I just don’t understand this team.
After dropping four straight – most recently, a home loss to the rebuilding Orlando Magic – the Chicago Bulls blowout the NBA’s hottest unit with relative ease.
With the top offense in the league, Boston was in the middle of a nine-game winning streak. They were led by an early MVP candidate in Jayson Tatum and should have been in a prime position to take down a Bulls squad in the thick of a downward spiral.
Instead — because of course — the Bulls bounced back ferociously and can now claim two of their seven wins against the reigning Eastern Conference champions. As frustrating as a 7-10 start may be, it’s hard not to be at least the tiniest bit encouraged by that fact.
- The first bullet belongs to Zach LaVine. One game after a 1-14 performance and dramatic late-game benching, the Chicago Bulls’ max player had something to prove. While he may not have completed a one-handed 360 dunk (the other hand would have been giving Billy Donovan the middle finger) to cap off a 50-point game, he did put together quite an impressive all-around performance.
- I’d go as far as to say it was the tone that he set on both ends of the floor that allowed the Bulls to extend the lead as far as they did. He looked locked in on defense throughout most of the game, and he helped ensure that his team pushed the pace in transition for some easy scores. You could tell his entire first half was far more about helping his teammates find a rhythm than finding the bottom of the net himself, which is a job that often comes with his kind of paycheck.
- Indeed, he may have only finished the night 8-20 from the field, but he did shoot 5-10 from downtown and finish with a +14 on the night. It was a reminder of the good that he can do even on an off-shooting night, which I have to imagine is something he hopes head coach Billy Donovan keeps in mind.
“It’s probably not going to show up in the stat sheet, but he generated a lot of open shots for our guys,” Billy Donovan said after the game. “His unselfishness on the break early in the first quarter where he generated a lot of shots for Ayo, he got a couple guys corners 3s, he’s unselfish from that standpoint … His fingerprints were all over the game in a lot of different ways.”
- Speaking of setting up teammates, Nikola Vucevic played almost an equally as important role in helping this Bulls team right the ship. While he may have only added 12 points to the scoreboard, it did come on an extremely efficient 6-7 shooting performance. And, when he wasn’t attacking mismatches, he was moving the ball around the horn and kicking out to open shooters. Vucevic finished with a team-high 6 assists on the night to go along with 13 rebounds.
- The Bulls showed everyone on Monday night the team they can be. Built around three extremely gifted offensive players, they can slice and dice opposing defenses with quick decision-making and unselfish ball movement. Sure, it also doesn’t hurt when you knock down your second-most 3s of the season (14), but this game was won by playing smart and active basketball. That should be something the Bulls can do every night
- To beat a team as good as Boston, role players have to step up, and we saw just that across the board. All starters cracked double figures, which included a 17-points performance from Patrick Williams and a 10-point showing from Ayo Dosunmu. Meanwhile, Alex Caruso added his own 10 points to go along with 4 steals, and Andre Drummond gobbled up 12 rebounds in 13 minutes. The Bulls have legitimately solid depth (especially when compared to last season), but I think the success of these players all connects back to how the “Big 3” starts the game. LaVine, Vucevic, and DeRozan have to prioritize getting these guys involved. The more they make the defense pay attention to what their teammates are doing, the more the floor opens up for them to extend leads.
- I will get so much use out of this Dalen Terry reaction.
- The Chicago Bulls answer a bunch of silly questions in the NBA video below. I’m a sucker for these kinds of things, to be honest. I just like how it gives us a closer look into each guy’s personality.
- You’re welcome Sacramento (who the Bulls play on Dec. 4).
- At least it’s not as bad as it looked.
- I like all of these names!