A day after facing the Cleveland Cavaliers B-team, the Chicago Bulls decided to do the same against the Milwaukee Bucks. Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler didn’t even make the trip to the Bradley Center. Rajon Rondo was held out for resting purposes. Robin Lopez, Doug McDermott, and Nikola Mirotic all came off the bench.
Chicago rolled out the lineup of Isaiah Cannan, Jerian Grant, Paul Zipser, Bobby Portis, and Cristiano Felicio. Against a Bucks team that play most of its starters, it looked like it would be a loss tonight for the Bulls. Yet that wasn’t the case as Chicago ended up winning by 21 points in a 107-86 win. Here are three takeaways from this game.
1. Another big game from Doug McDermott
If there has been a positive in terms of player improvement this preseason, it has to be Doug McDermott. He has looked way more comfortable in his role this season and his defense is getting better as well. McDermott is one of the only consistent three-point threats on the Bulls roster so a lot hinges on him shooting well from deep. He did just that, hitting four of seven from 3-point land. McDermott also grabbed five rebounds in his 36 minutes of action.
After struggling for the first two years in Chicago, McDermott has made some positive changes to his game. Showing more effort on defense, rebounding, and even showing some willingness to attack the rim on occasion. Given the state of the Bulls bench, McDermott holds a key role when it comes to their production. He could be a bright spot for the Bulls.
2. Chicago dominating on the glass
Given how bad the Bulls defense has been so far this season, its key that they don’t allow their opponents extra possessions. Most of that comes off of controlling the glass and rebounding. The Bulls were a +14 on the glass tonight, grabbing 48 boards compared to the 34 of Milwaukee. Robin Lopez led the way with 11 rebounds, Bobby Portis had 10, and Cristiano Felicio added 8.
Chicago will need to get a lot better on the defensive end if they want to win a considerable amount of games. Rebounding is a key part of that. If the Bulls can control the glass with Lopez, Portis, and Taj Gibson it can help lessen the defensive burden. It will also allow Chicago to push out in transition, which is something Fred Hoiberg wants and the Bulls are capable of doing.
3. The backup point guard battle is still wide open
Coming into this game, there was a three headed battle for the backup point guard spot. With Rondo out tonight, it was up to Spencer Dinwiddie, Isaiah Canaan, and Jerian Grant to step up and show they are worthy of the backup role. But at the end of the night, the Bulls were right back where they started in terms of that battle. All three of them showed reasons as to why or why not they should be on the roster.
Canaan had a game-high 26 points on 8 of 13 shooting from the field with five three-pointers. While he certainly displayed his ability to be an offensive spark, Canaan still is very inconsistent when it comes to shooting the ball. Plus his defense looks like it will be a liability. Grant had a decent night as well, but still showed that he doesn’t have the point guard position down in terms of running the offense, despite seven assists. As for Dinwiddie, while he seems the most likely to get cut considering his contract, he actually has given the most reason as to why he should win the spot. He’s not overly terrible on defense, using his long arms to his advantage. But his offensive game is not as good as the other two.
With the news of Michael Carter-Williams coming to Chicago, this just adds to an overcrowded backcourt. If you thought things weren’t messy now, just wait till the Bulls put MCW in the rotation.