During one of the most dysfunctional times in recent Bulls history, the new laughing stock of the NBA had to go back to the drawing board and hit the floor against a depleted Miami Heat team. The Bulls played like a team tonight with no purpose, and with 3 outspoken players telling the truth about an organization that just can’t seem to get anything to go their way, their concerns were on full display tonight. From large turnover numbers, an inability to make shots, and a continued stagnation on offense and lack of effort defensively, the now 23-25 Bulls will look to regroup, as they handed Miami their 6th win in a row.
- As punishment for their comments earlier in the week, Jimmy Butler and Dywane Wade were both benched by Fred Hoiberg for the first portion of the first quarter. Paul Zipser and Doug McDermott took their place in the starting lineup.
- While in-experienced, the starting lineup including the “young” Bulls was enjoyable to watch and dissect. Without the “me” first players in Rondo, Wade and Butler, the Bulls looked like they were trying to run an offensive system. Players were moving without the ball, cutting to the basket and utilizing the pick and roll. However, when the veterans did end up coming into the game, the offense slowed again, off-the-ball movement stopped and Miami was off to the races. Doug McDermott became a forgotten man, an all too common mistake by the Bulls’ offensive game plan.
- The Goran Dragic from the Derrick Rose poster-dunk has in fact turned into a nice NBA point guard, and it showed tonight. Dragic finished the night with 26 points and 11 assists and was in full command of a fast-paced Miami offense.
- The quickness of Miami was thanks to the turnover numbers the Bulls gave up. The Heat scored 26 points on 20 turnovers by the Bulls. On the other hand, the Bulls only scored 8 points off of 12 Heat turnovers. Even when the Bulls grabbed a steal or had a nice block, there was no urgency on the fast break down the floor. Miami took full advantage of a slow Bulls’ defense, and the points off of turnovers were one of the key components in the loss. The Bulls scored their first points off of a turnover at the 10:28 mark in the 4th quarter.
- The Bulls never pushed the ball up the floor when they had the chance to do so. Miami did push the ball, both on turnovers and regular offensive possessions, which proved to be one of the key differences in the game.
- After a controversial week for Jimmy Butler, the Bulls’ star did not back up his talking points, finishing the game 1-13 from the field for just 3 points and checked himself out of the game early on after picking up his second foul against the Heat. Not a great showing for the team “leader.”
- The Heat had a quick first step on offense while the Bulls continued to stand around the perimeter when the likes of Wade and Butler checked into the game.
- The Bulls kept it close enough in the 1st quarter behind Paul Zipser’s 12 first half points, and found themselves even at the half 53-53.
- But throughout the first half, the lack of scoring options on both teams was evident, especially for the Bulls. The Bulls were in fact able to get open shots, but continued to miss-fire.
- The 2nd half was not a great story for the Bulls, as the criticisms surrounding their effort showed themselves again. Dwyane Wade failed to prove his critics wrong, as he was lackadaisical once again on defense by getting back on defense slowly and not being able to stick with his man.
- This proved to be a constant theme for the Bulls tonight, as Miami, through the great play of Goran Dragic, sliced and diced the defense for wide open layups, or kick-outs for un-contested three point shots.
- Also missing in this game was proper scouting and in –game adjustments. The Bulls played a Miami team missing Hassan Whiteside, had the height advantage in the paint and did not take enough advantage. The Bulls should’ve given the ball to Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez every chance they had and did not. The two combined only for 21 points.
- Miami also took advantage of the Bulls inability to stay with their man defensively, mainly the glaring gaps in the Bulls’ defense when the Heat ran the high pick and roll. This should’ve been something corrected at halftime and never was.
- Towards the end of the 3rd quarter the Bulls were 2/14 from the field, showing again their lack of scoring options.
- Miami’s Wayne Ellington is an average NBA player at best, but when facing the Bulls, he found himself wide open, and hit his shots, totaling 14 points. While he didn’t have the best shooting percentage from the field, he contributed in a way one would expect Nikola Mirotic to contribute for the Bulls, yet he finished with 1 point in 15 minutes of play.
- The always entertaining Rajon Rondo finished with 13 points, trying to gain the Bulls trust back, or chose to play well against the Heat to showcase himself for the next team he will be playing for come February.
The final thought in this game is once again the lack of a consistent rotation. Hoiberg has chosen to incorporate Paul Zipser into his lineup, which has been surprisingly beneficial. However, his inconstant use of Bobby Portis and rookie 1st round pick Denzel Valentine does nothing for their development and rapport with the team. While “resting” Wade a few days a week is unacceptable in my book, the idea of trotting out different rotations, with Wade, without Wade, with Portis, without Portis etc, doesn’t allow the team to grow. And for Denzel Valentine to not play on this team speaks volumes to his development as well as the misguided idea by management that this team is a contender this season. Letting the kids play and develop is the only way for the Bulls’ to get better and build a bright future.
- Up next, the Bulls host the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night at the U.C.