Scoreboard Check, Round 2 with Lakers, Portland Throws in the Towel, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Scoreboard Check, Round 2 with Lakers, Portland Throws in the Towel, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

What’s better than spoiling LeBron James’ first game back? Spoiling LeBron James’ first and second game back!

  • The Chicago Bulls could really use another victory over the Los Angeles Lakers tonight. While they’re still in a good position to lock in a Play-In Tournament seed, their chance to make one last push up the standings took a hit last night. The Hawks beat the Cavaliers and the Raptors beat the Heat to increase their lead over Chicago to a full game. Meanwhile, the Wizards also won their meeting with the Celtics to shrink the gap between them and the Bulls down to 2.5 games. Every game counts right now, so let’s hope the Bulls can put themselves back in a position to steal the 8th or 9th seed with a win later today.

  • Los Angeles has held the 4th-best defense in the month of March, so we can’t necessarily bank on the Bulls shooting 54.0 percent from the field again tonight. Likewise, Chicago benefited from some unusually strong shooting from downtown with 14 makes. Watching them lose the battle behind the arc a staggering 60-27 against the Clippers reminded us that we can’t at all rely on the Bulls repeating Monday’s performance. What the Bulls can repeat, however, is their dedication to sharing the basketball and scrambling to turn defense into offense.

  • Indeed, the Bulls assisted on 32 of their 47 made baskets on Monday night. Patrick Beverley, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Coby White, and Ayo Dosunmu each finished with at least 4 assists. Prioritizing similar ball movement against this Lakers’ defense should be arguably the No. 1 priority tonight. The second thing on the to-do list should be to keep up the defensive intensity. The Bulls turned 18 Lakers turnovers into 34 points. Repeating exactly that kind of success may not be realistic, but this should still be a category the Bulls win. LA has the 8th-highest TOV% this month, and the Bulls are 9th on the year in points off turnovers per game.

  • Andre Drummond announced on Tuesday that he would take a break from all social media and change his cell phone number. The Bulls’ big man said he wanted to focus more on his mental health and proceeded to remind everyone how important it is to do the same when needed. I don’t know if he’s going through anything in particular, but I’m wishing Drummond the best! I’m also glad to see him share these words publicly. It can be huge for someone with his platform to say that it’s okay to speak about and prioritize your mental health. The Bulls are lucky to have guys like him and DeRozan (who has also been a massive mental health advocate for the NBA) as part of their organization.

  • The Portland Trail Blazers have officially thrown in the towel. According to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report, the organization has opted to shut down superstar Damian Lillard for the remainder of the season. Lillard has already missed the team’s last three games – including the Bulls’ dominant 28-point victory on March 24 – and will now miss the Blazers’ final seven games.

  • Currently 4.5 games out of the 10 seeds and a Play-In Tournament picture, the decision makes all the sense in the world. The Trail Blazers would need some tremendous luck to put themselves in a position to compete past April 9. Not to mention, making the playoffs would mean losing their first-round pick to the Chicago Bulls. By committing to the tank for the final week and a half, there is now a real possibility they can surpass the Magic and lock in the NBA’s 5th-best odds for a top-4 pick.
  • For a Bulls front office that has no first-rounder to play with in the 2023 NBA Draft, this is a minor bummer. However, there is still a world where the Blazers opt to give the Bulls a pick sooner than later to open up more future flexibility. We talked about that in a post at the trade deadline here, as well as a little in the post below:

  • I wrote some words on LaVine’s recent offensive explosion. He’s playing some of the best basketball of his career right now, and his stats around the rim are absurd.

  • The Wizards are even more committed to being mediocre than the Bulls …

  • A fun read by KC.

  • I’m so excited about this addition.

  • Youth movement!

Author: Elias Schuster

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