So yeah.. Ouch. Good thing I wrote that bit about not feeling entirely sure of that W in Charlotte, huh?
Really, it's been two days and I still can't wrap my head around the epic collective choke job out there. I mean, I get teams will have off days and poor shooting nights, and whatever else there may be, but that loss felt as something more than that, something worse. The team defense was abused and shred to pieces, with no real change coming after allowing a 69-point first half, which was something we saw a bit of last year as well.
Because of that, tonight's game against Oklahoma City is actually a solid test for this group. The Bulls had their butts handed to them by one of the worst teams in the league, and now they're asked to bounce back against a championship contender. If they compete and adjust tonight, all is forgiven and I'll chuck up the Charlotte game as a "whoopsie" in My Little Pony Diary. But if they come out flat again, it'll be the beginning of a re-emerging pattern that last year saw this team become one of the most unstable and perplexing squads in the NBA.
Am I looking for a win tonight? No, honestly I'm not. What I'm looking for tonight is:
- A valid effort in which corrections, changes, adjustments or whatever the hell we call it just.. happens. If Kevin Durant is launching wide-open three after wide-open three, it'd be failing.
- More aggressiveness going to the basket. Eight free throw attempts against Charlotte doesn't help a lot, even if they did score 105 on the evening. Get to the basket and force the defense to react to you.
- More minutes for Bobby Portis based on 10 minutes of play. Yes, small sample size. Yes, in a blow-out. Yes, mostly against a clean-up crew. But no, I don't care. Portis hustled, ran the floor, played with energy and lifted spirits out there. This is vital in a game like tonight's, and seeing as Joakim Noah isn't exactly oozing any of that these days, now might be the time to give the rook a solid look and give Noah a - gulp - DNP. All right, I'll admit that hurt typing out.
As for the Bulls defense: You know there are two guys who combined is likely to score in the 60-65 point area. Double, react-and-recover, switch, rotate defenders on them, and yes, do in fact throw the kitchen sink against them if you think it'll help any. This is one of those times where you have to let someone else beat you. An open Enes Kanter jumper from 18? I'll take it over a Durant rip-through followed by a herky-jerky move leading to the basket. Just get in their way, and force them to take the worst shots they possibly can, and for the love of Jordan make sure to not turn the ball over against this team. They'll run you to death if they sniff blood once.
Also, if McDermott makes just one three tonight, he'll have matched his season-total from last year. This needed mentioning.
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