Can the Bulls Snap the Bucks’ Streak? Dealing With Haliburton, A Look at the Passing Stats, and Other Bulls Bullets
The Chicago Bulls will have another chance to play streak-busters later this week.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ OT win over the Boston Celtics last night gave them their 11th-straight victory. Giannis and Co.’s next game will tip off on Thursday night at the United Center, giving them a chance to join just four other teams in NBA history who have taken a 12-game winning streak into the All-Star break.
- The Bulls were able to spoil the Brooklyn Nets’ 12-game winning streak a little over one month ago. They’ve also beaten the Bucks twice this season thanks to two of their best all-around performances of the year. I’d be lying if I said I believe this dejected post-deadline team with the NBA’s 24th-ranked offense can move that number to three, but I guess it would be the ultimate Bulls thing to do, right?
- Of course, before we can even think about another victory over Milwaukee, we must first watch Chicago try to hang with a frisky Indiana team. The first of this back-to-back set will start against the Pacers tonight at 6:00 p.m. CT. All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton did not compete for the last time these two matched up on Jan. 24, but he did make his triumphant return seven games ago. Since rejoining the starting lineup, Haliburton is averaging 18.7 points, 9.4 assists, and 2.0 steals per game. He’s also shooting 48.5 from the field and 39.6 percent from downtown. The Bulls’ defense has continued to play surprisingly well in recent weeks, but managing Haliburton’s well-rounded game will be tough if Alex Caruso can’t return to the floor.
- Even with Haliburton back in the mix, the Pacers are in the thick of a 1-6 stretch. They hold the 4th-worst net rating in the league over these past seven contests, ranking dead last in REB% and bottom-10 in effective field goal percentage, per NBA Stats. Having said that, this group was on a seven-game losing streak the last time they faced Chicago and still completely took control of the game with a 36-23 4th quarter effort. They are an athletic young team that isn’t afraid to get physical and plays extremely unselfish basketball. If the Bulls continue to provide the kind of lackluster energy we’ve seen over the past several 4th quarters, I have little doubt that this will be another embarrassing loss.
- When you think about the Pacers, you think about sharing the basketball. While they may still very well be a work in progress, they average the 4th-highest AST% in the NBA and the second-most potential assists per game, per NBA Stats. They’re always looking to make the extra pass, and I feel it makes head coach Billy Donovan really freakin’ jealous.
- All season long, ball movement has clearly been a priority for this Bulls team. The goal has been to avoid ISO ball as much as possible, especially in late-game situations. But the fact of the matter is that they don’t have the personnel to consistently perform at the level this coaching staff wants. Not only are they absent a true point guard, but a guy like DeRozan is one of the most efficient ISO scorers in the NBA. He’s almost always going to opt for that. The Bulls have tried to embrace this style, averaging the 7th-most passes per game. But this has only led to dishing the 21st-most assists each night.
- When we look at the other six teams that rank ahead of the Bulls in passes per game, they all sit *at least* top-11 in nightly assists. In other words, their passing seems to have an actual purpose, whereas the Bulls’ passing still isn’t setting up the kind of shots they want.
- Anyway, the Bulls will be without one of their primary scorers tonight. DeMar DeRozan is dealing with a thigh strain and didn’t even make the trip to Indiana. His status for Thursday’s final game before the All-Star break is also up in the air. Honestly, I’m just hoping he can suit up for the All-Star Game on Sunday. If he misses both of these next two games … so be it.
- I liked the introduction of this format last year. The Skills Challenge was a major bore before that.
- The Bulls’ recent 3-point shooting stretch is so bad that we haven’t seen anything like it in five years.
- HBD DJJ! Get well soon!
- Let’s make a deal!
- Good question.