After losses to the New York Knicks and the Indiana Pacers, the Bulls look to rebound as they welcome the Orlando Magic to the United Center later this evening. Both teams have identical 3-3 records so far this season with each squad trending in opposite directions. After a scorching hot 3-0 start from Chicago the regression to a mean has begun. The Three Alphas and company have had glimpses of unity and chemistry, but have also shown cautious tendencies. Orlando has also been pretty ordinary up to this point, but they’ve been able to rally off three straight victories heading into Monday night’s contest.
Coming off of a disappointing season last year, Magic fans are looking for a fresh start. Some offseason moves consisted of acquiring Serge Ibaka from the Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and rights to the 11th overall pick which turned out to be Domantas Sabonis. Last year’s postseason breakout certainly helped former Raptors big man Bismack Byombo, Orlando signing him for 72 million over 4 years. Another big move that will certainly change the basketball culture in Midwest Florida is the hiring of former Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel. Known for being a great defensive mind in Indianapolis, time simply ran out on the former leader of an influx Pacers team.
Players such as Elfrid Payton and Evan Fournier (don’t google) will be relied on to carry more of a scoring load since Oladipo is no longer around. Aaron Gordon has been starting at the small forward and it’s yet to be seen if the dunk artist can take the next step in his development. In due course the story will be whether or not the Magic can take steps together as one unit. Progress will be expected from fans, a new coach, and a front office that has made moves.
So far this season Chicago has won the battle on the glass, ranking second in the league in rebounds per game with 48.5. The Bulls also rank second in second chance points per game. The team with the number one ranking in that category? -The Orlando Magic. Ibaka, Vucevic, and company score 17.8 second chance points per game. Whoever wins the offensive rebound battle this evening will put themselves in a good position to capture a victory.
Over the last three games the Bulls defense has really been lacking, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Speaking to reporters following Saturday night’s loss in Indiana, Jimmy Butler was very critical of his teammates’ inability to stick to the defensive game plan. “Some guys just switch when we’re not supposed to switch,” Butler said. “I know who is supposed to be switching and who’s not. When that happens, don’t nobody know what to do because that’s not in the game plan, I can tell you that. We didn’t prepare for it.”
Clearly some miscommunication has been occurring on the defensive end. Oh, and the Bulls also rank last in defensive rating in their last three games.
— Stephen Noh (@hungarianjordan) November 6, 2016
Dwyane Wade will look to have a better outing after a day of rest. He has been a huge bright spot so far this season extending his shooting range, and being a vocal leader for the Bulls. It will be a battle of experience versus youth tonight at the United Center. With two teams headed in opposite directions Chicago will either rally or crumble.