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Early trouble signs

I'm writing this as the Bulls go to into halftime of their latest preseason game against Boston down 49-46. Nothing too alarming in that, but what is of concern is that again the Bulls started out very poorly. In the first quarter tonight they were outscored 30-19, following a 27-18 1st quarter deficit in Monday's game against the Timberwolves.

Last season the Bulls liked to work Eddy Curry into the offense early. For whatever reason, he seemed to respond (or his opponents failed to adequately defend) in the opening minutes of both halves. Now that he's a Knick, in the early going of both games this week the Bulls turned to Chandler to fill this role instead of his better suited frontcourt counterpart Michael Sweetney.

Monday vs. MIN

(12:00) Chandler Jump Ball Chandler vs Garnett
(11:39) [CHI] Chandler Jump Shot: Missed
(11:37) [MIN] Garnett Rebound (Off:0 Def:1)
(11:16) [MIN] Frahm Jump Shot: Missed
(11:07) [CHI] Gordon Rebound (Off:0 Def:1)
(11:02) [CHI] Hinrich Turnover: Bad Pass (1 TO) Steal: Garnett (1 ST)
(10:58) [MIN 2-0] Frahm Layup Shot: Made (2 PTS) Assist: Garnett (1 AST)
(10:36) [CHI 2-2] Chandler Jump Shot: Made (2 PTS)
(10:04) [MIN 4-2] Garnett Jump Shot: Made (2 PTS) Assist: Frahm (1 AST)
(9:45) [CHI 4-4] Chandler Driving Layup: Made (4 PTS) Assist: Hinrich (1 AST)
(9:35) [MIN] Garnett Jump Shot: Missed
(9:32) [CHI] Deng Rebound (Off:0 Def:1)
(9:28) [CHI] Gordon Jump Shot: Missed
(9:26) [MIN] Olowokandi Rebound (Off:0 Def:1)
(9:18) [CHI] Chandler Foul: Personal (1 PF)
(9:12) [MIN 6-4] Carter Jump Shot: Made (2 PTS) Assist: Garnett (2 AST)
(8:54) [MIN] Frahm Foul: Personal (1 PF)
(8:38) [CHI] Hinrich Jump Shot: Missed
(8:36) [MIN] Garnett Rebound (Off:0 Def:2)
(8:28) [CHI] Sweetney Foul: Shooting (1 PF)
(8:28) [MIN 7-4] Olowokandi Free Throw 1 of 2 (1 PTS)
(8:28) [MIN 8-4] Olowokandi Free Throw 2 of 2 (2 PTS)
(8:16) [CHI] Sweetney Foul: Offensive (2 PF)
(8:16) [CHI] Sweetney Turnover: Foul (1 TO)
(8:16) [CHI] Sweetney Substitution replaced by Songaila

Wednesday @ BOS

12:00 Start of the 1st Quarter.
12:00 0-0 Jumpball: Tyson Chandler vs. Mark Blount. Delonte West gains possession.
11:47 0-2 Mark Blount made jumper. Assisted by Paul Pierce.
11:30 Tyson Chandler missed 18 ft jumper. 0-2
11:27 0-2 Paul Pierce defensive rebound.
11:07 0-2 Raef LaFrentz missed 23 ft jumper.
11:04 Mike Sweetney defensive rebound. 0-2
11:00 Luol Deng missed 15 ft jumper. 0-2
10:59 0-2 Mark Blount defensive rebound.
10:44 0-2 Ricky Davis missed 17 ft jumper.
10:41 Kirk Hinrich defensive rebound. 0-2
10:38 0-2 Raef LaFrentz Shooting Foul. His 1st Personal Foul.
10:38 Tyson Chandler made Free Throw 1 of 2. 1-2
10:38 Tyson Chandler missed Free Throw 2 of 2. 1-2
10:37 1-2 Mark Blount defensive rebound.
10:18 1-2 Ricky Davis missed 16 ft jumper.
10:15 Mike Sweetney defensive rebound. 1-2
10:04 Ben Gordon missed 25 ft three point jumper. 1-2
10:03 1-2 Mark Blount defensive rebound.
9:55 1-4 Paul Pierce made driving layup.
9:37 Tyson Chandler missed 15 ft jumper. 1-4
9:36 1-4 Raef LaFrentz defensive rebound.
9:30 1-4 Ricky Davis Bad Pass. Stolen by Mike Sweetney.
9:15 1-4 Delonte West Shooting Foul. His 1st Personal Foul.
9:15 Kirk Hinrich made Free Throw 1 of 2. 2-4
9:15 Kirk Hinrich made Free Throw 2 of 2. 3-4
9:10 Mike Sweetney Personal Foul. His 1st Personal Foul. 3-4
9:04 Ben Gordon Personal Foul. His 1st Personal Foul. 3-4
8:51 3-4 Paul Pierce missed 4 ft jumper.
8:48 3-4 Boston offensive rebound.
8:45 3-6 Mark Blount made 18 ft jumper. Assisted by Ricky Davis.
8:18 Mike Sweetney made 4 ft two point shot. 5-6
8:10 Othella Harrington enters the game for Mike Sweetney. 5-6

While I'm sure Chandler has worked hard on his offensive game this summer and wants to show it off, I would rather see Sweetney be the first option when establishing a post presence for the offense early. I'm not going to go as far as borrowing Knickerblogger's 'Free Sweetney' sign to bring to the United Center just yet, especially since Sweetney doesn't appear to be looking for the ball early either. Whether that tentativeness is due to his adaptation to a new team, or if he's just not used to being a primary option, hopefully Skiles finds a way for Sweets to replace the departed Curry's best attribute: getting the team off to better offensive starts.

Sure they manage to overcome these starts in preseason and get back into games, but a lot of that may be due to the Bulls deeper bench and relentless defense and hustle being able to outman their opponents' counterparts. When the season comes and rotations shorten and the discrepancy in intensity (doesn't it seem the Bulls try harder than other teams in preseason? Not that it's a bad thing...) isn't as great, it'll be harder and harder to come back from these awful starts.