So if you're like me and merely half-watched this game at best due to the World Series (of the baseball), you half-missed a pretty outstanding performance by the undefeated Chicago Bulls.
They absolutely throttled the visiting Indiana Pacers 118-101, in a game where the 4th quarter was extended garbage time, though it also meant NBA debuts of Denzel Valentine and Paul Zipser.
This contest was effectively out of reach after the Bulls bench (!) unit of MCW/Wade/McDermott/Mirotic/Felicio went on a 16-0 run featuring a ton of fast break points.
- Wade coast-to-coast
- Doug coast-to-coast
- Niko and-one layup from Doug
- Doug transition corner 3
- MCW Steal to Doug Layup
That last one was the Pacers turnover in that time offensively, so it's pretty fun that the Bulls were making all these fast break plays off of misses, and with a Wade-MCW backcourt.
Rondo also got in the act when it came to finding guys down the court.
All part of a 30-14 edge in fast break points for the game.
This was a decidedly different offensive flow than the one that beat the Celtics in the opener. This game saw fewer unlikely threes (Wade+Butler+Rondo+MCW were 0-4 total) and more from the likely suspects, as McDermott was a stellar 5-6 from three for a game-high 23 points (had a block AND a steal, too!), and Isiah Canaan chipped in with making 3-5 from distance.
What was the same from the first night was a dominance in the rebounding category, going over 34% offensive rebounding rate for the second straight game and holding the Pacers to under 20% (not quite as severe a defensive-boards beatdown as the one against Boston, but still impressive).
The Bulls also flexed their way to another gaudy FT advantage, attempting 21 to the Pacers 9. Wade led going 6-6, followed by Butler and MCW getting to the line for 4 attempts each. Butler in particular seems to be especially amiable to just throwing himself into traffic when a possession has gone bad. Which is effective as long as he doesn’t get himself whacked too many times.
The Pacers were pretty much toast after that big 2nd quarter run, though they had a decent night themselves shooting the three they could not stop the bleeding enough to get the game even near single-digits until garbage time. Part of it may be the early-season back-to-back (Bulls 2-0 in schedule breaks, hey, take advantage when you can) but in what was my preseason worry for the Bulls should’ve applied to Indiana as well: they sacrificed some defense in the offseason letting go of George Hill, Ian Mahimni, and coach Frank Vogel. And they have a poor bench (Rodney Stuckey and old pal Aaron Brooks were out for them in this game, but they’re no great shakes). While their offense has more shooters and Myles Turner looks like a potential all-star, their effort defensively looked really bad against the runnin’ gunnin’ Bulls in this one.
And while we’re already re-evaluating preseason expectations, is it time to do so for the Bulls? They look like they have a formula to win games surrounded by utilizing their size/strength advantage, and while not playing especially fast (27th in pace after 2 games) show they will run when they can. It’s been a fantastic offense and a good-enough defense, both statuses being something I didn’t anticipate.
But nah, I wouldn’t worry about the Bulls being good quite yet. It’s too much to bear. But that said, only have to go 38-42 the rest of the way to hit the 40-win mark. And they have a good chance to start the season 3-0 after a game in Brooklyn Monday.