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The Bulls don’t have the same rebounding advantage against the Celtics that they used to

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the post-Taj Bulls are different.

Chicago Bulls v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

One of the key edges the Bulls have enjoyed over the Celtics over the course of the regular season is an edge in rebounding. More specifically, that they are very good at getting offensive rebounds, an area that’s a particular weakness for the Celtics. Boston has been historically poor in controlling their defensive glass for much of the Brad Stevens era, and their major frontcourt acquisition in Al Horford is merely average in that area.

In the Bulls pre-AllStarBreak games against the Celtics, they indeed did extremely well in this area:

Game | OReb%
10/27: 35.3%
11/2: 34.1%
2/16: 35.7%

But as Mark Karantzoulis of BullsHQ pointed out, that Bulls team isn’t how they presently have been playing. The trade of put-back-slam-master Taj Gibson has lessened their offensive rebounding rate, as Nikola Mirotic is one of the worst on the team in this area (below Rondo). There also has been several games where Cristiano Felicio, the best offensive rebounder on the team, has seen his minutes reduced.

As a team, they went from 2nd in the league in Offensive Rebounding to 18th:

In their only post-All-Star matchup, the Celtics actually beat the Bulls in the rebounding battle.

Now, as Mark points out, the trade of Gibson and subsequent emergence of Mirotic has meant that while offensive rebounding has decreased, the offense overall has improved due to the increase in minutes for outside shooters.

Ah, those days of Hoiballin’. I set a range of this wonderful time of 3/15 to 4/4. It’s coincidentally after they got demolished in Boston where Mirotic was back from DNP-exile (Hoiberg, wtf) and Rondo was put back in the starting lineup. But set it to even a few games beyond that, when Dwyane Wade got hurt.

For one thing, it’s pretty funny to think that the Bulls have re-made their image over 10 games and we can twist ourselves into thinking they are a dangerous team now. But you can see the difference in style of play to reduce a reliance on ORebs but increasing the 3-point shooting.

I’ll be more generous with the sample in the individual 3-point shooting, just doing pre to post All-Star Break:

That is downright goofy.

While a 7-game series is also a small sample size and anything can happen, you could expect the Bulls to regress a bit from three. Not only due to a generic regression to their mean, but also because Dwyane Wade is back to ruin everything that is spacing. Unfortunately for the Bulls, Taj Gibson isn’t coming back to help get back to offensive rebounding dominance.