Chicago Bulls at Minnesota Timberwolves in preseason game three

The Bulls look to improve their play after their loss to the Cavaliers in Champaign when they play the Timberwolves tonight in the second half of a preseason back to back.

Bench mob 2.0 continues to struggle to score the ball with hopeful Korver replacement Marco Belinelli 3-13 from the field and 0 for 5 from beyond the arc. Jimmy Butler played a bit better, still struggling to get the ball in the basket, but at least making his way to the free throw line.

The lone bright spot on the night was probably the play of Kirk Hinrich who's brought a strong game in both preseasons tilts so far. One of the big questions of the off-season was whether or not Hinrich would play well after struggling significantly in Atlanta. Hinrich has been the Bulls best player through two games which is both a blessing and a curse.

It's great that Kirk HInrich is playing well, but a team with Kirk Hinrich as their best player isn't going anywhere special.

What needs to change?

The Bulls need to start hitting shots. The Bulls have connected on just 35.7% and 34.9% in their first two games. They're shooting a paltry 9% from beyond the arc. Nine. Percent. 9. Just repeat it out loud a few times, and then tell yourself the Bulls won't miss Kyle Korver at all.

Beyond the poor three point shooting is poor finishing, poor shot selection, a lack of ball movement at times and the overall lack of continuity that's likely expected with seven new players and a couple of preseason contests. That said, other teams have similar challenges and aren't struggling so much.

Nazr Mohammed has been somewhat of a bright spot off the bench. He doesn't offer the defensive presence Asik did, but his pedestrian offense is a massive step up from the stone hands Asik had on display.

Things are a bit better for the starting unit which has generally outscored its opponents, but they aren't playing at a high level either. Carlos Boozer has generally struggled when creating his own shots while Hamilton's efficiency has been up and down on all but the easiest of looks.

Rotational thoughts?

The starting five seems obvious and safe at this point. The only question mark in the lineup was whether someone could challenge Rip Hamilton for the starting job, but while Hamilton hasn't lit the world on fire both Jimmy Butler and Marco Belinelli have played even worse.

It would have taken something fairly special to bench Rip and nothing remotely constituting special has happened for the bench players. At this point, the real battle between the starters and bench centers around how many minutes the reserves play as well as whether or not they play well enough to extend the rotation out to 10-11 rather than just eight or nine.

What to look for?

Hopefully an improvement in focus, team play, and hitting some open shots can improve the bench. The second unit has generated good looks at times but failed to connect while other times struggling mightily to get reasonable looks. Robinson and Belinelli have "bad shot making" ability, but thus far they haven't displayed it much.

Filed under: Game Threads


Leave a comment
  • I'm not going to get too worked up one way or the other over this preseason stuff (not that I'm saying anybody here is).

    I just want the real games to start, where I know the players know, ''Okay, this is it. Now they count.'' Not the messy doubt of whether they're even trying as hard as they could, or whether the focus is there. Not to mention offseason rust. Plus these bizarro lineups like last night with key guys not playing, some guys getting more minutes than they will when the games really count, and guys who likely won't even be here much longer playing (at one point I thought I heard ''Andre Barrett'', but it was Andre Emmett).

    It's good to see the Bulls playing again, but I'm just waiting for the regular season to begin before I start getting happy/pissed off in any meaningful way.

Leave a comment