It took five minutes and fifty seven seconds for the Bulls to score a point Sunday afternoon in Boston. When Dwyane Wade finally thwarted Boston’s attempt at pitching a shutout, the Celtics had already built up a comfortable 13 point lead. The Bulls were never able to close the gap to single digits en route to a 100-80 shellacking, their fifth loss in a row
The stars did not shine
Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade played a combined 57 minutes and managed just 13 points between them. Butler was particularly awful in this game, managing just five points on 2/11 shooting. Jimmy did not attempt a free throw. Butler was as disengaged as I’ve seen him all season on offense. He did not attack the rim, he did not try to create contact on his jump shot, and overall Jimmy seemed content to let his young teammates flail about in his 31 minutes on the court.
Dwyane Wade shot 4/11 on mostly high degree of difficulty mid range fade-away jump shots. Wade, who also shot zero foul shots, made almost no attempt to challenge the Celtics’ defenders, settling over and over again for the least efficient shot in basketball. This season, just 25% of Wade’s shots have come within three feet of the basket and his free throw rate sits at .294, both career lows.
Wade also played his usual brand of defense in this game
Dwyane Wade prepared and ready for the afternoon start pic.twitter.com/6JL0nmOegM— BullsBlogger (@BullsBlogger) March 12, 2017
The Celtics are uniquely well built to handle teams with wing scorers. Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Marcus Smart are three of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA and give every team in the league fits. Their quickness and strength allow them to comfortably switch assignments and limit airspace needed for their man to gain momentum.
But that does not give Butler and Wade the right to check out of the game in the first quarter, which is clearly what both players did. Jimmy Butler, who’s long been rumored in trade talks with the Celtics, did nothing to bolster his trade value today.
Payneful to watch
Cameron Payne has not had enough opportunity to play much point guard since joining the Bulls at the trade deadline. Too many of his minutes come with Rajon Rondo on the floor, lineups that force Payne to slide over to shooting guard.
But Wednesday in Boston, Payne was handed the keys to the offense for the majority of his 19 minutes on the court. He promptly drove the offense into a ditch. Payne shot 3/7 from the field, which isn’t awful. But Payne was far too willing to launch off the dribble, and the shots he missed, missed badly. Payne did not display any attributes that bolster the case that this is the point guard of the future.
Worse than Payne’s shot selection was his ability to simply dribble the basketball. Payne turned the ball over five times, including one incident where Terry Rozier just took the ball away from the Murray State product at mid court.
Rozier strips the ball from Payne and finishes with authority! pic.twitter.com/aOg7ytoJEY— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 12, 2017
A point guard’s success is very much tied to his ability to augment his teammates best attributes. The ability to do that, to consciously set up teammates in spots and situations they like, is not something learned overnight. It’s certainly not something that can be learned after just a few games in the middle of a season.
But thus far, Payne’s shortcomings do not seem to be for lack of chemistry with his teammates. Payne just doesn’t seem to have specific skill he can fall back on, a strike-out pitch for lack of a better term. And that’s not something that can be solved with just becoming better acquainted with his fellow Bulls.
Failure to capitalize advantages
The Bulls have the second best offensive rebounding rate in the NBA, and third best rebounding rate overall. Boston is 27th in overall rebounding, and 29th in defensive rebound rate. This should have been a game that, even if shots weren’t falling, the Bulls hung around with second chance opportunities.
That hypothetical did not play out, as Boston won the rebounding battle 51-40. More embarrassing for Chicago was the fact they were only able to grab 22% of their own misses, far below their 27.5% season average.
After leading the league in offensive rebound rate for much of this season, Chicago has began to falter a bit cleaning their own glass. Some of that can be attributed to the departure of Taj Gibson. But offensive rebounding is a full team effort, a general mindset that everyone must employ to maximize chances for an offense that struggles to score more conventionally. In this game, Chicago did not employ the necessary mentality needed to make the most of what is a clear advantage the Bulls have over the Celtics.