They Are Who We Thought They Were (and Other Bulls Bullets)

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They Are Who We Thought They Were (and Other Bulls Bullets)

Chicago Bulls

I can only blame myself.

While I at least entered this week cautiously optimistic as opposed to full-blown optimistic, I still fear that I’ll regret that choice. I let this recent 11-6 stretch instill too much hope in my heart. How could I cast aside all those other horrendous losses earlier in the season? Why did I believe things had permanently changed?

In the wise words of the late former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green: “They are who we thought they were, and we let them off the hook.”

  • I should have stuck to the words I wrote back in December. After the Bulls let the Minnesota Timberwolves score 150 without Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert on the floor, they showed us their true colors. Should they be commended for playing better basketball after that stretch? Sure. But the truth is the Bulls team that let that debacle happen doesn’t just disappear in a few weeks. Last night’s blown 21-point lead to a Pacers squad on a seven-game losing streak proves just that.

The fact of the matter is that something needs to change, and until that happens we can’t expect anything more than what we’ve seen the past few games. In other words, this version of the Bulls is cooked. The notion that they can turn things around while clutching onto “continuity” is practically unfathomable. And I’m going to move forward under the assumption that this is a failed season until something more is done.

  • I know this may sound immediately contradictory, but I still do think the Bulls can rise up the East ranks. There is still a very real chance they finish this week 3-1 and use yet another light slate next week to get themselves back over .500. Even if that happens, though, that doesn’t cancel out the words I wrote above. Anything short of a competitive first-round playoff series quantifies as a failed season, in my opinion. And remember that Arturas Karnisovas said the same thing this summer. They’re not on track to meet that goal, which means the cries for at least some sort of action remain completely justified.
  • Speaking of which, if the Bulls want to make moves at this deadline, they’re going to have to do it without some limited flexibility …

  • Look, I get that losing some bad games happens to every team in the NBA. I also get that the likelihood of this happening skyrockets on the backend of a back-to-back. But it’s the way in which the Bulls crumbled last night that is so darn agonizing. They shot 55.0 percent in the first half and held the Pacers to just 32.7 percent shooting. They were blowing up the zone, sharing the basketball, and rotating beautifully on the defensive end. For two quarters, the Bulls put on an absolute clinic … but then they folded.
  • Time and again this team has let overconfidence defeat them. It was more than obvious that the Pacers were going to come out firing. Not only were there still two whole quarters left, but every team in the NBA is capable of going on a run. Billy Donovan said after the game that the team even spoke about this in the locker room at halftime, so how the heck do they look so unprepared!?

  • To be clear, it wasn’t that the Bulls weren’t playing “hard” in the second half. The Pacers made the game physical and the Bulls were able to fight off their first big run. But any semblance of execution and discipline went out the window. They turned the ball over nine times (six times in the 4th quarter) and allowed Indiana to shoot 53.5 percent from the field in the second half. The defense repeatedly got blown by at the point of attack, while the Bulls let the Pacers swat their lazy shots seven times. It was simply another example of this team – despite having a clear advantage in the experience and talent department – looking caught off guard and outworked.
  • When you’re halfway through the season and your head coach is saying things like this … you got a problem:

“It’s a multitude of things where we look overwhelmed when the intensity level goes (up),” Donovan told Bulls dot com. “We’ve got to be able to respond better to that. They were really, really aggressive. We had a really hard time handling the basketball, passing it, even just getting into offense. When we did do a pretty good job defensively, we gave up so many second chance opportunities where they just kind of outworked us, got to loose balls, got the hustle plays. The initial pressure got us back on our heels.”

  • Andre Drummond loves to keep us on our toes!

  • Hey, that’s fun!

  • Looking like a very solid pick!

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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.