Bulls vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: Bulls again ride the Nate Robinson coaster

Rob Grabowski - USPresswire

We're just gonna have to find another way to call games 'ugly'. Or, maybe, instead point out only when they're not that way. Aesthetics are not Thibs's concern though, only getting as many Derrick Rose-less wins as possible. So...avert your eyes, I guess. (you also don't want to hear much given the home telecast)

Saturday night was an extreme condition of an opponent not being able to score at all. The TWolves were missing 4 rotation players before the game began, and later in the game Chase Budinger got hurt as well. Dante Cunningham surprised with hitting 5 mid-range jumpers, but there weren't any other unused avenues for the Wolves to do much, most notably a dismal performance by #2 overall pick Derrick Williams. When the Bulls built up to a 7-10 point lead in the middle of the final quarter, it was as good as done.

Obviously it's not just one side that causes a team to score 80 points. Zach Harper waxes poetic as he gives credit to the Bulls defense:

You have a slight chance against the Bulls, offensively. They're going to give you jumpers, and some of those will be open. But like a pack of wild dogs in a Snausage factory, they're going to be swarming you. They contest nearly everything and any time you get an open look against them, you have to make them pay. If you don't, you're wasting a modicum of good scoring opportunities. The way they pressure you is impressive.

It seems like they're asking you to take contested midrange floaters and runners. They attack you on the perimeter to either get you to rush the shot or drive inside. Then once you drive inside, they're pestering you from behind. Maybe they'll poke your dribble away, or clamp down with help and try to strip you of the ball if you panic and bring it down. Or they'll try to bother your pull-up shot from behind. And that's when they've got you.

...

They've drugged you, brought you to a warehouse somewhere deep in the Ukraine and you're chained up for rich men to get their kicks by mutilating your body in the most archaic, gruesome and barbaric of ways. THAT is the Bulls interior defense. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson are just waiting to make a highlight and a spectacle of you. They're just waiting to throw your shot into an unintended direction. When that happens, it leaves you confused as to how you got there and Stacey King starts speaking in tongues because I'm pretty sure what he's babbling isn't coherent.

This is what happened to the Wolves Saturday night. A block party happened in the paint. The Bulls blocked nine shots in the game with six of those coming in the second half.

Offensively, it's just going to be a mixed bag of whoever is hitting that night. Marco Belinelli had his best game as a Bull, his shooting run in the 2nd half putting the Bulls comfortably ahead for good. And it seems to rest especially on Nate Robinson's shoulders, as Thibodeau's PG-centric offense can swing wildly depending on Nate's play. And Nate's play swings wildly as well.

Below is Nate Robinson's stats in wins and losses (click for full view).

Nate_medium

Robinson will still frustrate with the turnovers, but his 18 points won that game Saturday night. And the Bulls have so little margin for error it seems like he can't have a bad game if the Bulls want to win.

With Kirk Hinrich injured, the reliance on Nate Robinson will become even more severe. Marquis Teague did show some NBA-level speed in his first meaningful action this regular season, but he still has a severe limitation being able to do anything productive once he gets past his man. I'm guessing Teague's defensive struggles will keep his minutes low in Thibs-ball, which has a couple central tenets: playing guys who can defend, and playing the guys you want to play a lot. So it may be a lot of Nate Robinson.

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