Bulls prepare for Hawks after building a mansion against the Suns

After a huge win in New York where Chicago lost the rebounding battle, turnover battle, and allowed 50% three point shooting but cruised to an easy victory anyway. The Bulls followed up that performance by throwing enough bricks to build five bedroom house against Phoenix and need to figure out how to win at home against the Hawks.

Ignore the total rebounding numbers, the Bulls won the battle of the glass with 18 offensive rebounds to Phoenix’s nine. They forced seven additional turnovers. They also got blown out and had no chance in the game. Unlike the Knicks game, the Bulls couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn, and Chicago has now fallen to 10-10 at home losing to some fairly pathetic teams, like these Phoenix Suns.

Nothing like watching ultra-scrub Michael Beasley go superstar on your ass.

Enter the Atlanta Hawks.

The Hawks destroyed Chicago in Atlanta the last time the teams matched up, but they were playing higher quality basketball then. They’ve struggled recently losing four of their last five including losses to Washington (though in fairness John Wall was back) and Cleveland. I’d like to think the Bulls will come out and show some fire to win this game, but they’ve struggled so badly at home that it’s hard to put any expectations on Chicago at the United Center.

It raises the question, what the hell is wrong? Home court advantage typically means something fairly significant in the NBA, and the Bulls have dominated their home court in the past two seasons even in games where Rose was out. Obviously no Derrick affects how the Bulls perform overall, but it doesn’t explain how they can be 10-5 on the road with two wins in NY and one in Miami and only 10-10 at home with losses to Charlotte and Phoenix.

Granted, the United Center lacks juice this season without Derrick, much more so than last year when Derrick was out, but the Bulls expected him back for the playoffs and were still fighting for the #1 seed. However, you’d still think that this team could put together a bit better showing than 10-10 and with a quality Hawks team coming in tonight, there’s a serious chance they’ll drop below .500 at home which is unacceptable even with Derrick out.

Win the interior battle

Horford + Smith vs Noah + Boozer.

The Bulls should win the interior battle where they have more size and strength, but it’s not hard to see a scenario where the athleticism of Smith neutralizes the strength of Boozer while the strength of Horford neutralizes the play of Noah. The Bulls need to win the battle of the boards and points in the paint with these two matchups in order to pressure the Hawks.

Know your personnel

The Bulls allowed Kyle Korver to crush them from the three point line last time the two teams met which is completely inexcusable since they know exactly what Korver can do on offense. This time around, the Bulls need to look to keep a man on Korver rather than having a player ready to run out on him when it’s already too late.

Chicago needs to be aware of where Korver and Morrow (questionable for the game) are in transition, when there are rebounds, and in the half court. They can’t afford to give up three point shots because of inattentiveness to one dimensional (but great) shooters.

Abuse the Hawks perimeter defense

Kyle Korver’s a better defender than given credit for, but there’s no way he can stick Luol Deng. If the Hawks switch Korver onto someone else, then there’s no one else who can stick Luol Deng in terms of perimeter defenders either. If they put Josh Smith on Deng, then Boozer or Noah should have a huge advantage.

No matter how you slice it, the Bulls should have one giant mismatch when Korver is on the court, and they should look to exploit that mismatch wherever it is as much as possible.

Final thoughts

This would be a nice win for the Bulls to get. The Hawks are a quality team who destroyed the Bulls last match up. The Bulls can always use quality wins, revenge wins, and a confidence booster at home. They have the matchups they can take advantage of to win the game. Let’s hope they go out and do it.

Also, my apologies on the lack of podcast this weekend, I have to admit, the final Wheel of Time book may have distracted me a bit from my normal podcasting time slot.


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  • Doug, you posed the question: what the hell is wrong? The short answer is: absolutely nothing! The Bulls are losing some games they should win, and winning some games they should lose. It's the NBA. The other team gets paid to perform too. In the end, it all evens out, and the Bulls are where they should be. There’s no Derrick Rose. What do you expect? There are too many flaws in the Bulls roster to overcome the loss of an upper echelon player.

  • In reply to RichG:

    I'm not surprised that they win some games they should lose and lose some they should win.

    I am surprised by their inconsistent rebounding and defense.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    You would think a Tom Thibideau coached team would be consistent on defense. Same with an Eric Spoelstra coached team. Although still a good rebounding team, without Omer Asik, the Bulls simply are not as good a rebounding team as last year. Even as it pertains to rebounding and defense, as well as wins and losses, during the regular season, I’ve come to expect the unexpected.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Rebounding & defense are tied to energy. I thought the United Center was flat the past few years, even with Derrick out there, but now much more so. Attending a Bulls game seems like only a little more than a social event to a lot of people.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    The answer is simple. Ask the coach who is very dominant and demanding? The truth is that as good a coach he and others like you, Doug, think he is, that pigish way he has only goes so far, and the players dictate the fate of the game. If he's a pig and thinks he holds the fate of a game in his hands, then he's now realizing that anytime his key players decide they're tired of his hounding, they can decide the result.
    Anytime Deng and Noah have a bad game, the team loses. Whenever Rose comes back you'll have the same problem. This team will not win just so he (Thibs) can cover himself with glory over the result. So Doug, I'm giving you an education, because this Bulls team will win the big games. It's not a fluke, as you seem to think. They can and will win the big games, but not for Thibs, but for themselves. Thibs' genius is overated! He's just a good coach who's fooling some clowns on this blog, but not big Jerry Reinsdorf, that it's all his magic.
    It has nothing to do with the loss of Asik. Clowns like RichG are looking for anything to highlight the loss of Asik. His loss is overrated and he's not coming back!
    So Doug, catch yourself! This team is good, and they can turn it on whenever they want to. They own the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets.
    Thibs knows his stuff, but he needs a girlfriend to turn him into a normal coach. That kind of pounding from Thibs would disappear if he had a different direction to channel some of his rage!
    Houston would have hell if the players had a coach like Thibs. I wonder how Thibs' love for Asik would fare if Houston had him as coach?

  • The Bulls now have the 6th worst home record in the league, only one western conference team has a worse record than the bulls do.

    Conversely, they have the second best road record in the league, only one game behind the Thunder.

    The home record indicates that they are not a even a playoff team, the road record indicates a championship contender. Talk about inconsistency.

    This is all indicative of the zero margin for error that these Bulls have, and have had under Thibs. The simply don't have the talent to win when they don't outplay/effort the opposition for 48 minutes. When they don't they can be embarrassed by any team in the league.

    Things will likely even out some over the rest of the season. While the inconsistencies are maddening, what difference does any of it really make. We are a first round loser at best without Rose. and unless Rose comes back as Michael Jordan we are a second round loser with him, especially this season.

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    People give up on this team too easily. We match up extremely well against the Heat and have beaten them twice without Derrick, three times if you include the game last year where Derrick was coming off injury and actually hurt the team when he was put back in. We have dominated the Heat in the regular season for the past three seasons.

    A lot of these perceptions are based off of five games two years ago in our sole playoff matchup vs. the heat. Derrick played poorly, but he still had chances to redeem himself in the closing minutes of those games. A lot can change in three years. We did not give Miami our best effort then... if we do who knows what can happen? If we have a Jason Terry-esque playoff run by Deng, Noah, or Boozer I think a deep run is a lot more feasible than most fans think.

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