A Sense of Urgency, Beverley Makes Immediate Impact, More of This LaVine, and Other Bulls Bullets

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A Sense of Urgency, Beverley Makes Immediate Impact, More of This LaVine, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Let’s set the record straight: I would have preferred the Bulls did the opposite of what they did. While I understand the odds were never going to be completely in their favor, Chicago was in a prime position to significantly increase their chances of landing a top 4 pick in the upcoming 2023 NBA Draft.

Would it have been annoying if they sold at the deadline only to lose the No. 5 pick to the Orlando Magic? Absolutely. But at least they would have gotten their young players some important developmental minutes and cashed in on some of their best assets.

Instead, the Bulls held onto hope. They have pressed full speed ahead with a playoff pursuit, hoping to secure a Play-In Tournament spot and fight their way into a first-round series. Again, I might not agree with it, but all I can do now is evaluate that decision they made.

To their credit … the early returns were great.

  • One game isn’t going to trick me into a false sense of security. The Bulls’ schedule may not look the most daunting, but they still need to prove that they can consistently take care of below-average teams. This will start over the next two games when they play the two teams that sit ahead of them in the standings. If they can manage to turn this into a little win streak, then maybe … MAYBE … I can begin to let a little hope in.
  • Having said all of that, last night’s win is as good as the Bulls have looked in weeks. Sure, they got some help from an ice-cold Brooklyn Nets offense, but their defense also surely contributed to that 37.0 percent shooting effort. The addition of Patrick Beverley immediately made sense. He finished the night with 8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and only one turnover. It may not have been the most eye-popping box score, but it was the kind of well-rounded and hard-nosed performance the Bulls hope to see him provide consistently.

  • We’ve seen this Bulls team succeed with two high-level perimeter defenders alongside their All-Star scorers, and I think that’s exactly why Billy Donovan opted to throw Beverley into the starting lineup from the jump. The Caruso-Beverley pairing will never be the Caruso-Lonzo pairing, but we did see shades of what last year’s healthy Bulls brought to the table. The Bulls outscored the Nets 11-0 in the fastbreak and 62-22 in the paint. They repeatedly got downhill in transition and looked like the far more athletic team. Beverley wasn’t the lone reason for that, but there is no question his presence helped remind this team what they are capable of.

“Pat’s a really really terrific defender, as is Alex, I thought the communication out there was really good. I thought that was the key … Pat was great,” Billy Donovan said after the game. “But I thought the group that started the game got off to a really good start.”

  • Beverley may not be the more traditional facilitator that this team needs (I mean, to be fair, Lonzo Ball also isn’t when we consider his half-court playmaking), but he does provide a helpful feel for the game. This is a Bulls roster that has really struggled with reading the game script and feeding the hot hand. Having someone out there other than Caruso who can bark out orders and remind everyone to keep their foot on the gas is important.

“He’s just got a really good feel as a veteran guy what’s going on from that position. He can tell whose got a shot, whose got it going, what are they doing defensively … he knows how to manage the game well,” Donovan said.

  • Can this be the Zach LaVine we get for the rest of the season, please? The Bulls’ max player was a big part of setting the tone for this group last night. He immediately came out with a sense of urgency, not hesitating to get into his offense and eventually scoring 32 points on just 12 made shots (oh, and only 1 TOV!). His efficiency and ability to score at all three levels are why he made back-to-back All-Star Games coming into this year. It’s also why he earned the paycheck he did. If he can keep this up over these final 22 games, those offseason rumors about his Bulls future will likely disappear.

  • DeMar DeRozan said it best, the Bulls have to treat every game like it’s a Game 7.

  • I will not be shocked if it comes out that Billy Donovan took a shirtless victory lap around the United Center after last night’s game. The fact he immediately threw Beverley into the starting lineup was gutsy. But, hey, it worked to the tune of a 44-points victory, so I expect to see him ride with this group for the next several games. I would be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t a bit irked by the Patrick Williams benching. If he remains an important part of the future, I would like for him to continue eating minutes with the starters. The same could possibly be said about Ayo Dosunmu, who I know has struggled at times this year as the table-setter.
  • The good news is that there is still plenty of room for developmental minutes in the second unit. The White-Dosunmu-Williams lineup off the bench provided a nice youthful spark, and it opened up even more room for Williams to take control of the offense. He finished the night with 17 points (8 FTAs!), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. I’m excited to see if this new spot in the rotation can help him turn nights like these into a more regular occurrence.

  • I’m sure 10-year-old Pat Bev was freaking out …

  • This being his first basket makes so much sense lol

Author: Elias Schuster

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