The Start of a Brutal Stretch, Green Questionable, Caruso's Trade Value, and Other Bulls Bullets

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The Start of a Brutal Stretch, Green Questionable, Caruso’s Trade Value, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Today marks the start of arguably the Bulls’ toughest five-game stretch left this season.

1/2 – vs. Cavs
1/4 – vs. Nets
1/6 – vs. 76ers
1/7 – vs. Jazz

Throw in a game next Monday against the Boston Celtics, and this is the kind of jam-packed slate that could reverse any of the good that winning five of the last seven has done for this team.

Now, at the same time, the Bulls have shockingly performed better against above .500 teams than the alternative. So perhaps this is actually a good thing for a recently successful Bulls team? I don’t know. This group is just too darn confusing.

  • If the refs did their job on Saturday night, it’s more likely than not that the Chicago Bulls walk off the court with another victory. According to the league’s L2M yesterday, DeMar DeRozan was fouled on his game-winning attempts and should have been awarded two free throws.

  • But, fine, we all know the Bulls could have done more to ensure that a foul call didn’t decide the game, especially on the glass. As I mentioned in yesterday’s bullets, the Bulls can’t lose the OREB battle 15-9 and expect to win. This team is going to have to provide a far more cohesive performance in the rebounding department tonight, particularly with the return of big man Evan Mobley a possibility. Likewise, the 3-point difference proved to be a back-breaker yet again. The Cavs scored 18 more points behind the arc this weekend, making wins for the Bulls in the turnover and fastbreak department obsolete.
  • If the Bulls do want to make sure they carry something over from Saturday’s game, it will surely be their defensive intensity down the stretch. Chicago held Cleveland to just 37.5 shooting from the field in the 4th quarter and tied their season-high with 20 forced turnovers. Everyone looked locked in on that end of the floor in the second half, with the backcourt pairing of Ayo Dosunmu and Alex Caruso setting the tone. I fully expect to see Billy Donovan give those two more minutes together moving forward.
  • Mobley looks like he could be in a position to return tonight, but the Bulls should dodge All-Star guard Darius Garland for the third time this season.

  • Meanwhile, Javonte Green is back on the injury report with a “questionable” designation. The versatile forward is apparently still experiencing problems with his right knee (does anyone on this team have a good knee?). Green reminded all of us just how important his two-way energy can be when he checked into Saturday’s game. He scored 12 points in just 16 minutes of action, lighting the spark that initially got the Bulls back into the game. Not having his athleticism to give this lumbering frontcourt some more trouble tonight could spell … well … trouble.
  • The Ringer’s Michael Pina wrote up a bunch of 2023 predictions, and he included one that saw Alex Caruso sent elsewhere for a first-round pick. Look, I can’t deny that dealing Caruso would make a lot of sense for a tanking Bulls team, but the Bulls aren’t tanking (yet). I still don’t see a world where this is the path forward. If they do embrace any sort of change mid-season, I expect it to still be with short-term winning in mind. So while I could see them listening to packages on Nikola Vucevic and/or even DeMar DeRozan, Caruso feels like the kind of complementary talent that would still hold a place in whatever re-invented vision this front office holds.
  • Having said all of that, I do want to make clear that I believe Caruso has a ton of trade value and it’s exactly because of his ability to fit into almost any situation. The Bulls could likely get something truly valuable for him. However, as long as winning remains on this front office’s mind, they probably view what Caruso brings to the court as far more valuable than whatever draft capital a team offers in return.
  • A lot more buckets ahead for the second-year guard.

  • ICYMI: I picked some numbers that best describe the Bulls’ chaotic 2022.

  • Yeah … that was ugly.

  • Come to Cubes.

Author: Elias Schuster

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