Raptors Again, Struggling With the Double Team, Contextualizing Caruso's Struggles, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Raptors Again, Struggling With the Double Team, Contextualizing Caruso’s Struggles, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Can these men please get some rest!? Yeesh.

  • Dropping a game to the Toronto Raptors isn’t going to look like an eyesore on the game log. They’ve long been an incredibly well-run team and hard-nosed opponent capable of beating almost any squad on any given night. Dig a bit deeper into the specifics, however, and it’s hard not to be annoyed by the loss. Despite holding Toronto to just 42.7 percent shooting from the field, the Bulls found themselves playing catch-up almost all night due to turnovers and missed rebounds. The Raptors scored 11 more points than the Bulls off TOVs and also won the OREB battle 23-15.
  • Don’t get me wrong, the Raptors’ length and physicality forced those turnovers and gobbled those 2nd chance points. But the Bulls also have to play far more carefully on both ends. Make fewer bad passes and snatch a few more defensive rebounds, and there is a very good chance they walk out of that game with the win. It’s that simple.
  • The Raptors were relentlessly double-teaming DeMar DeRozan last night, and the Bulls couldn’t have looked more ill-equipped to handle it early on. While the All-Star was still able to score 20 points, he only did it on 9 shots and still turned the ball over a game-high five times. The hope is that Zach LaVine can return to the lineup tonight and either force Toronto out of the double or help his teammates take better advantage of it. Regardless, though, the expectation is that LaVine will continue to miss games due to load management moving forward, and the Raptors will not be the last team to try to take DeRozan out of the game. So learning how to better handle the double team is a must for this group.
  • See, in theory, DeRozan is absolutely right. The problem is turning the ball over and missing those open shots!
  • One big reason a team would feel comfortable double-teaming DeRozan is because they don’t believe his teammates could make them pay for it. While the Bulls faired decently well behind the 3-point line with a 13-36 performance last night, we all know they lack truly reliable downtown threats. Until they can prove that they can sink their wide-open looks at a high clip, teams will likely not hesitate to blitz DeRozan. According to NBA Stats, the Bulls have actually taken the most “wide-open” 3s (defender 6+ feet away) in the NBA thus far, yet they are knocking them down at just the 19th-best rate this season.
  • Speaking of missed 3s, Alex Caruso has been a liability at times on the offensive end. He’s now shooting just 30.0 percent from behind the arc to start the season, and he’s also averaging a career-high 1.8 turnovers per game. Considering he’s a gifted defender who also racked up 11 points and 11 assists in last night’s loss, it’s hard to get on his case too much. But the Bulls need guys to hit open shots, and the fact of the matter is that he’s missed some big ones over the past couple of games.
  • Victories over the Nets and Hornets gave the Bulls a slight push up The Athletic’s most recent power rankings. The team now ranks 15th in the NBA and one spot away from entering the “Playoff Teams” tier. All things considered, I actually think this is the appropriate placement for them right now. While they might be 5-6, they’ve also had one of the toughest schedules to begin the season. So, yeah, I think saying their league average, for now, feels about right.
  • NBA GAMES GALORE! With no games set for Tuesday, the league is gifting us with 15 free contests on the NBA app. What a beautiful sight!
  • Bruh.
  • Yeah, this was unreal.
  • Context is important!

Author: Elias Schuster

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