Bulls keep racking up moral losses

It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was down right ugly. The 76ers stink. They have virtually no offensive threats, no quality big men, but they played like they gave a crap, and the Bulls didn't. Despite that, Chicago managed to squeak out a victory despite the best efforts of Kirk Hinrich.

With 36 seconds to go Pau Gasol put the Bulls up by nine points by making a pair of free throws, the 76ers almost went Indiana on our ass though as they started making shots with a Hinrich turnover, and Kirk missing consecutive free throws. The lead was cut to one at one point then Kirk hit a couple of free throws and the sixers missed a long heave at the end that could have tied the game.

The defense sucks

The Bulls defensive rating of 104.7 isn't god awful, but it's just around the league average right now. Ratings tend to go up as the season goes on an teams find their form and offensive groove, so a 104.7 looks a bit worse at this point than it would later on.

On top of that, the Bulls really haven't played anyone with an offense worth mentioning outside of the Cavaliers who still haven't gelled yet. They've played three of the worst offensive teams in the NBA so far, and the 76ers were simply beasting the Bulls.

The problems begin on the dribble penetration where Hinrich, despite his reputation as a defender, can't keep anyone in front of him. Joakim Noah still hasn't found his form from off-season knee surgery which has now been compounded by illness. He looked slow and lethargic last night which can be forgiven if still recovering from whatever, but he hasn't looked a whole lot better prior to getting sick either.

Gasol blocks plenty of shots, and does an okay job around the basket at times, but he allows guys to get in too deep and is very slow to come out on anyone more than six feet from the basket. Guys he's defending can typically get all the open 15 foot jumpers they want, and many opposing big men have buried us with them.

Butler has been the lone bright spot on defense for the Bulls, but even he struggled yesterday.

The rebounding has been equally pathetic

how many opponents have the Bulls outrebounded this year? Only the Knicks, and that was largely due to the fact Chicago shot so much better from the field and had mostly defensive rebounding opportunities.

It's harder to pinpoint where the problem here is. Gasol isn't as effective as Boozer, but not to the extent it should cause this type of havoc. I suppose the fact that Noah hasn't played well is the biggest culprit, and Chicago will likely get a bit better with Derrick Rose in there as well.

Still, it just seems like a lot of laziness and just not finishing off their plays. Poor box outs, poor technique, poor effort. The most surprising thing is that it has lasted this long, I would think Thibodeau would be drilling guys to death over these areas since they're definitely areas that can be coached up.

That said, the Bulls busy schedule so far has limited practice time which may be why we haven't seen that yet. I expect Chicago to improve, but it's eye opening how big the struggle is right now.

Offense has been outstanding

The Bulls have the fourth highest offensive rating in the NBA. No small part of that is likely due to the defenses they've fast have been less than fearsome, but you can only play the schedule given.

It's great to see Chicago put something good together on that side of the ball over the past few seasons. At the end of games the Bulls aren't getting stops, but they are getting buckets. Something we haven't seen in the past.

I think, overall, it's much easier to coach up defense/rebounding than offense, so I'll find this to be an encouraging development especially given how little they've gotten out of Derrick Rose to date.

Effectively, Rose has played well in one full game this season where the Bulls slaughtered the Knicks, but their overall record is still 5-1. That's a nice run to open the season under the circumstances, and despite doing some things pretty well, they obviously have a lot of head room to improve on the offensive side of the ball as well.

The bench finally has some really nice balance to it with plenty of shooters and scorers to go around. I'll be excited to see how much a healthy Rose can improve this squad from what's already a pretty good level.

Does the streak end tonight?

I could easily see the Bulls dropping tonight's game to the Celtics. Boston is nothing special, and is also coming off of a back to back, but this will be the Bulls fourth game in five nights, and Tom Thibodeau is starting to get silly with the rotations again.

We're starting to see him over rely on the same core players instead of letting some guys take their lumps and get some experience as well as keep the core guys fresh. It's early in the season, but the Bulls already are in need of some rest especially with Noah still huffing and puffing and Rose mostly unable to play.

Chicago has pulled a rabbit out of its hat a few times to win games and has let pretty pedestrian teams stick around with them. They barely beat Minnesota and Philly while letting Milwaukee and Orlando hang around far longer than they should.

Chicago doesn't see to have much killer instinct right now, and I think they're due to drop a game, even to an inferior team because of it.

Kings keep rolling

The Kings have gone from "will we get their pick" to "I hope the pick doesn't suck so much". They're 5-1 with some quality wins. Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins have both gone into beast mode and Darren Collison has been a great fit for them at PG.

I suspect the Kings tail off as the season wears on, but they probably only need 35 wins for the Bulls to get that selection, and at 5-1, they're well on their way to getting that total.

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  • The Bulls should be alright against the Celtics with both Rondo and Smart out. It's so weird seeing this Bulls team, everything Thibs has preached since his 1st year has been turned on it's end.

    KC Johnson tweeted that Thibs was again very positive after the win. What is Thibs smoking, before he would have been critical of the team's defense if they didn't hold the opponent to 80 points.

    This is the Bulls worst defensive rebounding since the 83-84 season and going back to the 73' season, this team currently ranks as the worst offensive rebounding team. The 1st,2nd and 3rd best defensive rebounding teams are 2009-2011 and 2013-14.

  • Is it too early to say that I told you so, yes it is but, from day one of the Luol Deng trade I said that it was close to a statistical certainty that the Bulls would get that Sacto pick, and that it would fall between 11-20. Many if not most dismissed it. The Kings could easily be better than all 7 non playoff teams in the east, then they only have to beat out 3 teams in the west, with the Lakers, Jazz and Wolves being near locks, that's 10 teams. It would suck if they ended up making the playoffs over say OKC because of the Durant & Westbrook injuries. Hopefully, there are still enough good teams in the West to prevent that. But right now it looks like they could be in the same class as the Suns & Pelly's fighting for a shot at the last playoff berth.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I am often critical of Bulls FO, but the Deng trade was exceptional. If we understand Deng had absolutely zero value to Bulls, with no intention of resigning and Deng becoming unrestricted in 6 months. Look what Bulls stole from Cleveland:
    1st round pick (Sac).
    Two 2nd round picks (Portland). Always nice to have 2nds on hand.
    Right to swap 1st rounders with Cleveland in 2015.
    $20 million savings in salary and luxury tax.

    All this for NOTHING - ZERO in return, as Cleveland soon learned when Deng became UFA.

    It was a unique circumstance with Bynum’s rare mid-season non-guarantee contract. But GarPax took full advantage of Cleveland. The Deng trade was highway robbery!

    Soon we will see what Bulls can do with two 2015 1st round picks.

  • Gasol isn't as effective as BOOZER? I had to read that sentence several times to be sure that's what you actually wrote, Doug. My god, Gasol must then utterly suck on D. Or am I misreading what you were trying to say, because so far it has been a pleasure to see Gasol's work in the post - the kind of offensive moves I think we all THOUGHT we would be getting with Boozer.

  • In reply to MadTown56:

    I think he was speaking about rebounding only, and even that is debateable, but does seem to be open for questioning.

  • In reply to MadTown56:

    I was speaking only on rebounding, and no, Gasol is not as good a rebounder as Boozer. Boozer gave up any attempt at playing defense in order to rebound, but he did rebound really well. It was probably the only thing he did really well by the end of his Bulls tenure, but he did do it.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    defensive rebounding, not rebounding overall.

  • Good call on the moral losses, although maybe they are morale losses, at least for the fans.

    You hit on the big obvious problems, rebounding and defense, mostly do to lack of effort. I'm having a hard time coming to grips with the Gasol/boozer conundrum. Gasol is now averaging a couple more rebounds per game than boozer gave us(11 vs 9) but somehow doesn't feel like Gasol is a good defensive rebounder, yet that was about the only thing that it felt like boozer even tried to do. Neither guy boxes out anybody or makes any effort at help defense.

    Besides Noah spending too much time contesting jump shooters, the biggest problem seems to be simple lack of effort and discipline, the perimeter guys aren't boxing out at all, allowing wings and guards to come flying in to grab rebounds over our bigs. Everybody is mostly standing around watching the shot go up either waiting for someone else to get the rebound or hoping that it will just come to them. Nobody is moving their feet or bodies to get in position to rebound.

    Taj is continuing his pattern from last season, letting his offensive game go to his head while slacking on the defensive end of the court.

    I'm not sure that I see an obvious solution, other than splitting up Noah and Gasol, and that just isn't happening without a trade.

    Watching Hangdog being Hangdog is simply not fun, sometimes even as nauseating as the look on Hangdog's face is. Obviously, Rose being healthy would solve most of this problem. However, that will only deepen the Brooks vs Hangdog debate as there really won't be enough minutes for both of them to play as much as they like to.

    This Philly team without Noel and MCW has to be the most anonymous team in league history. If I didn't have a rooting interest in Tony Wroten, I wouldn't have known a single guy that played last night, well I guess that I've heard of Shved when he was in Minny, and remember that Sims guys putting up some numbers against us last season.

    This game was Gulliver against the Lilliputians, and we came as close as we could to blowing it, somehow managing to lose the rebounding battle to a bunch of midgets, again getting killed on the offensive glass.

    The Noah situation is becoming disheartening. Besides the fact that he gets out of shape like a guy with a 3 pack a day habit, he seems to have no role what-so-ever in our offense, and playing power forward has taken him out of his dominant role in our defense and on the boards. It really sucks, but maybe a platoon system for our bigmen would be best for all involved.

    I feel the same way as you do about our outlook against the Celtics tonight, who are the best of the bad teams that we've played so far. However, apparently Rondo will be out, and their rookie Smart got hurt last night(I think that he left on a stretcher), so he likely won't play either, maybe that gives us another undeserved victory.

    Basically, if Rose, Noah and Butler aren't going gangbusters this team is no fun to watch and always in jeopardy of losing to anyone.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Almost forgot, last call on Taj, in 23 minutes he still managed to record a DNPPD(players decision)

  • 1--Noah deserves to get more time to get over the sickness he had. As far as the knee, I am afraid we are goin'' to have to be a LOT more patient. Then there's the fitting in at PF with Gasol. Does anybody else get my point?

    2--Mc D and Niko are still on and off. Two more reasons for patience.

    Did I see Niko, Gasol, and McD out there for a while.., that's not good for the "D" either.

    3-- Taj, he is certainly lookin for his pts,, which is fine except everyone thinks he's putting in less effort on "D" and rebounding. He's hurtin' or he's lazy, or BOTH?

    4--Kirk runs hot and cold, but his effort is there. Haters.., think for a minute where we would be without him playin' all these minutes because Rose is out.

    5--Either Thibs is putting on a Big Front.., or maybe he's bought into my theory of spread the minutes till the All-Star Break and then form/tighten your rotations.

    Comments?

  • FU Thibs,
    FU Gasol,
    FU Gibson.
    FU individual politics

    What's the point of being a genius if you are an idiot.

    Putting Gasol back in with less than 2 minutes cost us the game tonight. even if Noah was gassed, or he hit his artificial time limit.

    Letting Hangdog run the offense costs us the game every night.

    Just like last season when DJ should have started ahead of Hangdog, Brooks should be ahead of him this season.

    and Gasol shouldn't be your closer when you absolutely need stops.

    It doesn't take a genius to see that.

  • Are we all beginning to see that Thibs may not be the coach to lead this team to a championship? The Boston game loss had many observable patterns:1) Rookies may not get enough playing time to be effective in the second season 2) Jimmie Butler is the new Deng getting too many minutes 3) Thibs is set in his ways and cannot adapt to prepare this team for the post season. Playing Noah at power forward is a mistake.

  • In reply to penwit1:

    Agreed.
    Our 2014-15 Bulls look to me to be a regular season team. They will have a good record but struggle in the playoffs.

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