Chicago Bulls crush listless Cavaliers prepare for Hornets tonight

The Chicago Bulls went into Cleveland and annihilated the Cavs. While the whole team shot well, long time scapegoats Carlos Boozer and Rip Hamilton led the way for the second straight game and are both off to a hot start to the season.

This time, they got plenty of help from the rest of the team on offense, and the Bulls piled on the points against a Cleveland squad that couldn't play any team defense whatsoever. Unlike the opener, the Bulls had plenty of shots at the rim to deliver high percentage offense and cleaned up much of what they missed for easy put backs.

All in all, the shot over 50% in a game that was effectively over after the first half. The Bulls emptied the bench for the majority of the second half and the starters will be well rested for the game tonight in New Orleans.

The bench mob 2.0 has played much better in the regular season than in preseason. Nate Robinson is playing well and while Marco Belinelli isn't setting the world on fire, he's played much better in both regular season games than any preseason ones. Jimmy Butler played quite well last night with outstanding defense and looked solid on offense.

Nazr Mohammed hasn't played quite so well as in preseason, but he's also gotten few opportunities. Taj Gibson has played well on defense but hasn't found his game on the offensive side yet.

Bulls vs Hornets

The Hornets will play without star Rookie Anthony Davis who score eight points and had six boards in just 14 minutes prior to getting elbowed by teammate Austin Rivers causing a mild concussion. He won't be accompanying the team to Chicago. Eric Gordon is expected to miss the game with a sore left knee as well.

This leaves the Bulls facing a team low on talent and experience. Much like the Cavs and Kings teams the Bulls have already defeated, Chicago should do well by just playing consistent, smart basketball against a team that will struggle to do the same.

The Hornets don't have a go-to scorer, quality defenders, or much of anything to throw at a Chicago Bulls team that seems likely to lead to their victory, which sets this up as one of those inexplicable let down games that you somehow fear the team will lose. Under a different coach that might happen, but I doubt it does under Tom Thibodeau.

If Chicago wants to compete for a decent seed, they'll need to take advantage of all the early games in the season against mediocre to poor competition, because things get much tougher very shortly. I set an opening goal for Chicago to win three of their first four. They're 2/3rds of their way there and with Davis and Gordon out tonight have no excuse not to pick up this game as well.

Keys to a win

Like always, it starts with Defense, rebounding, and sharing the ball on offense. The Hornets are the third team in a row the Bulls face that will likely to fail to match them in terms of discipline, schemes, and talent. As long as the Bulls play their game and remained focused, they should come up with another win tonight.

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  • Doug, does this team have a chance to challenge the Bulls old 72-10 mark? haha. but seriously, this group has so far been a pleasant surprise with no real complaints. Living in Seattle it is a bonus for me to have Robinson on the team and he helps provide at least some excitement while we wait for Rosé to return.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    72-0? I'd say minimum 80 wins.

    Things will likely get worse once the schedule toughens up, but at least they're taking advantage so far, hopefully they roll tonight too.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Guess I spoke too soon, nice start Chi.

  • Still worried a little at the backup center position. A lot of fans were showing Nazr love in the pre-season, but I watch him as he runs up and down the court and he looks like an old man to me. Taj has been playing a little backup, but if he, Noah or Booz go down with an injury the Bulls will be real thin with their bigs. I am still p!ssed the Bulls didn't sign Omer before he became a restricted free agent.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    *everyone 6 or 8 months ago* Don't worry, Asik is their number one offseason priority!

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    They couldn't sign him to that deal. That offer sheet was absurd. There's a reason why the rockets ended up with Lin and Asik, and the answer is that both the Bulls and Knicks organizations aren't retarded. The backloaded 15-15 on that deal would have paid Asik as much as Noah the last 2 years of the deal. So its completely reasonable to assume that the Bulls would commit 30 million a year to the center position in 2014-15? Wasn't an option to sign him unless you unload Noah. And you are right to question Nazr. He looks finished, not bringing anything these first few games.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    Theoretically you are correct, you cannot spend that much money in one year for Noah and Asik.

    However, if Asik was really a long term core piece for your championship aspirations then maybe you have to bite the bullet. You could argue that we don't really know how good Asik is/will be, we will find out this season, unfortunately in Houston. Who really knows, he may turn out to be a better starting center than Noah. So if he turns out to be a core guy for the next 10 years then we made a mistake letting him go.

    If it turns out that Asik is a legitimate NBA starter, which I contend that he is(he may end up being top 10 in todays NBA) then trading Noah in the summer of 2014 for a offensive star may have been the Bulls best move in building a championship team. I say that even with Noah being my favorite Bull.

    I always said that if push came to shove, you keep Asik over Gibson because of his size.

    Tonight's game was a perfect example of what I said was the problem with giving up Asik, we become a small team. All of our bigs are undersized in one way or another. The Bulls struggled all night with NO size even with them playing without their best big Anthony Davis.

    The cost of signing(keeping) Bozo will likely haunt us for years to come.

    Finally, I am fairly certain that Asik didn't really want to remain a Bull because in addition to the money, he wanted to go somewhere where he could start

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I agree with most of your points, but I still cant see Asik's ceiling as anything more than a poor man's Wallace or Camby. He is still a liability on offense, hes been playing well for Houston, actually been a rebounding machine thus far. I still don't see him developing anything resembling a post game, and we all know that there is no way hes developing a jumpshot. All in all, matching Houston's offer sheet would have been a huge gamble, and the Bulls were just not willing to take on the risk. Hell, the bulls could have taken a smaller flyer on OJ Majo, a move that would have had a smaller risk and larger upside, and they didn't even pull the trigger on that one. We never know what would have happened had Derrick not gotten injured, I think to some extent that changed everything.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    My point was the they should have signed Asik BEFORE he became a restricted free agent, the way they did with Taj. That way the Bulls could have got him for less without the balloon payment. GarPax overplayed their hand and got caught with their pants down (big surprise). For years we kept hearing about Omer playing in Europe and coming here. Then when the Bulls finally get him and he is ready to blossom they get outflanked by a more savy GM. Now we are playing this waiting game again with Mirotic.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    I totally agree that we should have locked up Asik before he ever got to free agency.

    However, I don't know if the CBA would have allowed the Bulls to extend Asik's 2 year contract. Clearly, as has been discussed we should have initially signed Asik to a 3 year deal, which would have given us his full Bird rights and eliminated the poison pill contract that he signed.

    Typical bulls saving a few nickels up front costing them down the road. Asik is averaging nearly 15 boards a game in about 35 mpg for those of you who always complained that he was too out of shape to play starters minutes. He could very well end up leading the league in rebounding. Heck, at that rate he could also end up in the running for defensive player of the year.

    I wonder how long it will be before Bulls fans start moaning that we should have kept Asik instead of Gibson, my guess is sometime around the All-Star break. It wouldn't shock me if by next year Bulls fans will be clamoring that we should have kept Asik and traded Noah. It will certainly be obvious that we should have retained his services at least in order to have that option.

    We sure could have used Asik's size last night against Lopez, Smith and Anderson.

    It is also interesting to note that I argued that Asik was worth trading for a guy like James Hardin not Courtney Lee, or 2 #1 picks, not one late round pick. I still contend that OKC would have beat Miami in last seasons finals with Asik as their starting center. Only time will tell, but he's off to exactly the kind of start that I predicted he would as a starter.

    I am totally rooting for Asik(he was my 2nd favorite Bull, after Noah) but the better he does the more pissed off at the Bulls that I become.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    The real screwup like you pointed out was not signing him to a 3 year deal like most other teams do with euro players. I'm guessing the Bulls "had luxury tax concerns" so they opted for the shorter 2 year deal. I don't blame them for not trading Asik at the deadline because they did look like a title contender before all the injuries piled up but I knew for sure he was going to get 8-10 million by a mediocre team like Houston when most people were saying midlevel money. What I blame them for is being always concerned with the luxury tax boogie man and a poor job of asset retention. I'm glad they learned and signed up Gibson to a reasonable deal.

  • Got back from the game a couple hours ago. Well that embarrassing! Could the Hornets without Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon win an NCAA championship?

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