Missed Opportunities Galore, DeMar Goes Cold, the Play-In Awaits, and Other Bulls Bullets
Like most dogs, mine become a puddle of sadness whenever I have to leave for a day. While I think Winnie is smart enough to know I’ll always come back, I don’t necessarily think she’s smart enough to assume that I’ll ever have to leave again when I do come back.
Especially when a handful of weeks go by without me having to dip for any extended period of time, there is no question she falls into a false sense of security. She’s thinking, ‘bro, this is the best! You and I are taking on the world together and nothing can come between us!”
Then, as I will today, I’ll leave for a night again. She’ll still have my lovely significant other by her side, but I know for a fact she’ll be thinking, “mom, can you believe this SOB? He really did this sh*t to me again! Who does he think he is!”
I can now get where she’s coming from after watching the Chicago Bulls over the past two games. For about a month, they were hanging out right by my side. They fed me treats and rubbed my tummy until I forget about any of the sadness they previously brought me. Then, they left again. And, unlike Winnie, I’m not sure they’ll ever come back.
- Well, that was fun while it lasted! The Chicago Bulls’ loss to the Milwaukee Bucks was about as embarrassing as their loss the night before. While Atlanta was missing both Trae Young and De’Andre Hunter, the Bucks were missing even more rotation players. Not only were Giannis Antetokounmpo, Grayson Allen, and Pat Connaughton sidelined ahead of the game, but Khris Middleton only clocked 9 minutes of action due to a knee issue. A chance to move up the Eastern Conference ladder was at stake in both games, and the Bulls couldn’t even stay within 10 points of either depleted team.
- As I watched both of these lackluster efforts, I was reminded of the game against Memphis back on Feb. 7. The Bulls had a big-time opportunity to get back to .500 on the season. What did they do? Lose by 15 and score their fewest points of the season. Oh, and this also started a season-worst six-game losing streak. It felt like the basketball gods were telling us that this team just isn’t built to get over the hump. And, while I guess they deserve some credit for clinching a Play-In Tournament spot, I feel like the basketball gods have re-iterated their message over these past two games.
- The Bucks’ defense is very good. I’d also consider them a particularly bad matchup for the Chicago Bulls. A lot of their defensive principles are founded on keeping opponents out of the paint (teams average the 6th-worst FG% within 5ft of the rim against Milwaukee) and encouraging them to chuck up long-range shots. For the Bulls to have any success, they needed to come out aggressive and still attack the paint. But they did the opposite. Seven of the team’s first 10 shots were from 20+ feet from the rim. They knocked down just one.
- Zach LaVine finished the night 5-17 from the field with just 13 points. Even worse, DeMar DeRozan ended 3-12 for 8 points (his second-lowest scoring total of the season). Both played 36 minutes of action. Again, the Bucks’ defense deserves credit for giving these two a tough time (especially Wes Matthews and Jrue Holiday). But that’s still pretty unacceptable. Questioning effort can sometimes sound hokie, but I was in the building last night and couldn’t help but do exactly that. I mean, seriously, how does DeRozan not score a single point until the 4th quarter? Come on now.
- I think what was the most discouraging thing about last night was that the Bulls didn’t punch back. In recent weeks this has been arguably their more redeemable quality. Whenever a team would string together a run, they were no longer hanging their head or slipping into bad habits. Well, after the Bucks broke out a 15-0 run in the 3rd quarter, the Bulls looked like a team without much left in the tank.
- I guess it is what it is. All we can do now is look ahead to the 9v10 Play-In game that is set for next week.
- I wouldn’t expect to see much of the Bulls’ core over these next two games.
- At least Nikola Vucevic did some stuff last night.
- And at least Zach LaVine has been a boss since the All-Star break.
- Speaking of which, LaVine’s name is now very well-represented in the Bulls’ history books. More on that here:
- Will Gottlieb of CHGO makes a pretty good point here. It would be in the Bulls’ best interest to lose these next two games. With the 10 seed already clinched, this would secure the best odds at a top-4 pick if the team were to lose their first Play-In Tournament game.
- As similar as the Bulls and Raptors have been in recent weeks, I hate this likely matchup for Chicago. The Raptors’ length and physicality have caused far too many problems in the past.
- Justin has got to let it fly!
- Happy official retirement!