With a compressed schedule, teams will rely on the depth more than usual which bodes awfully well for the Chicago Bulls regular season record. The Bulls starters played poorly, but the bench simply overwhelmed the Pacers bench.
The Bulls bench was largely +20 on the night, while the starters, outside of Rose, were largely -10 mostly due to a horrific first quarter.
Jimmy Butler mania starting in 3.. 2..
Jimmy Butler played like a veteran. His statline, 8 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 16 minutes was very solid, and his defense was excellent. He was crisp in his rotations, didn't try to do more than he was capable of, didn't hesitate, and played nothing like a rookie.
That said, it was 16 minutes of preseason action, so let's not get carried away. We've seen glimpses of lots of players who looked outstanding in preseason and failed to translate that over into consistent solid play in the regular season.
However, his play was a strong positive, and he looks poised to give Chicago exactly what they hoped to get out of him. Excellent defense and opportunistic offense.
There's the C.J. Watson we need
C.J. got his scoring on, knocking down all three of his shots from beyond the arc and contributing 15 points on only 10 shot attempts. The Bulls will certainly get a big lift out of C.J. if he can focus a bit more on scoring and a bit less on waiting for Korver to come off double back picks.
So much for Carlos Boozer beasting
Carlos came into camp in great shape, and the reports were that he was simply beasting guys in practice. Maybe he was. However, that certainly didn't translate to the game against the Pacers. Boozer looked as lost as ever on defense, unexplosive on offense, and generally struggled mightily.
Nothing to panic about after one game, but certainly nothing to get excited about either. The Bulls will definitely need Boozer to play significantly better in the playoffs to advance, so hopefully he's able to pick it up.
Sir not appearing in this game
Richard Hamilton didn't play, but we did learn he'll get to wear a headband. Seriously, can we remove the headband rule so that every time we woo a free agent here we don't have to discuss whether he can wear a headband or not?
The Bulls have transitioned into a team that wins on talent
For so long in the Hinrich/Gordon/Deng era, the Bulls would win games by outworking opponents. They'd win by scrappy play, out grinding, and out hustling their opponents. If they didn't dominate in the intangibles, they struggled.
In short, to use a football reference, they won a lot based on "special teams".
Despite holding a two rebound lead overall, the Bulls were dominated on the glass when you view defensive/offensive rebound percentage. They gave up 10 more turnovers than the Pacers, and they had five more fouls leading to 10 less free throws. The kind of stats that would have doomed them in the past.
However, they dominated in every other aspect. They shot near 50% while holding the Pacers to under 40%. Their base offense was able to score, their base defense was able to stop scores. They've transitioned into a team that wins in the core parts of the game rather than requiring an unending supply of hustle and energy to stay ahead.
A strong start
Plenty to work on, but after the first quarter, the Bulls absolutely annihilated the Pacers. The Bulls gave up just 53 points over quarters two through four after allowing 33 in the first. All in all a nice tune up for Chicago against an active, physical opponent.
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