A Real Test for the Defense, Vucevic Comments on Fiery Exchange, Bulls Surprise Caruso, and Other Bulls Bullets

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A Real Test for the Defense, Vucevic Comments on Fiery Exchange, Bulls Surprise Caruso, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Good news: The Chicago Bulls have beaten Kevin Durant twice this season despite him combining for 76 points in those two contests.

Bad news: Devin Booker blew the doors off the Bulls with 51 points in a 132-113 victory in their meeting back in November.

  • Will the Bulls be able to, once again, put together a strong showing against one of the league’s top teams … or will they look severely outmatched? I know we have less than 20 games left this season, but I honestly have no clue what to expect. The only consistent thing about the Bulls has been their inconsistency, so somehow pulling off the victory tonight isn’t out of the question.
  • I’m having a very hard time believing that this Bulls’ defense is legit. Over the last 15 games, they have ranked 2nd in the NBA in defensive efficiency, which has helped boost their overall net rating to top-6. While I trust Alex Caruso, Patrick Beverley, and Patrick Williams (he’s had a very underrated year defensively) to keep things stable on this side of the ball, I simply can’t trust this team as a whole to continue this kind of play. I guess tonight’s battle against two of the finest pure scorers will be a good litmus test!

  • Besides Booker and Durant, the Bulls will want to keep a close eye on Deandre Ayton tonight. The former No. 1-overall pick completely destroyed Chicago in their one meeting this year, shooting 11-17 from the field for 30 points and 14 rebounds. One of the biggest holes for this Bulls’ D is containing the roll man, and Ayton is averaging the third-most possessions as such this season. I fully expect Phoenix to come out attacking the Bulls in the pick-and-roll, so Nikola Vucevic better be ready!
  • Speaking of which, in the wake of Vucevic’s feisty on-court encounter with Patrick Beverley during Wednesday’s loss, one report claimed the big man is currently frustrated behind the scenes. We wrote a little bit more about that here

  • As I said in the post, I’m not sure how much weight we should put into this report. Teammates tend to get into disagreements, and I don’t think Vucevic is the type to hold onto something like this. In fact, he already downplayed the incident and implied that the two worked things out:

“People always make a big deal out of when players argue on the court. That’s part of the game. We’re competitors. We’re trying to make the right play. Sometimes you don’t agree on the same thing in the moment. Talk it out and it’s over with,” Vucevic told NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson.

  • My bigger concern with little scuffles like this is the idea of them building up. While I don’t think they’re at all serious, multiple occurrences can certainly play a role in Vucevic’s overall happiness as free agency approaches. By not finding him a new home at the trade deadline, re-signing him automatically became their best option. The last thing you want to do is lose him for nothing, but keeping him in-house could become that much harder if the Bulls don’t finish the year in at least a somewhat competent manner.
  • Anyway, Vucevic talked more about the Beverley incident with Johnson. You can read all about that in the article below:

  • Another recommended reading: The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry wrote a great piece about Patrick Williams’ growing confidence and the impact DeMar DeRozan has had on him this year. Let’s remember, Williams is only 21 years old with 151 career games under his belt. There is a lot of time left for him to grow, and he’s made some truly encouraging strides this season. Give that post a read here.
  • The Chicago Bulls had a fun surprise for their top defender earlier this week. Alex Caruso was honored with the NBA’s Community Assist award for the month of January, so they brought the whole team into the film room to celebrate. You just love to see stuff like this …

  • More on why Caruso is being honored in here

  • #TheReturn

  • So. Many. Roster. Changes.

  • Lol this photo … Poles means business!

Author: Elias Schuster

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