It's a St. Patrick's Day basketball bonanza!
Tonight, after and during countless critical NCAA Tournament games, the Chicago Bulls will take on the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center, which means we get the pleasure of seeing the Bulls' rare green alternate! Hopefully, this year's rendition will not include sleeves, but the good news is that the uniform will include these super sweet socks.
Apparently the team also wore these against the Miami Heat last Saturday, but you were likely too distracted by that 34-15 run the Heat went on in the fourth quarter to bother examining Chicago's superb stockings. At least the team is losing with style!
Well, maybe not. Last night's loss to the Washington Wizards was a particularly gruesome affair that saw players fail to execute on offense or exert appropriate effort on defense, and in true Bullsian fashion, somebody got hurt playing through an injury. Those are three trends that have reared their head against all sorts of opponents this season, and it has made nailing down what exactly is wrong with this Bulls team much more difficult.
Even more frustrating are the instances in which you still see the team overachieve against teams like the Toronto Raptors, furthering the narrative dating back to last season that the Bulls just can't gear themselves up for games that don't matter.
And guess what? The last meeting between these two teams follows that exact narrative. Granted, the Bulls were coming off of a three-day stretch that saw them drop a quadruple-overtime loss to the Pistons and then a loss in New York to the Knicks on the next night, but the Bulls still had no business losing to the Nets at home. In no universe should six players on this dumpster fire of a team score in double figures, but that is exactly what happened the last time these two teams played.
Worse yet, the Bulls were fully healthy for this game and still lost (well, healthy until Joakim Noah lost his arm), so it makes one wonder what a team currently missing Noah, Pau Gasol and now also Taj Gibson will be capable of versus a team that consistently gets worked over by Brook Lopez. The Nets aren't particularly healthy themselves with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jarrett Jack both slotted as "out," but that clearly doesn't create the same net-negative that missing three starting-caliber frontcourt players does.
Look, it would be one thing if they were playing a team like the Wizards or the Jazz that you can at least talk yourself into being average; a loss wouldn't look so terrible in those cases (though last night looked pretty bad). But make no mistake: this Nets team is ass. Ass on top of ass. Ass squared. Ass to the asseth power...of ass.
If the Philadelphia 76ers are the Lionel Messi of Eastern Conference incompetence, then the Nets are Cristiano Ronaldo. Do not try to convince yourself that this team is good, because they are not. They are in the bottom third of the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency rating in addition to team true shooting percentage. This poor team has no first-round draft pick until 2019, plays in the massive looming shadow of Madison Square Garden on a regular basis and the guy that orchestrated their re-brand sold his ownership stake almost three years ago. They have nothing left to play for, no remarkable talent to speak of outside of Lopez and their owner just hired a GM he didn't know the name of a few days prior to bringing him on board.
They are a clown show of an organization...which is exactly why the Bulls will lose to them tonight.
I gladly ate crow after throwing this team under the bus in my Raptors preview on Monday, but come on, there's less than no hope for this game. Three of the Bulls' big men are out -- which means there is absolutely nobody on the roster that can guard traditional Bulls matador Brook Lopez -- and the Bulls are on the second night of a back-to-back against a bottom-feeder team. A win would yield no positives, and a loss would only unearth more of the harmful truths about this team that many of us already see.
There is no victory in this scenario.
Tip is at 8:00 ET, 7:00 CT on CSN, but no one is making you watch and there are a plethora of NCAA Tournament games on that you could be watching instead. Either way, it's a holiday, so go drink until your liver turns black regardless of what the result is.