To be honest, Saturday night's 111-80 beat down of the New York Knicks was pretty straight forward. The Bulls played good. The Knicks are a dumpster fire. Your standard stuff. But, as always, Second Chance Points is here to glean a few observations. Fortunately, we're keeping it short and sweet. And we're mostly sticking to things the Bulls did because I can only say 'holy crap, the Knicks are positively awful' so many different ways. So, without further ado, here are five observations from the weekend that I'd like to share with you.
1) Niko is not your typical Euro
A big pet peeve of mine is when someone will lazily slap the soft tag on a European player. I mean, it's just a dumb stereotype that's often misplaced due to word of mouth carrying more weight than it should. But I think anyone that's watched Nikola Mirotic this season -- or in the Euroleague for that matter -- would tell you that Niko handles contact well. He doesn't shy away from it, and in the clip above, Niko straight bullied Ricky Ledo. And Ledo's not some tiny guard, either. He's 6-foot-7. So while finesse is certainly a large part of Niko's game, anyone who gets to the free throw line as often as Mirotic does enjoys contact. Or at the very least, embraces it.
2) Pau Gasol tip in
In the picture above, all four Bulls aside from Pau Gasol are in the screen. Kirk Hinrich (1), after receiving a wonderful cross-court pass from Mirotic (4), is just about to release a three-point attempt from the corner. After he proceeds to shoot, Kirk's shot caroms hard off the rim towards the paint, and lo and behold:
There's Pau for the tip in! (Sorry if it's kind of difficult to tell, but trust me, it's Pau.) Pau had barely crossed half court by the time this shot was in the air, yet he's the guy who winds up with the two points. This play is Pau's season in a nutshell to me: he's equal parts fortunate and good. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that. Pau's a big reason why this has been the most watchable Bulls team in years.
3) Jimmy G. Butler and the G stands for Gets Steals
Jimmy's an all-world defender. However, what makes him so special is that he's one of those rare elite defenders who can collect steals without compromising the rest of the defense. What Jimmy does just about as well as anybody in the league is play passing lanes, and on Saturday he was an absolute menace. His timing looked pristine, which is something I wrote about prior to the Knick game. So it was great to see Jimmy look like himself again.
Oh, and one more small thing, we might need to make #LetJimmyBeHarden a thing again soon.
4) What the hell are the Knicks doing on offense?
Much has been made about New York running the triangle offense this season. And on the one hand, the players try really hard to run it. On the other hand, though, it feels like the Knicks are operating under the assumption that they're playing with a 35-second shot clock. Like -- at least on Saturday, which seemed like a microcosm of their season -- they rarely seemed ready to shoot by the end of the 24 seconds on the shot clock. They either needed more time or acted as if the shot clock wasn't something they were working against. It was truly bizarre.
They run offense too mechanical. There's zero flow. There's constant apprehensiveness. Nobody knows where the shot is going to come from, and they almost run into decent (?) shots by accident because defenses are content letting them fire away from mid-range. In fact, nobody in the league has taken more mid-range shots this season than New York has. That, of course, is not ideal.
Why? Why do the Bulls insist on throwing so many damn lobs? They ran / threw nine of them on Saturday night and successfully completed all of two. And another two were bad passes bailed out by fouls, too. I honestly don't understand why a team that doesn't play above-the-rim, by any means, continues to act like they're the Clippers.