Chicago Bulls gunning for preseason title or simulating a real game?

Kevin Durant left the game in the fourth for good, Derrick Rose played out the string and knocked down a couple threes vs the reserves to drag the Bulls to victory.

Rose's minutes were probably by design. The Bulls likely wanted to push him up to regular game minutes at least once before preseason ended. 35 minutes is probably still a shade under what he'll be getting on a nightly basis soon.

If Chicago's smart, everyone important will sit out or play limited stints in the preseason finale to avoid any injuries that could impact the opener.

That said, it looked a bit awkward with the Bulls going hard at the end to win while OKC just packed it in and was content to evaluate their deep reserves. Maybe Tom Thibodeau's simply too scared to even lose a preseason game this year.

Maybe he wants to come back with a 95/96 Jordan vengeance too.

Rose looked human, sort of, no, not really he's awesome

After stringing together a few amazing preseason games, Derrick Rose was almost mortal in this one. His pace of a point per minute dropped off as he merely scored 26 in his 35 minutes. He shot just 6/15 from the field on the way to his 26 points. That's right 26 points on 15 FG attempts was a bad game for him.

The best news for Bulls fans is that after a shaky start with his jumper and free throws, Rose has reverted to automatic from the foul line and has connected on 12 of 23 three point attempts. He's shooting nearly four threes a game and knocking down more than half. If he keeps that up for the season then I don't know how you defend him.

Rose also continues his completely fearless play, diving to the basket with regularity, challenging all big men in his way, and knocking down shots or getting to the stripe. What's even better for Bulls fans is that despite how bad ass he's been, he still looks rusty.

He looks rusty while dominating the hell out of everyone around him.

Jimmy Butler returned and looked ready to go

After missing the last few games with a bruised knee suffered in Rio against the Wizards, Butler returned and played active defensive, was quick to the ball, and showed all the hustle that led Bulls nation to fall in love with him last season.

He had an efficient, though not overly prolific, night from the field to pick up 12 points. four boards, three assists, a block, and a steal.

For some reason last night it struck me.

Jimmy Butler has a really high basketball IQ. He's got good size and athleticism, but what really sets him apart from other guys with similar athletic profiles is that he's always in the right place at the right time. He's there because he anticipates how to get there.

He has a great instinct on when to switch and when to stay, he makes crisp rotations, he knows when to crash the offensive glass to find a seam and get a board and he anticipates passes well.

I think the organization has done a great job developing him with Luol Deng likely playing a pretty large role in that arena.

Not so fast for Hinrich, Noah

Tom Thibodeau stressed both were pretty far away from playing. Of course, there's still nearly a week left before the season opener, so they have time to get past that hurdle.

That said, Noah's still only doing straight line stuff, and Thibodeau more or less said his conditioning is crap.

Kirk isn't cleared to play yet, but he noted that he's no longer experiencing headaches. I'd be a bit surprised if Hinrich doesn't get clearance and suit up against the Heat.

Noah's a trickier case, you really want him, need him, for this game, but despite the fact that it's Miami, he has to rest if he's not ready to go. Groin injuries linger forever, he already had one set back by returning early from it.

It'd be awfully satisfying to beat Miami on opening night, but I'll be more satisfied with a loss and a healthy Joakim Noah in three weeks than a win and Joakim Noah missing two months of the season.

In some ways, this is a perfect test for the Bulls, there's a game in front of them that feels as important as a playoff game. The temptation for Noah and the coaches will be to play him even if it's a little risky. However, the reality is that the game doesn't mean crap, and Noah should only suit up if he's 100%.

Something which doesn't feel so likely right now.


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  • I'm with you. As much as I wanted the Bulls to smash the Whining Floppers in the opener, I'd rather have Jo healthy long term.

  • A bit off subject but is anybody else thinking we should have selected Dieng from Louisville? He had 4 blocks in about 10 minutes of play 2 nights ago.

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    In reply to takdan:

    I'm still high on Tony Snell. Snell can be quite a find if that sweet shot of his connects more. I like the fact that he's able to handle the ball too. Good drive and kick guy. Confidence is difference in his game right now.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    There is literally no way Snell's shot doesn't improve as he gets more reps. What remains to be seen is whether he will develop into an ELITE marksman in the league. He has most of the tools, but I'm not sure if he has even Korver's motor to stay in motion and fight through screens constantly instead of just floating around on the perimeter. Ball-handling while taking contact could use work too. Those are the biggest challenges Snell has to overcome I think.

  • In reply to takdan:

    I just don't see it working with both a Deng and a Dieng on the team :)

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Well, that would have made next summers decision a lot easier

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    I'm glad you recognized Jimmy's high IQ. This is the reason why I feel that Jimmy will have a breakout season, and his impact will be felt almost as great as Rose's return. The fact that he understands the game so well goes beyond stats. He knows when and how to draw fouls. He knows where to position himself for rebounds. His shooting touch is much improved, so has his ball handling, and then there's the steals. Dude still plays excellent defense. Last night he was checking Durant. Impressive! If there's any doubt about who'll be the Bulls 2nd option, Jimmy will elevate his game as the season wears on to become that if needed. His feel for the game tells me so.

  • Bulls have a history of not managing injuries very well. Noah's injury is a good time to change that mentality.

    The Bulls have needed a SG for ages, and Snell just may develop into that guy. Then Butler will usually play SF. So Snell was potentially more important than Dieng, who would have been a decent pick. I hope the coaches try to develop Snell faster than they have some other rookies.

    I see a future starting lineup of Rose, Snell, Butler, Mirotic and Noah. The Bulls are a key trade or draft pick away from a dominating team that will challenge for years. For this year, they still need the backup C.

  • Definitely think Thibs is going for game conditions. Derrick especially needs the minutes. Game cardio is always more effective than bike cardio. And all games against Miami play into home court. So don't mind the starters getting fourth q work in preseason. I also won't mind one bit if Naz (or Taj?) starts the first 20 games this year at center.

    What I DO mind is that Thibs continues to play Taj with the scrubs in games that aren't close. Hate that! The guy is a veteran now. Even if Thibs thinks Taj is more valuable off thinks the bench he deserves the respect of being promoted off slaughter-rule rookie mop up duty.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Totally agree with you on Taj, he deserves that veteran respect. in the regular season the Hole should play with the scrubs so that he can pad his stats.

  • In reply to BigWay:


  • enjoyed the game because the Bulls went up against a good defense. we saw some of the problems that the Bulls have had against the Heat and some other teams. Turnovers could kill the Bulls and they need to keep them under control and we saw the OKC defense blitzing the pick and roll with Rose since the Bulls bring a non scoring threat like Nazr to set the pick. The Bulls have to do a better job of beating the blitz and making teams pay for that, they're too slow in getting the ball to butler, boozer or deng when that happens.

    Damn Steven Adams looks good, it really still pisses me off that we lost Asik for nothing because Garpax didn't do their homework and give a 3 year deal like morey himself does with all second round picks along with everyone in the league. Just imagine this Bulls team with Asik. I hope the Bulls give Pittman a chance, he really never got many minutes in preseason and Thibodeau does suffer from what i call john lucas III syndrome, where he falls in love with former players and doesn't give new guys a chance. I think we need size and if they don't keep pittman, they should pick up another center who is cut. Keeping 4 point guards makes no sense and Tony Snell can handle the ball for emergency 4th point guard.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Totally agree with you on Steven Adams, I couldn't stop thinking about Asik and the value of having a legit 7 footer who knows how to impact the game, especially with Noah already having nagging health issues.

  • Snell taking baby steps, but I think you can see them.

    Nazr better stay healthy. Pittman must be really bad. I hope we can pick up some other teams Final Cut at Center. Adams hurt us last nite.

    Teague needs to push the ball upcourt. He has the ability, but I think maybe he is coached to avoid turnovers at all costs. I think, possibly, slow set-up is not his game right now. Give Thibs time to work his magic I guess.

  • Doug, you nailed it with Butler. In fact, this Bulls team is by far the most intelligent they've ever been since MJ went to the Wiz. Butler, Noah, Deng, Dunleavy and Hinrich are Mensa-level for ballers ... and Rose is making better decisions than ever, even while going at lightening speed. And it looks like Snell is a very smart player ... and will be a potential Kawhi Leonard type as he gains confidence and weight.

    If he goes that direction, then team is good ... otherwise, like another poster said, Dieng was on the board and so was Plumlee and Gobert, all quality back-up bigs. And Gobert could be a monster. He's really surprised people in Utah ... kind of like Adams has done in OKC.

  • Speaking of Snell, he only played 6-7 minutes last night, not sure if he got any in the second half, anybody check with Thibs on that.

    I think that the general consensus among bulls fans was to go after Dieng, so we all have to hope that Snell follows in Bulters foot steps and that Dieng is more or less a bust.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I don't think Dieng has to be a bust, the Bulls just need to prove that they don't need him. It seems clear to me that the bulls plan to use Boozer and Gibson at center rather than a third string C. And as mentioned on an above post, I think that is why Taj is playing with the scrubs. Its to give him more time as the center.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    If Dieng is a stud it will sting just like losing Asik did, for me that will be the case even if Snell pans out.

    As for Taj, at 6'7.75", he is simply not a center, and shouldn't be forced to play significant minutes there. If he has to he won't be healthy come the playoffs. You could see it last night against a raw rookie from New Zealand(Steven Adams) he(Taj) simply didn't have the size to deal with him. At this point, I'd rather have the BozoHole be the backup center and Taj be the starting power forward.

    However, I don't like it when Thibs is forced to have Noah defend power forwards while the Hole hides out against non offensive centers. It takes Noah away from what he does best, being the bulls best help defender and rim protector and replaces him with the lowest effort defender in the history of the league.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Bigway..,you and I agree totally.

    The Upper management Team and Thibs must have decided that Noah, Nazr, Taj as our threeheaded Center can do the job. I have my doubts, and would love Ya All to reply to my reasoning.

    1----Noah is hurt, a lot.,that is lots of minutes filled by Nazr + Taj.
    Your filling these huge minutes of an All-Star Center with an OLD,below average C and an above average Defensive..yet to be better than average offensive PF who is UNDERSIZED against Centers on teams Indiana,Brooklynm and NY. Teams that challenge us Big Time.

    2---Bulls lack scoring, and without a decent C for these minutes, you're just putting more pressure on Derek.

    3----Boozer at C means we're gonna try to Outscore EM. But we are offensively challenged. Hm.

    Any C we play WITH Boozer has to cover for him.


  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    I wanted Dieng at draft time too. But this group has typically done well enough drafting to earn the benefit of the doubt for now.

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