After playing out of this world for the first few games, the Chicago Bulls have began their descent back to reality.
Chicago was completely dominated on both sides in their 111-94 to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night. They have now lost three straight and are showing the fatal flaws of the team many thought they would be. Here are three things to take away.
1. Offense fails to get going
Despite shooting 43 percent from the field, the Bulls offense struggled to get going all night. Dwyane Wade, who went off against New York Friday night, had a horrendous shooting night. He went 1 for 9 from the field and didn’t hit a three-point attempt (0-2). Wade is important to Chicago’s offense and they need him to at least produce double digit scoring numbers in every game for them to win. Jimmy Butler and Robin Lopez were the only starters to score in double digits but that is not enough. Speaking of three point shooting, the Bulls couldn’t get their three-point shot to fall tonight as well. No Bull hit more than one three as Chicago shot 33% from downtown (6-18).
The Bulls also failed to get the ball moving against Indiana. In Chicago’s hot start, they were moving the ball around, whipping it from side to side and finding open shots. The ball movement was excellent. Sadly, they haven’t been able to replicate that type of movement during their three-game losing streak. There were many times during the game where the offense was really hard to watch. Especially in this possession:
Bulls' offense looks way too stagnant. They succeeded at the start of the season by zipping the ball around, it's not there tonight. pic.twitter.com/QBpw6xaCQG— Stephen Noh (@hungarianjordan) November 5, 2016
Even though the Bulls guards have shot well from three to begin the season, teams will still take their chances on packing the paint and letting them beat them from deep. You can see in the video that Rajon Rondo’s man and Jimmy Butler’s defender creep into the paint. Paul George comes to double and eventually forces Wade to pick up the ball. Then the possession is essentially over. By the time Butler receives the ball in the corner, there are less than 10 seconds on the shot clock and he makes a bad pass in panic.
With the defensive woes, Chicago’s offense needs to pick up the slack for the Bulls to be competitive in games. The ball movement needs to be there to create good shots or things will get ugly like in this game.
2. Defense struggles as well
As bad as the offense was, the defense was almost on the same level. Against Jeff Teague and the Indy offense, the Bulls were out of sorts. All but one starter for Indiana scored double digits. The real playmakers on the night where Teague and Myles Turner, whose PnR combo was one the Bulls couldn’t stop. Turner’s ability to hit outside jumpers and stretch the floor gave Chicago problems since Lopez has trouble coming out and defending near the three-point line. With Lopez, the Bulls usually ICE him on the pick and roll, making him stay back and guard the paint. Due to this, the Bulls are vulnerable to a big who can shoot jumpers.
Early on in the game, Turner established the pick and pop jumper and Chicago struggled to contain the Teague-Turner combo.
3. Good game from Bobby Portis
In a midst of getting blown out, Bobby Portis had a solid outing. Despite him getting a lot of the minutes in garbage time, Portis still put up solid numbers. He scored 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting (77.8%) and had grabbed five rebounds. It was good to see Portis playing well after watching him get exploited defensively in the past two games.
Hopefully for Portis this can help his confidence moving forward. He has fallen out of the rotation and has to get better defensively to get more minutes.