MADHOUSE MONDAY'S: BULLS OFF TO FAST START
Game 1: Cleveland at Chicago
To begin the game, there’s a ton of standing around. Nikola Mirotic gets the Bulls going with 10 in the first. Eventually, the defense steps up, only allowing two points from the 5:30 mark on to end the first. Throughout the game, the duo of Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah give the Cavs fits on the glass and on the defensive end. Jimmy doesn’t quite look himself, but he has to guard LeBron James for a majority of the game, so he gets somewhat of a pass. Surprisingly, Fred Hoiberg allows other people, such as Tony Snell, Taj Gibson and E'twaun Moore, to have some spot shots at guarding LeBron. Derrick Rose had to put up a ton of shots, but he still retained his quickness that we're accustomed to. Pau Gasol was nonexistent for most of the game, but ends up saving it with a huge block on LeBron James.
The offense came out clicking, at one pint holding a 17-point lead. Throughout the game, the do a great job of exploiting easy matchups, like Shane Larkin on Derrick Rose and Andrea Bargnani on Taj Gibson, to get easy buckets. Pau Gasol gets involved early and often, and Jimmy Butler gets going late to close out the game. The Bulls spearhead a balanced attack against the Nets to get an easy win.
For the first time all season, and really since the end of the Tom Thibodeau era, the Bulls came out looking lackluster. They didn’t seem to have any energy on either end of the court and nobody could get much going. Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler both struggled mightily, shooting a combined 9-for-32. Butler, however, was able to get to the line plenty and converted 12 of his 14 attempts. Pau Gasol was somewhat useful on the offensive end, but was a mess on the boards and on D. Nikola Mirotic was the only real bright spot, scoring 22 points. Andre Drummond continues to haunt the Bulls, as he recorded a double-double against the Bulls and was the primary reason why the Bulls lost in overtime.
Andre Drummond has 20 or more rebounds in 4 of his last 6 meetings with the Bulls.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 31, 2015
The Bulls and Magic went up and down the court for a while to kick off the game. Eventually, the Bulls got out to a pretty comfortable lead, going up 14 at the half. Derrick Rose couldn’t get much going for himself, only scoring four points on eight shots, but he was able to get his other teammates involved, dishing out eight assists. Rose actually had some more good passes, but the Bulls wasted a few opportunities. The Magic made a run towards the end, but Jimmy Butler flexed his defensive muscles and made some great plays to save the game.
Butler on Rose: "He can barely see and he's making the right play every time."— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) November 2, 2015
Other than the games, the only big news was an article that dropped on Grantland (moment of silence) that involved Fred Hoiberg, Zach Lowe and Joakim Noah. Lowe apparently took Hoiberg saying that Noah was okay with a bench role as Noah coming to Hoiberg with the idea.
Who’s Hot, Who’s Not?
Hot: Nikola Mirotic
Mirotic looks like he took a step in his progression as an NBA superstar. Mirotic took off last year during the month of March and caught national attention. This year, Mirotic is looking like a true weapon in this offense, averaging 19.7 points per game and shooting 50% from three. It’s very early, but Mirotic has looked aggressive in Hoiberg’s new system. Plus, anytime that you’re hitting shots like these, you know you’re rolling.
Since the only preseason game he played in where he went 4-6, Derrick has struggled pretty heavily. Although he’s been able to get to the rim, Derrick is only shooting 37% from the field. He has been able to get his other teammates involved and a lot of his struggles can be associated with playing with double vision. It may take a while for it subside, so this is something to keep watch on.
Stat of the Week
Bulls were +42 from 3-point range tonight (14-0) matching a franchise record for largest positive 3-point disparity (18-4 vs Jazz in 2011).— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) October 29, 2015
One Thing I Think
I think we’re not far from Joakim Noah starting and Fred Hoiberg asking Pau Gasol to come off the bench. Obviously, it’s hard to ask Pau to make a sacrifice as big as this while the Bulls are 3-1. But the Bulls are getting absolutely killed on pick and roll defense: opposing offenses are taking advantage of Gasol’s slow feet and are hammering the Bulls. The Bulls are at a disadvantage on the boards as well, as Gasol just simply doesn’t box anyone out. While Joakim has struggled to score – although his last game of 8 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists in 24 minutes was his best game so far – his defense, specifically on the pick and roll, is sorely needed. Although they’ll miss Gasol’s post savvy in the starting lineup and may be a bit of overkill considering Gibson is coming off the bench, it may be a move that’s needed.