Tag Archives: Fred Hoiberg

Note-A-Bulls: Bulls stifled as Bench Mob fails to get the job done

Coming in four games over .500, the Bulls looked to provide some cushioning on Wednesday night against the Lakers, with a matchup against Cleveland looming. Despite maintaining a lead through much of the game, the Bulls ultimately let one get away at the Madhouse on Madison. Ultimately, it was a tale of two benches as the Lakers were able to squeeze past the Bulls with contributions from throughout the rotation.

  • With everyone healthy, Hoiberg’s usual lineup of Rondo, Wade, Butler, Gibson, and Lopez started the game off. Despite some sloppy offense, the lineup managed to keep the Bulls ahead by contributing defensively.
  • The Bulls started the game off strong in the 1st quarter. Scoring 28 points and holding the Lakers to 17 would usually be enough for a win. After being up by as many as 14 points, the Bulls looked ready to distance themselves early.
  • With 11 points of cushioning going into the 2nd, the teams switched roles. Twice, the Lakers managed to chip away at the Bulls lead and draw nearly even, before the Bulls distanced themselves to keep it a two possession game. However, the Lakers took one more shot at the Bulls’ lead, leaving Chicago with no time to go back up as the half ended with the score being 47-47.
  • Unclear what the 2nd half held in store, the Bulls got back into form and outscored the Lakers 26-23, to give themselves a small lead, but a lead nonetheless going into the 4th quarter. Taj Gibson quickly snagged four boards, before Hoiberg let Mirotic have the remaining minutes in the quarter.
  • The 4th quarter felt like 12 minutes of Déjà vu. After the Bulls once again had the lead, the Lakers quickly began to chip away, tying or leading the game multiple times. Three times, the Bulls managed to reclaim the lead after surrendering it, but the fourth time was where the buck would stop. After tying the game up at 90 points apiece, the Lakers finished on a 6-0 run to win 96-90.
  • With 10 points, 9 rebounds, and a very impressive 8 blocks, Robin Lopez contributed some much needed support to help the Bulls hold on for most of the game. 
  • In a good illustration of how the game went for Chicago, Taj Gibson had a double-double with 10 rebounds and 11 points. However, he would foul out after some sloppy defensive fouls while matched up with Julius Randle. 
  • Only two bench players played over 20 minutes for the Bulls, Isaiah Canaan and Nikola Mirotic, going a combined 5-18 from the field. Denzel Valentine and Jerian Grant each saw over five minutes of playing time.
  • In another demonstration of just how this game went down, Butler was a brutal 4-18 from the field. On par with the sloppy defense from both sides though, he managed to get 15 shots from the foul line, and would make 13 of those to give him 22 points on the night. 
  • Not surprisingly, each of the Bulls’ starters had at least three fouls for the night, while five Lakers also had at least three fouls as well.  A total of 70 free throws were attempted between the two sides.
  • The bad: The Bulls shot a poor 35% from the field, but an abysmal 19% from beyond the arc on 21 attempts. A large part of this was due to the bench alone going just 1-11 from three-point range.
  • Like the Bulls, the Lakers’ stat sheet was nothing exciting from either side. They went just under 41% from the field, and did themselves few favors by only making 68% of their 41 free throw attempts. The difference maker though, was 36 points from Clarkson and Williams off the bench, each scoring 18, while Nance Jr. added on 12 as well.
  • Despite (ex-Bull?) Jose Calderon starting at point guard, Jordan Clarkson flashed his potential in 34 minutes off the bench. All of his points were scored from the field, with a very impressive 9-18 performance, which the Lakers desperately needed. 
  • Up Next: the Bulls host the reigning champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, on Friday.

Note-A-Bulls: Wade, Bulls, emerge victorious in the 305

After an exciting 3-0 start, reality hit the Bulls with a three game losing streak. Coming off another loss, the Bulls looked to hit back against a respectable Eastern Conference foe, the Miami Heat. Through nine games thus far, the list of guys who have stepped up for the Bulls continues to grow, but perhaps it was the lack of reliance on one guy that helped the Bulls keep the Heat contained through each quarter. Not for a lack of trying, Dwyane Wade failed to make a significant impression in his former home arena.

  • Per usual, Coach Hoiberg sent out Rondo, Wade. Butler, Gibson and Lopez to start things off. While the numbers differed heavily by each frame, the group was able get the job done in a variety of ways.
  • The 1st quarter was a streaky one for the Bulls. Starting down 4-12, the Bulls managed to score 12 unanswered to go up 16-12, and held onto the lead going into the 2nd.
  • Going into the 2nd quarter up one, the game began to take shape as both teams managed to reach the 30-point threshold. Starting out slow again, the Bulls went down seven points early on. Like the first quarter, they grabbed the lead back and would continue going back and forth, eventually heading into the half tied. With limited playing time, Bobby Portis managed to grab a couple of rebounds and make use of his minutes.
  • Coming out of the tunnel tied, the 3rd quarter was a complete 180 for both teams. It was 12 minutes filled with rebounds, fouls and turnovers. It mostly remained a one-possession game throughout, as each team managed to score just 17 points in the 3rd quarter.
  • In the 4th, the Bulls grabbed an early lead and kept their distance for most of the 12 minutes, holding on to win 98-95.
  • I said earlier in the season not to expect Robin Lopez to lead the lineup in rebounds on most nights, as there are a fair share of guys who can step up in that department. Tonight it was Rajon Rondo who hauled in a very impressive 12 boards. While the offense wasn’t particularly efficient, Rondo managed to go 6-14 from the field with 16 points, rounded out by 6 assists.
  • As the season takes shape, Hoiberg continues to stick with his usual game plan of giving Mirotic and McDermott a healthy mix of playing time, while also showing Canaan and Portis to limited action. The bench provided a quiet 25 points, while Doug McDermott saw his playing time reach 33 minutes.
  • Six of the nine players who saw action scored in double digits, while the three who did not (Gibson, Canaan, and Portis) were all held to under 25 minutes.
  • As will be the case throughout the season, we saw both good and bad from Nikola Mirotic. Mirotic had a respectable 10 points and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes, but was not particularly valuable on defense, picking up three fouls.
  • Despite matching up against Hassan Whiteside, who had a great performance logging 20 points and 20 rebounds, Robin Lopez managed to snag 9 boards and a healthy 16 points, leading the Bulls with 20 field goal attempts in 38 minutes.
  • The bad: The Bulls allowed the Heat to shoot around 45% from downtown on 29 three point attempts. Luckily, the Heat only made 2/3rds of their 15 free-throw attempts, and were shaky from inside the 3-point line.
  • As for the Heat, the storyline was similar to the Bulls. Everyone chipped in, but they could not outplay their offensive inconsistencies. Aside from Whiteside’s 20-20 performance, they struggled shooting from the field, and managed to stick around mainly due to their looks behind the arc. They had four players score at least fifteen points, but didn’t receive much otherwise.
  • Justice Winslow showed flashes of growth as he was 50% from the field, with 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, and 15 points. His balance will be something to keep an eye on if the Heat find themselves in the playoff picture as the season progresses.
  • Up Next: the Bulls host the 2-5 Wizards Sunday night. They look to extend their record to 6-4.

Note-A-Bulls: Bulls undefeated season screeches to a halt in Bean-Town

On a night where it seemed like the entire city of Chicago was watching game seven of the world series (including yours truly), the Bulls played their fourth game of the season against the Boston Celtics. This was a big game for the Bulls early on this season, considering that the Celtics are considered to be one of the few teams that have a fighting chance against the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, the Bulls dropped their first game of the season 107-100 in a tightly contested battle that dropped the Bulls to 3-1 on the year.

  • The Bulls starting five were Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Robin Lopez.  At the beginning of the game, both teams looked good as they traded leads throughout the first quarter. Jae Crowder got off to a hot start, where he scored eight of the Celtics’ first 20 points.
  • In addition to Crowder’s solid first quarter, the Celtics broke out late in the first period of play. At the 1:00 minute mark in the first, they led 34-21, and ended up with a lead of 36-25. This was by far the most amount of points the Bulls had allowed in the first quarter this season.
  • However, this Bulls team proved why they are quite different from previous ones. They clawed right back to trim the Celtics lead to three at halftime.  Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with twelve points. Isaiah Thomas had a stellar first half, with fourteen points and seven assists.
  • As the third quarter came to fruition, the Bulls again fell off. Out of all players, Amir Johnson was the player that got hot in the third. At the 1:00 minute mark in the third, he had twenty-two points, while shooting nine of eleven from the floor. The Celtics outscored the Bulls 26-18 in the third quarter.
  • While David Ross became the oldest player to hit a home run in game seven world series history, this game got tight. That was really the moment where the Celtics took firm control of the game as well. Boston really proved why they are one of the more balanced teams in the league, with a strong focus on offense. Despite having no Al Horford tonight, their offense was very efficient at finding the open player on the court.
  • However unfortunate the first loss of the year for the Bulls may be, they still showed why this year is going to be different. The offense has been electric through the first four games of the season, which is a very positive thing. Hoiberg was brought in for his offensive instruction, and now in year two it seems to be working. We are still only four games in, but this has to promising.
  • Up Next: The Bulls take on the Knicks tomorrow night, as Derrick Rose returns to Chicago for the first time since signing with the Knicks. One of the larger storylines will be his introduction tomorrow night. Personally, I hope that he will have a nice ovation. Rose’s story is one of the more depressing stories to come out of Chicago sports, something he really couldn’t control.

Note-A-BULLs: Chicago Bulls Take Season Opener Against Celtics

In case you missed it, this off-season, the Bulls ditched Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, and Joakim Noah, and replaced them with The Big Three (lol) of Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, and Robin Lopez (… no, you’re thinking of Brook Lopez. Almost the same thing). The arrival of these three is in line with the plan to get younger, faster, more athletic, and complement Fred Hoiberg’s patented Hoiball TM. Well, alright, not exactly. Ok, not at all. But maybe they can be good anyway because getting into the playoffs is fun. Let’s break down the Bulls home opener as they move to 1-0 on the season (undefeated!).

  • The Bulls’ offense looks about the same as it did last year whenever Pau Gasol wasn’t in the game: a series of dribble hand-offs around the perimeter, followed up by a drive baseline with the defense icing, and kicked for a contested three. Oh, and the occasional back-cut alley oop from the top of the key to Jimmy Butler. But, this year we get to mix in some Rajon Rondo passing magic, and some Dwyane Wade threes (you heard me right), which is exciting.
  • The Bulls led by as many as 15 in this game, with a starting five of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Robin Lopez. The Celtics went on a 14-3 run to open the third quarter and cut it to one, taking a small lead later on in the period, before the Bulls responded with a run of their own to regain and extend the lead to six, ending the third quarter.
  • They started the fourth with the hodge podge of Wade, Michael Carter-Williams (MCW), Lopez, Nikola Mirotic, and Doug McDermott. And as these NBA games tend to go, unless you stomp on a team’s throat when they’re down, they won’t go away. The Bulls went on a 9-0 run in the fourth to take a 95-81 lead, but the Celtics did not go away, and the Bulls could only score four points over the next five minutes to allow the Celtics back into this one with an 11-0 run of their own. But Wade had the answer with a step-back three to seal the game late; the final: 105-99.
  • I made fun of the Bulls for having Dwyane Wade as one of their main three point threats, and I will continue to do so. But tonight, he made me look foolish (last year he was 7/44). He was 4/6 from beyond the arc- one, a desperation shot as the shot clock wound down, and one, a clutch three ball to lock up the game. He had 22 points and five assists, leading the team with a +15 in 32 minutes.
  • The Bulls made seven three pointers in the first half, one of which was a Butler buzzer beater as the half expired on a pull up three. He’s still settling for step-back threes – perhaps a bad habit hangover from last year. He had 24 points in 36 minutes on 6/17 from the field, but was 4/6 on the three ball and got to the line 12 times, knocking down eight.
  • Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder got into a scuffle when JB tried to take a charge from Crowder, then tripped Crowder as they got their legs entangled. Jae put the ball on Jimmy’s chest, and a technical foul was issued to both players, as well as ones on Isaiah Thomas and Rajon Rondo for getting in the mix as well. Much ado about nothing, let’s play basketball. All of this was strange, considering Butler and Crowder were teammates at Marquette. Some people might pat Butler on the back for having some fire in the home opener, but I thought the tripping was kind of petty.
  • Taj Gibson was a nice threat inside; his footwork looks improved from last year, posting 18 points on 8/13, and 10 rebounds for a nice double-double.
  • Rajon Rondo still can’t shoot – four points on 1/9 shooting, but he’s not here for that. He had nine assists and six boards.
  • Butler, Wade, and Rondo led the team in minutes. I’m not sure how sustainable that’s going to be with the latter two going forward, but Jimmy has proven he can handle the work load.
  • Doug McDermott was a non-factor in this game, shooting 2-5 with five points, and was scoreless from outside in 21 minutes.
  • Mirotic still not getting calls on the defensive end. Noteworthy? Probably not. But I noted it. He had 15 points on 6/11 shooting, but was a paltry 1/6 from deep.
  • MCW had one small flurry of good play coupled with a bit of unorganized mess, which is par for the course, given that he was the least efficient player in the NBA as a rookie two seasons ago, despite being Rookie of the Year (basically, he was the only offensive option on a crappy team and had a lot of points as a result).
  • Robin Lopez played too, I think… right? *Checks box score* Yep, he was there. He played 27 minutes.
  • The Bulls ran out 16 five-man lineups tonight. The one that had the most success (+11 in over 12 minutes): the starting five. The one with the least success (-5): Butler, MCW, Lopez, Mirotic, Rondo. Fortunately, that lineup only played for about a minute and a half.
  • A word about the Celtics: they had a lot of energy tonight, but looked a little disheveled on defense, which is strange for a team that was fourth in defensive efficiency last year. After adding Al Horford and Amir Johnson into the mix, I would imagine it will take them a couple weeks to get into a groove. Expect this team to be tough.
  • Up Next: The Bulls welcome Paul George and the Pacers to the United Center on Saturday night in a heavyweight matchup of undefeated teams.

Bad news Bulls

In what’s been a well-documented flurry of moves this offseason, the Bulls have gone from faux Championship contenders that couldn’t even make the playoffs to a group of old, run down has-beens. What Gar Forman and John Paxson tried to sell as a move for the future (excuse me, what?) is really just a sorry attempt at trying to put butts in the seats with names like Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, and Robin Lopez in the starting squad alongside Chicago crowd favorites Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson. GarPax could arguably get a pass for last year’s disaster, since it seemed like the plan in hiring Fred Holberg was to get younger. Instead, they traded in parts for a used car – one that might get you halfway there before stalling out and breaking down.

The Bulls will not only fail to make the playoffs once again, but will fail to beat the Vegas over/under of 38.5 wins. You might be scratching your head saying “Hold up, hold up, D Wade just finally came home to Chicago, had a great year last year, we got Rondo who’s one of the best passers in the league, both have won championships, and we got RoLo, who’s an underrated defender, and we got new young talent like Denzel Valentine, Spencer Dinwiddie, Isaiah Canaan. Plus, we got Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio, and Tony Snell coming back. Finally, we have a couple shooters in Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. How can you say the Bulls won’t make the playoffs much less win 39 games?” I’m glad you asked! Let me break it down for you…

Hoiberg’s Offense

If Bulls’ head coach Fred Hoiberg couldn’t get last year’s Bulls with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Pau Gasol to run an effective offense, he certainly won’t have any luck with this crew, who is hobbling on just as many bad knees. Hoiberg’s scheme works best with quick outlets and fast breaks, three-and-D shooters, and early screens to open up the floor. It requires agility and athleticism combined with sharp shooters. If what I just described doesn’t sound like the new version of the Bulls, it’s because it isn’t. Last year, the Bulls’ offensive efficiency was abysmal, ranking 25th in the league, and I have a hard time seeing it get much better this year with a slew of inexperience combined with guys in wheelchairs. McDermott will continue to shoot well, but Nikola still struggles with the pace of an NBA game and hits the three ball less than 40% of the time – not what you want to see from one of your supposed sharp shooters. The Bulls have reportedly encouraged Wade to shoot more threes, so let’s just put it this way: when one of your three-point threats is Dwyane Wade, you’ve got other issues you’re trying to hide.

Bulls Defense

The Bulls were unremarkably average last year. Their defensive efficiency ranked 15th in the league. It might make sense that the Bulls would get slightly better this year now that Pau Gasol is off the floor, replaced by Robin Lopez. However, opponents’ ORtg against the Knicks went up by 1.9 with Lopez *on* the floor, compared to Gasol, who made opponents 1.3 points *worse* when he was on the floor – a three point swing. Add to it Rondo and Wade, who allow 1.7 and an astounding 6.1 additional points for their opponents, respectively, compared to Derrick Rose’s poor, but not D Wade-poor, 4.1. The Bulls defense is in trouble. Expect their defensive efficiency to be in the bottom third of the league this year.

VORP (Value Over Replacement Player)

If the Bulls’ offense could overcome their imminent defensive struggles, then the team might fare okay and be about a break-even squad. VORP might be the one area you could argue that they’ll win some extra games, if you break down each star player that was dished compared to the one brought in: Pau Gasol ranked 17th in the league with a VORP of 3.5, as much as he was picked on last year, Derrick Rose: -0.7 (yeah, yikes), Joakim Noah: 0.6 – for a sum total of 3.4; whereas, Rajon Rondo: 1.9, Robin Lopez: 1.9, and Dwyane Wade: 1.6 for a total of 5.4. Multiply the difference in VORP (2.0) by 2.7 to achieve Wins Above Replacement and you might come to figure that the Bulls will win an extra 5.4 games this year, putting them at what would be 47 wins compared to last year’s 42, and enough for the playoffs. But that assumes no decline among Rondo and Wade who are both over the hump, and it also assumes one more massive and glaring problem that the Bulls have:

The (Not) Bench Mob

What bench does this team have? The Bulls have a rotation of about eight guys that they can sort of count on for 25-30 minutes. Butler, Rondo, Wade, Lopez, Gibson, McDermott, Mirotic (one, two, three…. seven) – make that seven guys that they can sort of count on. They *might* be alright for 30 minutes per game, but they’re going to get crushed for the other 18, and like Tom Thibodeau used to suggest: You have to play all 48 minutes if you want to win. Valentine, Walkup, Portis, Grant, MCW – they’ll have their moments, but they’re all going to need some time to grow and it won’t come together before the Bulls are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. If this team sees an injury to any of their main rotation players, which isn’t that unlikely considering their ages, then you might as well write this season off completely.

GarPax: If you’re going to break it up, tear it down. Instead, the Bulls broke it up and replaced it with crappier parts in an effort to limp into the playoffs for a first round exit.