In a season that is sure to be filled with tough moments, the Chicago Bulls started it the way we all thought they would: with a loss. Against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference in the Toronto Raptors, the Bulls hung in there for the first quarter but then proceeded to get outscored 33-14 in the second and it was all garbage time from there.
Much of the second quarter downfall occurred when both teams rolled out their bench lineups. The Raptors had the advantage on paper and they displayed it on the court as well. Vincent Goodwill at NBC Sports Chicago had this after the game:
Clearly their roster was already depleted in the wake of the Bobby Portis-Nikola Mirotic incident, so Hoiberg had to dig even deeper into his bench than he’d like.
“Obviously we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare and figure out what we were gonna do with lineups because we haven’t played those lineups the entire preseason,” Hoiberg said.
Easy Eis in his recap had a gem of stat when it came to just how much Toronto’s bench dominated in this game:
C.J. Miles, Delon Wright, and OG Anunoby combined to outscore the entire Bulls bench 44-37. The Bulls’ reserves finished with an aggregate +/- of -75, and Kay Felder was the only one of the bunch that finished positive (+3).
While Anunoby and Wright were great, it was the play of Miles which stood out. The forward, who was acquired this offseason in a sign and trade deal with the Indiana Pacers, scored 22 points along with grabbing 5 rebounds. Miles was on fire from three-point land, knocking down 6 triples against Chicago. He took advantage of Chicago’s bad defense and burned them from deep.
One thing Chicago is going to struggle with, especially with Kris Dunn out, is containing speedy point guards and it was evident on this play. Here Fred VanVleet is able to drive easily past Ryan Arcidiacano and it forces Quincy Pondexter to come down on help defense. VanVleet is able to kick it out to Anunoby and forces David Nwaba to move away from his man, Miles, to defend the three-point shot. Denzel Valentine, who was guarding Delon Wright on the play, doesn’t rotate over quick enough when Anunoby makes the smart play and swings it to Miles. With that much space, it was an easy three for Miles to hit.
The above play starts with Jonas Valanciunas giving to Kyle Lowry via a handoff and setting a screen on Kay Felder, who was guarding the point guard. Before the action took place, Felder was trying to communicate a defensive switch with Nwaba. He got his instructions through but it also forced him to be a step late on guarding the screen. This caused a chain reaction of events to take place. Cristiano Felicio then stepped up to contain Lowry’s drive and it drew Nwaba to play help defense on Valanciunas, who was rumbling to the rim. With Nwaba moving just a bit into the paint, it left Miles open for a couple of seconds. That was all he needed to rise up and knock down a three when he got the kick out pass from Lowry.
With this young Bulls team there are going to be a ton of defensive mistakes. You can also 100% expect teams to take advantage of those mistakes. Tonight it was C.J. Miles and the Raptors bench who ran the Bulls bench unit off the court.
Kay Felder has the backup point guard spot....for now
As for this undermanned and now only further depleted bench. Ryan Arcidiacano was supposed to be the primary backup point guard coming into this game and now it looks like he has lost his job to Kay Felder. The former Villanova star played only 5 minutes tonight with one lone assist to show for it. Yikes. That opened the door for Felder, who ended up playing 16 minutes and registered 6 points and assists in that time.
Kay felder is a point guard on the Bulls roster than can beat someone off the dribble and make a layup shot pic.twitter.com/euTgygZBIT— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) October 20, 2017
In the second half it looked like Fred Hoiberg had already made the choice to go with Felder as the backup point guard while Dunn recovers. Let’s see how many minutes he gets against San Antonio on Saturday.