Facing the Wizards, Playing Smarter and Harder, Filling the Record Books, and Other Bulls Bullets

The Chicago Bulls will try not to dump all their positive momentum into the Potomac River later tonight.

After an unexpected win in Miami to open the season, they will now head to D.C. to play the reigning No. 12 seed. To be sure, the Wizards’ roster has taken a step in the right direction since losing three straight to the Bulls last season, but this is still a squad the Bulls must take care of if they want to be taken seriously in this competitive conference.

In other words, as awesome as it was, it shouldn’t have to take a heroic DeMar DeRozan buzzer-beater to get this victory!

  • Not only have the Wizards gotten back a healthy Bradley Beal, but they added big man Kristaps Prozingis at last season’s trade deadline before also welcoming well-respected veterans Monte Morris and Will Barton in the offseason. Add in young talent like Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura, and this simply isn’t a team that can be taken lightly. With legitimate offensive upside, it will be up to the Bulls to play with the same high motor on defense that we saw against Miami.
  • The Bulls deserve a lot of credit for playing smarter *and* harder during their season opener on Thursday. At times last year, matching the physicality became a serious problem against teams like the Miami Heat. They had similar problems when it came to staying disciplined and executing the game plan no matter the score. When down, we would see the hero ball creep up. When up, we would see a foot come off the gas. On Thursday night, however, it really felt like one of the more complete games we’ve seen from this core in terms of execution and effort. They’ll now have an opportunity to prove they can maintain that mindset again lesser competition.
  • Part of playing smarter is what Steve Jones Jr. outlines below. While the Bulls can still do a better job of recognizing certain mismatches, they did hunt the advantageous matchup several times against Miami. More specifically, DeMar DeRozan feasted when getting the switch onto Tyler Herro …
  • Another simple yet effective play came in transition when Nikola Vucevic headed into the paint and sealed off Bam Adebayo. Ayo Dosunmu did a great job recognizing the big man was in position and quickly fed him the ball. As easy as something like this feels, it’s something that the Bulls struggled to do time and again last season. Not only did Vucevic spend a little too much time around the 3-point line, but his teammates failed to find him in his spots time and again. As someone who built an All-Star resume, in part, around his strong footwork and post-up skills, taking advantage of these opportunities when they present themselves is key.
  • More smart basketball!
  • I think I forgot to share this, but better late than never! DeMar DeRozan continues to cement himself into the franchise record books …
  • Meanwhile, Vucevic is on his way up the all-time rebounding leaderboards.
  • Two things the Bulls would love to see continue over these first few games of the season: Offensive rebounding and free-throw line visits. After finishing 2nd-to-last in offensive rebounds per game last season, the Bulls were able to win that battle on the glass 12-8 on Thursday (Vucevic had 5 OREBs!). They were also able to match Miami in free-throw attempts thanks to some extra pressure at the rim. When we consider the downhill game this team wants to play, getting the free-throw line more should be a priority.
  • A lot of Patrick Williams questions. I have plenty of my own, but I’m going to give him a couple of weeks to get comfortable before I start thinking too critically about his situation.
  • I’m so happy this show is back.
  • RIP to the long-time ref.
  • So this is crazy …
  • OPENING NIGHT BABY!
  • written by

    Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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