The Bulls ran into a buzz saw against NY, lost due to a freak occurrence of three point shooting. They then step into Boston on the second half of a back to back against a well rested, elite team in the NBA. They took that team to OT and lost.
In an OT loss, you can obviously pin the loss on any of the hundred of little things that went wrong during the game.
What if the Bulls didn't get annihilated in the second quarter (again)? What if Luol Deng hedged on Rondo's pick and roll two plays in a row that led to wide open layups? What if Derrick Rose got the foul call when Rondo reached in on the last play of the game?
In the end, the Bulls come up with a loss. Yes, it was a game I didn't expect them to win, but when they played so well in the game, it hurts more.
Derrick Rose needs to be tighter with ball handling
The Celtics trapped the hell out of Rose for most of the game and Rose struggled with it. 18 points on 19 shots with 6 turnovers. Down the stretch of the game, you started holding your breath every time he dribbled the ball out of fear rather than out of expectation of something good happening.
Rose is starting to get the full on superstar treatment, where he's seeing immense coverage very time he touches the ball. While you could argue the Bulls bigs aren't helping him enough, that's really not been the case this year as Gibson and Noah are averaging about 31 points a game on 62% (or so) TS% combined.
Rose is obviously still off to an amazing start this season, but the Celtics forced him into an inefficient night. The Bulls need to find a counter to the trap 38 feet from the basket.
Joakim Noah is shutting up people who say he's only a hustle player
Noah had a tremendous game stepping up to create his own offense, knocking down all 10 of his free throws and looked every bit the potential all-star we hoped he could become. Noah even knocked down jumpers in this game and was really able to punish Boston for any bit of breathing room he had.
Perhaps the lone negative to the night was when he tried to go coast to coast at the end of the OT period with the Bulls down three and was stripped from behind by Kevin Garnett to seal the loss. Noah's a solid ball handler in the open court, but needing 3 points at the time he really needed to give up the ball in that situation even regardless of being stripped.
Taj Gibson has been awesome after sucking in preseason
Gibson put together another solid performance. Tonight he knocked down 7 of 12 jumpers rather than getting open dunks. For all the talk about the Bulls hurting due to a lack of Boozer it's hard to argue that the team hasn't been getting outstanding play out of it's starting front court.
It sounds insane right now, but the way Gibson is playing, you could almost make the case to bring Boozer off the bench. Gibson needs Rose to help create for him, but given that is putting up fantastic numbers. Boozer could come in and create for himself with the second unit and completely solve our issue of getting murdered every time the starters rest.
That's obviously not going to happen, but Thibodeau needs to keep one of Rose or Boozer on the floor the vast majority of time, because Gibson, as well as he's playing, isn't a shot creator for the second unit.
Luol Deng's three is definitely legit
Luol Deng givith and taketh away in this game. Towards the end of the
game, Deng knocked down two threes, and he's now shooting 50% from the
three point line on 3.6 attempts per game in the regular season. Those
two threes helped the Bulls come from behind to tie the game.
However, his horrible pick and roll defense allowing Rondo to get to the
hoop twice by not showing out on Rondo allowing Rondo to get open looks
in the lane helped sink the team as well.
The increased three point shooting is a boon for the Bulls though, and
when Deng's going through games where he turns the ball over too much or
struggles on defense or with rebounding, the fact that he's knocking
down three point shots allows him to contribute quite a bit more.
Keith Bogans wouldn't make a sound if he fell in the forest
Bogans had a pretty decent game by his standards filling up all the hustle points. Though he made an insane play of chasing a loose ball into the back court and diving on it to give the Bulls the final possession of regulation. Only problem is that he almost dove out of bounds with the ball, and that it was a backcourt violation anyway, so his insane chase for the ball really was closer to costing the Bulls then helping them.
Still, understandable if he didn't see who the ball was off of or thought it was tipped somewhere, and his sprint down court forced Ray Allen to sprint as well, because if Allen doesn't sprint and Bogans comes up with the ball it's the game. I loved the effort though.
The Bulls still need to get more shooting out of Bogans who plays a massive amount of minutes without providing a real threat to shoot the ball.
Ronnie Brewer is on his way to becoming the starting two guard
The past two games, Brewer's given the Bulls a nice lift when entering the game, and if I were to hazard a guess, I'd say he's probably pushed James Johnson back to the bench now. As noted in the last post game thread, Johnson hasn't been able to recapture the magic of the Detroit game, and the Bulls have struggled mightily when he's on the floor since that point.
On the other hand, Brewer's come in and made an impact with his defense and is starting to find his role on offense and getting easy opportunities. He even knocked down a mid range jumper in this one. Brewer's game would improve considerably playing with Derrick Rose who has better passing instincts than Watson and would find him on his basket cuts.
C.J. Watson is getting to where we want him to be
There is still going to be a legion of fans who hate on Watson because there's a huge drop off when he enters the game, but you don't replace Derrick Rose with a three million dollar a year player.
I noted last game thread, that I thought he was playing better in recent games except that his shot wasn't falling while others have called him a shot chucker. Personally, I think Watson's the only guy who can create his own offense for the majority of minutes he plays, so it's no surprise he shoots a decent amount.
He's been a willing passer though, and looks for Korver on the back screen plays all the time to find him. His ball handling has been much better after a shaky start, and in this game he hit his only two jumpers and had three assists.
More importantly he played solid defense on Rondo and helped lead the Bulls comeback. He did a nice job of fighting through screens and staying in front of Rondo, better than what Deng/Rose combined for as soon as Watson left the game.
He's still not a stud, and he likely never will be, but when his scoring efficiency creeps back up then he'll represent the player we wanted, a guy who can create his own shot, handle the ball, and do a solid job while Rose is on the bench and possibly push for some starting time.
Kyle Korver played big minutes to mediocre effect
Korver did hit one big three in OT to help keep the Bulls in the game at that point, but otherwise was fairly quiet in his minutes on the floor. He still does a lot to open up the offense, and it's apparent how much harder the opposing defense has to work when he's on the floor.
At the same time, he had several key plays where he was exploited on defense including Ray Allen getting inside position off a top of the key screen that led to his OT dunk. I'm still in favor of keeping Korver on the floor 20 minutes a night though, because even when he's not getting open looks he generates so much space for other players.
Shooters like Korver show you why you can't simply look at three point percentage to determine how dangerous a shooter is. Luol Deng is shooting 50% from the three point line, but he does it all on open threes. No one is scared to death of Deng running around a back screen and doing a turn around catch and shoot from the three point line, so no one needs to guard him that closely.
Luol Deng can punish you for leaving him wide open. Korver punishes you for giving him an inch, and the pressure he places on the defense is totally different. This isn't a knock on Deng though, his increased there point shooting has been a revelation to the team.
Something needs to change with the 2nd quarter rotation
I've harped on it in virtually every post game thread, which means that this is a pretty big problem right now. You can't throw out a lineup with five of your end of bench players at once. You need to keep someone on the floor to help them.
There aren't many options, but going with guys like Scal, Johnson, Omer, and Watson at one time is a recipe for disaster. Any of those guys could fit in with better players in a specific niche role, but together, there's simply no leader for them.
The probably will remain difficult to solve until Boozer gets back, as there's simply not enough offensive creators on this team without Boozer in there.
At this point though, I think the Bulls need to move away from either Scalabrine or Johnson and go with one guy to give him enough minutes to find the flow. Johnson can give you athleticism, defense, and occasional flashes of offensive ability. Scalabrine can calm down your offense, keep the plays running smoothly, and provide on floor coaching like ability.
They are near polar opposites in every way, and playing them at the same time tends to exploit both weaknesses and neither strength, it also doesn't allow either one to find a grove though this is probably more of a problem for Johnson than Scalabrine. I think a shorter rotation would help one of them play better though.
After five games, I would have predicted a 2-3 record for the Bulls though I would have thought a win over the Knicks and a loss to the Blazers would have gotten them there. It goes to show that you don't win every game you should nor lose every game you should.
Overall, I'm pleased with the individual play to this point. The Bulls are missing one of their most talented players right now and are still generally playing at a pretty high level despite the 2-3 record.
However, when you play well and lose, it doesn't necessarily mean that you make it up by playing badly and winning later. The Bulls have still missed some key opportunities to win a couple games early on, and that's never a good thing even if the team has been a bit better than their record to date.