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.
Filed under: Uncategorized