[A very special game preview from a BaB reader all the way from Hungary. (sign up, BTW) -yfbb]
Being a Bulls fan can be lonely. Add Hungary as your place of living, and it’s a desert island with no food, a lot of rain and occasional images of LeBron James holding trophies drawn into the sand. Basketball is really unimportant here, and the sole reason why most people know a more recent Chicago major sports player than Jordan is that Kornel David is still the only guy who’s ever played in the NBA. We kinda knew he sucked, but liked him anyway.
I got League Pass for a couple of years, though, so have had the chance to watch the same dudes hate to play with each other for two full seasons. On demand! Games like the Boston - Chicagos were reminders of how smartly recruited up and coming assets with great coaching beat old age, organizational stubbornness and a lopsided roster. Young Celts passing Pau Gasol on P&Rs at ease was the movie of The Rose Era’s Dusk… well, I mean, besides the Hawks doing the exact same thing.
Most of all, 10 players on the roster, and there are some early indications of them being more on the same page. The Bulls are 3-0 after winning two basketball games at home and a scrimmage in Brooklyn (the teams totaled 34 turnovers, haha), and while 3 games obviously isn’t a big enough sample to draw real conclusions, there are encouraging signs. Chicago does things right that they are supposed to do right on paper, like earning plenty of offensive boards and trips to the foul line, while show unexpected good stuffs like being great on transition and Hoiberg playing efficient lineups. There is less of a valley between the starters and second units as it was in preseason, and the Bulls also shoot 41% from 3s on a high enough volume. They’ve softened somewhat the voices bashing GarPax for putting together a spacing clusterfuck in the summer. Which they did, anyway, but hey, the Bulls are winning so save the garpaxing for worse weeks!
The biggest test of this young season was the opener against these same Celtics. Chicago came out sharp against an elite Eastern Conference team being on the second night of a back-to-back, and built a momentum early just enough to last until the end, accelerated with Dwyane Wade’s Reggie Miller night. Boston was quite physical, yet the Bulls showed up and fought back, making an entertaining first game. It also helped that it was on TNT.
If you asked me a couple of weeks ago, I would have put money on Boston winning this in a heartbeat. But after watching Chicago playing as confidently as they have, it’s less obvious. Michael Carter-Williams - who aspires to be our first capable backup point guard since Lehman Brothers went down - will miss 3-4 weeks of action after spraining his left knee against the Nets. But other than him, the Bulls are in full force. On the other side, Kelly Olynyk is doubtful with a shoulder injury, while Marcus Smart eyes his own season debut on Wednesday.
[In updated injury news, Al Horford is out tonight with concussion symptoms. The Bulls are gonna go an asterisk-filled 82-0 with all these schedule breaks! -yfbb]
The Bulls will hit a cold streak sooner or later, and by next week, they’ll enter their annual Circus Trip that always figures to be a tough stretch. Picking up the Ws this early could be vital going forward, and while this away game at the TD Garden look like the toughest on paper until the team flies out West, Bulls are doing things great that they shouldn’t on paper.
So they might win this, too. If so, they go 4-0, no matter how crazy it sounds.
GameTime 7pm, broadcast nationally on ESPN, locally on WGN