The Bulls Are the Least Clutch Team in the NBA (and Other Bulls Bullets)

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The Bulls Are the Least Clutch Team in the NBA (and Other Bulls Bullets)

Chicago Bulls

Shoutout to my cuddly pups. She is about the only thing that keeps me sane while sitting in my apartment all day writing about this depressing Bulls team.

Extra treats today for Winnie!

  • If the Chicago Bulls walked into the 4th quarter of a game down more than two scores last season, I thought they had it in the bag. Not only was DeMar DeRozan playing like the most clutch player in the league, but the team as a whole finished the season with the sixth-best net rating in the final frame. While they were a new group, they seemingly understood how to close out games with the right mix of energy and execution. Fast forward to today, however, and things couldn’t be further from the truth.
  • Despite DeRozan sitting fourth in 4th quarter scoring, the Bulls have been an utter embarrassment in crunch-time situations this year. The team’s 3-11 record in clutch games so far (contests within 5 points with five minutes remaining) is comfortably the worst mark in the NBA. Yes, that means tanking teams like the Hornets and Magic have technically been better than the veteran Bulls at closing out games.
  • We need to look no further than last night’s missed opportunity as yet another painful example of the Bulls’ inability to operate down the stretch. While they were able to force OT with a couple of crucial defensive stops (thanks to Patrick Williams), New York went on to outscore Chicago 11-3 in that extra period despite having RJ Barrett foul out. After DeMar DeRozan scored the team’s only field goal of OT, this is what the Bulls did:

– LaVine traveled
– Caruso fouled Brunson (121-119)
– DeRozan missed a midrange jumper
– Bulls forced a turnover
– Vucevic missed corner 3
– Bulls fouled Randle (122-119)
– Vucevic’s post-up attempt was blocked
– Bulls allowed an OREB that led to a Grimes 3 (125-119)
– Williams missed his own 3
– Brunson broke Caruso’s ankles for a 3 (128-119)

  • Woof. The post-up attempt from Vooch on an elite shot-blocker in Mitchell Robinson and the last-second mid-range heave from DeRozan felt especially frustrating. Not to mention, the fact that Zach LaVine couldn’t contribute a single field goal attempt over that stretch is just brutal. Again, this is a team that finished 25-16 in clutch games last year, which happened to be the third-best record in the entire league. The fact that there has been this significant a drop-off is extremely disturbing, especially when we consider that the whole point of continuity is to give yourself an advantage
  • Two other extremely annoying things about last night’s game: (1) The Knicks came into the night as the NBA’s worst 3-point shooting team. Of course, that means they walked out of the United Center with their second-most 3-point makes of the season on 52.9 percent shooting. (2) The Bulls shot 54.8 percent from the field against what has been the best defense in the league this month and lost. When crap like this is happening, you know things are seriously broken.
  • If the Bulls truly believe Lonzo Ball can come back and fix everything, they are tragically mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, Ball fills glaring holes on this roster. Not only is he an amazing 3-point shooter, but he’s the very player who ensures that this offense runs in a way that best suits the trio of scorers. With that said, the sheer fact that his availability is this important to the team’s success speaks to how poorly constructed this roster is. He shouldn’t be the Bulls’ only transition playmaker, 3-point shooter, and high-IQ decision-maker. Plus, putting this much weight on the shoulders of someone who hasn’t stayed healthy in years is straight-up reckless.
  • The Bulls can’t work under the assumption that Ball will come back this season, nor under the assumption that he’ll ever come back the same. The longer they do that, the deeper they dig themselves into a hole.

  • At least Alex Caruso did this!

  • We’ll just forget he also did this …

  • Here’s a little feel-good story on the opposite of a feel-good day:

  • That face looks about right.

  • He probably would’ve done this like 10 times against the Bulls.

  • Hoping the rookies can finish this season strong.

  • Can we trust any front office in Chicago?



Author: Elias Schuster

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