Monday night's game in Philadelphia didn't do all that much to ease the early season concerns surrounding the Bulls. Much of the offensive and defensive issues that have marred Chicago thus far reared their ugly head(s) once more against a lowly Sixers squad. But the Bulls did what they needed to do and took care of business in end.
Prior to the game tipping off it appeared as though Fred Hoiberg was going to run with the often-maligned Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol duo. However, Noah apparently tweaked something in his surgically repaired left knee (also the one he awkwardly fell on in Denver during preseason) during warmups and sat due to "knee soreness." How serious it is, is unknown as of now, but it's definitely a subject to keep an eye on.
The game began in a back and forth affair, with the Sixers scoring 10 of their first 12 points in the paint or at the free throw line. After two quick fouls on Doug McDermott, who was guarding Jerami Grant, Tony Snell entered and thus the Bulls proceeded to go on a 20-4 run in four minutes to put themselves up 15.
We pause for a DOUG MCDERMOTT DUNK ALERT:
(In a perfect world R. Kelly's 'I Believe I Can Fly' is playing while this happens.)
And ever so promptly, once the full bench unit came in, through the end of the first quarter into the start of the second, gave up their very own 20-4 run to Philly. During said run, which featured the Sixers grab a brief lead, the Bulls went 1-17 from the field. Sound familiar? Although once the starters came back in, the Bulls went on a 15-3 run sparked by Derrick Rose and Gasol, ending the half up nine, 52-43.
In the third quarter Rose took over, controlling the offensive side of things as the Bulls continued to extend their lead. Chicago ended the quarter up 14, 76-62, and eventually put things away once the fourth quarter started, winning in the end 111-88. It wasn't a case of the Bulls playing extremely well, just Chicago having more overall talent in the grand scheme of things, as Cody Westerlund of CBS Chicago so eloquently put it:
It feels like the #Bulls are winning this game simply by a war of attrition of less badness.— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) November 10, 2015
Overall, there were some good things that happened tonight. Rose had an extremely well-played game from an offensive standpoint. He controlled the offense, getting into the lane, in turn collapsing the defense and finding the open shooters. Moreover, his shot selection was fairly good as well, using that pull-up bank shot from 15 feet on multiple possessions. Rose ended the game with 12 points, seven assists, five boards and only two turnovers.
As for Jimmy Butler, he wasn't very assertive in looking for his shot tonight, only taking six field goals total. He did end the game with a +29, six boards and five assists, but you still want him taking more than six shots, no matter who the opponent is on that given night.
Nikola Mirotic missed 18 of his last 19 three's before finally nailing one. Mirotic essentially shot himself out of his funk tonight, which is good and bad at the same time considering his questionable shot selection. He was forcing things quite a bit offensively in the first half and most of the third quarter. Though towards the end of the third, Niko finally got things going from outside and around the rim. Hoisting 28 footers is still an issue for him, but overall Niko ended the night 6-11 from the field, 3-7 from deep, with 20 points and 10 boards.
Other Notes and Thoughts:
- Very rarely does Aaron Brooks look for anyone else's shot but his own. While Fred's offense does cater to his speed and ability to get his own shot, it's almost to a fault too. It's not very often we see Brooks using his advantages in Fred's offense to create for others. Point being, you'd like to see him create for others, not just himself.
- Transition defense continues to be a really big issue for the Bulls. Too many times this season we've seen opposing teams with guys streaking down court with no Bull in sight. There's no reason Chicago shouldn't have at least one person back at all times, it's a simplistic part of basketball.
- Finally, McDermott and Snell are doing exactly what they need to be doing offensively and that's making shots and spreading the floor. McDermott has tied a Bulls record (Kirk Hinrich back in 04-05) for three's through the first eight games of the season, with 19 total. He's shooting 19-33 from deep for 57.6%, while Snell, who's played much better these last couple of games, is shooting 13-27 from deep for 48%.
Chicago has four days off before they get a rematch with the Charlotte Hornets Friday night at 7pm.