The Bulls got back on track Monday night…wait who’d they play? The Sixers? Hold on let me try that again.
The Bulls beat a very bad team on Monday night. Which is something they should do all the time. Watching the Bulls over the past 4-5 seasons I am never really sure whether or not they are going to closeout a ballgame. It is the roller coaster ride that comes with the territory. I’m sure my cardiologist will thank the Bulls a few years from now.
I’m sorry Philly. I really am. Your team is really really bad. I don’t care if you were missing a few “impact” players like Tony Wroten and Nerlens Noel. Your team is still atrocious. The only thing you can really do now is tell Joel Embiid to wear his walking boot, and to trust the process that Mr. Hinkie keeps talking about.
Before this one got underway Fred Hoiberg was going to make a change to the starting line-up and start Joakim Noah with Pau Gasol. It made sense with the behemoth of a frontcourt Philadelphia has with Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. However, Noel sat out last night due to some sore wrists and Noah felt some discomfort in his left surgically repaired knee. The Noah injury is something to keep an eye on and we will know more at some point today.
Early on the Bulls tried to make things as difficult as possible on rookie Jahlil Okafor. They ran some plays for Pau that ran the rookie through a lot of screens. The Bulls were able to get Pau going and put some pressure on the young big man from Duke. Okafor was a factor in this game but had trouble finishing around the basket. I was very impressed by his footwork and his body control. He isn’t explosive enough to finish over the bigger guys in the NBA just yet. Okafor finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds.
Going into this game the most glaring weakness for the 76ers was their starting backcourt of McConnell and Stauskas. I expected Jimmy and Derrick to torch these guys in transition and take advantage of the mismatch. That kind of happened. Derrick finished with 12 point and Jimmy finished with 7. All of those points came relatively early on in this one since no starter played more than 30 minutes last night.
The first quarter was a good one for the Bulls and had a 31-16 lead after the opening frame. Bobby Portis even got some playing time since Joakim Noah was absent. The Sixers started the game off sloppy and had a couple of bad turnovers in the first. The Bulls bench was able to come in and provide some scoring. I thought that Taj Gibson had a nice game and played extremely aggressive. Taj ended with 7 points and 7 rebounds. Aaron Brooks continues to make me scratch my head at times. He really does not care about any offensive sets. He does his own thing. Sometimes I love it and most of the time I hate it.
The Bulls defensive woes came back in the second quarter. At one point in this game Philly had a 36-35 lead. When you have Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott, and Derrick Rose on the floor at the same time you are not going to play good defense. McDermott still struggles to stay in front of his man and Derrick tends to get caught in no mans land. Rose tries to help a little too much on D, which leaves little time for recovery. McDermott has a DRtg of 105 on the year, which is not good. However, if he keeps his ORtg at 124 we can afford to have some lapses on defense.
After Philly had their brief moment in the sun the Bulls were able to push the ball and get some nice transition threes. Rose was able to find his wings like Snell and McDermott and they capitalized. Doug was even able to get out in transition for a dunk. Derrick started to attack and get into the paint and that’s when the Bulls started to pull away.
The second half was mostly garbage time. Niko Mirotic was more aggressive with the ball and even brought the ball up a couple of times. Mirotic shot 6-11 from the field and finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Good bounce back game from him. The Bulls were able to extend their lead and coast towards the finish.
A win is a win. Looking forward I would like to see a little bit more balance with Derrick and Jimmy, but hopefully that will come. The Bulls are supposed to beat teams like this. Good teams have a killer instinct. If the Bulls can be consistent they will be dangerous.
All stats courtesy of NBA.com