The Bulls were handed a devastating four point loss by the Wizards to end their 12 game preseason winning streak and crushing their preseason title aspirations. Just kidding. Although they did lose. However, it was a really positive opening game for Coach Thibs and co. Let’s break it down
- Derrick Rose looked great. After last year’s extremely encouraging preseason and subsequently sloppy start to the regular season, I won’t be fooled. Still, this is much much preferred to a Rose who looks visibly rusty. Derrick was 4/7 for 11 points in his 14 minute first half stint. He even knocked down a nice three pointer to quell some of the doubt after his 1/19 performance from behind the line in Spain. Rose and Joakim Noah (coming off offseason knee surgery) both sat out the second half and are questionable for tonight (precautionary reasons).
- The rookies are here. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic got plenty of minutes in this one, and they made the most of it. McBuckets chipped in eight points on just four shots while Mirotic stole the show in the second half. First he drained two beautiful catch and shoot three pointers. To take thing to another level, Mirotic, a 6’9″ power forward, brought the ball up in transition and drained a three off the dribble. Simply put, it was fucking Dirk-esque.
- Paul Pierce remains the best. I wanted to actually hate Paul Pierce, but it’s just too fun to enjoy hating him. Pierce clotheslined Jimmy Butler to stop a fast break and was relentlessly running his mouth to Butler during the break. Pierce then poked Joakim Noah in the face when he came over, causing an NBA brawl (no punches thrown). Then, later that night, I’m told from two different sources, Paul Pierce hit up the Horseshoe Casino after the game for some Omaha before finishing at the casino’s bar. I love Paul Pierce.
- Pau Gasol > Carlos Boozer. Pau wasn’t spectacular, but his line in this game shows the potential he has to offer a lot more than Carlos Boozer. Gasol had eight points, eight rebounds, two steals and three blocks in limited minutes. Pau is pretty old, and Thibs could ride him hard. If he can stay healthy, the Bulls will love having the veteran Spaniard.
- Gibson and Hinrich first off the bench. Shocker here. Thibs brought Taj and Kirk in for Jo and Derrick about midway through the first quarter. While Thibs “nine man rotation” is hardly set in stone at this point, you can expect these two to be the first guys off the bench pretty much all season.
- Depth is crazy. The Bulls have generally had deep teams under Thibs, partly because he’s so good at turning scrubs into legit defenders and former valet drivers into back-up point guards. This year, however, may be the deepest. With a legit two players at each position, Thibs has an embarrassment of riches. With everyone healthy, Thibodeau has four legit big men. While it may be his preference to work Mirotic in slowly, Thibs will find the minutes for the 23 year old if he shoots like he did last night. Aaron Brooks will push for minutes as well as a legit scoring guard. Tony Snell, who last year was pressed into starting duty several times, barely sniffed the floor. I don’t see much of a future for him in Chicago.
- The Bulls play the Pistons at 6:30 CT on NBATV tonight. Check it out. Stan Van Gundy is at the helm in Detroit now, so things are looking up. Rose should play, but even if he doesn’t, it’s surprisingly exciting to get a look at the new guys in the fold.