t see more of these big nights from the sparkplug scorer.
- The 76ers await. The 2-4 team has started the season on a rocky note, but that doesn’t necessarily make me feel better about the Bulls’ chances to pull off the win. They have quite literally never been able to take down Joel Embiid, and I find it hard to believe they are now ready to do that after the poor half-court defense we saw last night. Now, having said that, the 76ers defense has ranked bottom-half in the league to start the season. There is a good chance that with a rested Zach LaVine on the floor, the Bulls can put up the points needed to get the W (I mean, they can’t score 124 and lose again, right? RIGHT!?).
- Time for a fresh start!
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