The Tired Mavs, Can the Bulls' "Big 3" Do it Again? Zion's Dunk, and Other Bulls Bullets

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The Tired Mavs, Can the Bulls’ “Big 3” Do it Again? Zion’s Dunk, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

If you haven’t heard the news yet, well-respected sports journalist Grant Wahl tragically passed away while covering the World Cup in Qatar.

One of the best soccer writers in the world, Wahl has made an impact across the sports world through his storytelling ability over the years. Sports Illustrated put together some of his most renowned work in the link below, and I encouraged everyone to give it a read when they have the time.

RIP, Grant.

  • The Chicago Bulls will tip off yet another back-to-back set tonight at the United Center. Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks will walk onto the court with a 13-12 record after winning three of their last four games. The one loss came in last night’s 106-105 slugfest with the Milwaukee Bucks, which also happened to take place on Dallas’ home floor. This meant that the Mavs didn’t end up landing in Chicago until well after 2 a.m., and Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News said they didn’t arrive at the hotel until 3:44 in the morning.
  • While you can never underestimate the power of Luka Magic, there is no question that the Bulls should enter this game with a slight advantage. Not only will the Mavs be playing on a pretty dreadful night of sleep, but they’re also fresh off a hard-fought and emotional loss to Milwaukee. Doncic clocked 36mins with 33 points, and his chance to win the game in the final seconds was blown up due to some frustrating miscommunication.
  • Head coach Jason Kidd certainly didn’t sound happy about the NBA’s scheduling either. I’m really hoping this mix of team-wide irritation and tired legs can help push things in the Bulls’ favor.
  • Don’t worry, though, the NBA wouldn’t want the Bulls’ schedule luck last for long! Tomorrow’s game against the Atlanta Hawks is on the road, which means the Bulls are in store for their own late night as they prepare for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off on Sunday. So taking full advantage of tonight’s opportunity could be crucial, and one way to do just that is with another strong performance from their “Big 3.”
  • Indeed, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic are coming off easily their best cumulative effort of the year. The team’s three All-Stars combined for 77 points, 25 rebounds, and 12 assists on 51.7 percent. What was most encouraging was the fact that each displayed a clear understanding of how to play to each other’s strengths down the stretch. LaVine was fed the ball when he had the hot hand and sank three huge 3s in the 4th quarter, the floor was spaced for DeRozan to feast on some late-game ISOs, and Vucevic was prepared to attack the mismatch for the go-ahead post-up.
  • That Vucevic bucket, in particular, felt extremely encouraging. The instant Vucevic passed out of that obvious advantage in the post, LaVine recognized the opportunity and threw it back into his hands. It may have seemed simple, but it was the kind of unselfish and quick decision-making that this offense wants to be built around.

“It just shows the trust he puts in his teammates and me on that specific play,” Vucevic told Sam Smith of Bulls dot com. “It’s also something we’ve talked about a lot when I’m trying to post and he’s the next guy. A lot of times if I can get (the ball) out and he doesn’t feel he has the shot, we’ll re-post because a lot of times my guy will relax once I kick it out. It’s an opportunity for me to get deeper. Just shows the kind of guy he is. It was a good play for us and I was able to make the shot and get us a big bucket.”

  • If the Bulls want to make the most of this beneficial schedule to end the year, the “Big 3” will have to turn Wednesday night’s performance into a trend. This group is only going to go as far as that trio can take them, and DeRozan made it clear that has been the message behind closed doors:

“That’s definitely been a conversation as of late, and our teammates have been encouraging us to do that, as well,” DeRozan said after the game. “They’ve kind of been on us, just kind of telling us that it’s on us three to carry this thing and they’re going to follow behind us. Tonight we tried to be assertive and prove that point, and we played well.”

  • ICYMI: The Knicks have their eye on LaVine …
  • Zion Williamson did a 360 dunk in the final seconds of a 9-point win. Thoughts?
  • I know I complained a few weeks back about Bennedict Mathurin’s decision to steal the ball from Dalen Terry and score in the final seconds, but I view this one a bit differently. As Williamson explained after the game, this is the very team that bounced the Pelicans from the playoffs last season. New Orleans is trying to make a statement that they’re on their way up the Western Conference ladder, and this highlight play in front of a home crowd is a great way to do just that. Mathurin did it for a losing team on the road. Not the same effect.
  • That Kings loss isn’t looking too bad right now.
  • Don’t mind if I do!
  • This makes me want to cry.

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Author: Elias Schuster

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