After defeating the dreadful Nets, the Bulls are now 2-0 for the first time since 2012-2013 season (and ’02 before that).
This year’s two wins thus far are a little more impressive, not only knocking off LeBron’s NBA Finals Cavs, but traveling to Brooklyn for a back-to-back, which is never easy, no matter how pitiful the opponent may be.
Hoiberg’s up-tempo, dynamic offense continues to look like it’s going to be a lot of fun, as this team gets the hang of pushing the pace, utilizing wing weave action and dribble hand-offs, early drag screens, and more weak side low posts, among others. This is in stark contrast to last year where the Bulls would take 6-8 seconds to walk the ball up, run set plays, and often feed strong side low posts with Pau, dishing for a three, and/or re-posting if the initial move wasn’t there, too often resulting in a poor shot, trying to beat the shot clock.
Being just the second game of the season, offensive efficiency and pace are statistically meaningless, but it will be interesting to monitor as the season progresses. Last year, the Bulls ranked 20th in pace and 10th in offensive efficiency. I would look for the Bulls to be in the top five in both of these categories after the first 20 games.
The Bulls continue their balanced attack, getting double-digit production from six players, including all five starters (Butler, Rose, Gasol, Mirotic, Snell, and Brooks off the bench)
Jimmy Butler is a god, going nine of 11 from the field, including 3/3 from beyond the arc. He turned in an efficient 24 points, six assists, four rebounds, and two steals.
They don’t call him Threekola for nothing – Nikola Mirotic had 18 points and nine rebounds (+30 in his 30 minutes), hitting some big three pointers in the 3rd quarter to help balloon the lead from three at the half to 19 towards the end of the third. The Bulls shot 50% from three (14-28) while the Nets … the Nets didn’t make any (0-9).
The Bulls might get by playing average defense, but if they want to be title contenders they’ll have to be better. Asking Pau to suddenly be a good lateral and help defender is like asking a sieve to not be… well… a sieve. At least he can block a shot or two once in a while.
Derrick had some good flashes tonight going five of 11 with 15 points – most importantly, he was a pretty good distributor, keeping the offense flowing, ball moving, and not taking threes when better options were available. He only attempted one.
Noah and Gibson are still struggling when on the floor together, diminishing the Bulls’ lead and forcing Hoiberg to put starters back in; still, the minutes were down in a good way tonight, Butler leading the way with 34, and the rest of the starters hovering around 30 (Snell, the exception, at 22). With minutes management being the flavor of the day in the NBA, we’ll keep our eye on this metric going forward
Dougie McBuckets McDermott can’t play defense on more than two consecutive possessions. He’s a student of the game, so he may improve on sheer effort and team defense concept, but his quickness probably won’t improve much and will continue to be a liability defensively.
The Nets don’t have a real NY fan base. I sat in the last row of the nosebleeds with all the other Bulls fans (most of whom were international), looking down at the lower bowl, which was nearly empty. It seems most of their attendees are the product of circumstance (“We’re in America! In New York City! Let’s go to a sporting event!”). It’s great for the game of basketball – not so great if you’re a Nets fan who’s hoping to commiserate with other Nets fans about how hopeless your season (franchise) looks.