In the first two games of this series, the Chicago Bulls offense was good enough to put 102 and 111 points. But the last two games have been the complete opposite: every time the Bulls have the ball it looks like they are trying to break through a brick wall with a plastic spoon.
It appears that the old, stagnant Bulls offense that we have seen this whole season has reared it’s ugly head again at exactly the wrong time. Without Rajon Rondo, it’s all Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade isolations at this point with no ball movement.
And Nikola Mirotic has disappeared.
It’s been a very tough series for Niko. Despite him scoring in double digits the last three games, he has been shooting horribly. Only once this series has Mirotic shot over 40% from the field and that was in Game 3 when he attempted only seven shots, with four of them coming from beyond the arc. If Chicago wants a more fluid offense, Mirotic needs to step up. The main reason why he is on the court is because he gives Chicago spacing due to his ability to hit from the outside and he’s just not doing that right now. In fact, there isn’t a whole lot he is doing right on offense at the moment.
This play is one of the very frustrating parts of watching Nikola Mirotic and that’s the out of control plays where he tries to do too much with the ball. Mirotic as a playmaker is a great asset to the Bulls and they should try to get him more involved in that facet of the game. But it’s very hard to watch plays like that.
Here Niko catches the ball at the top of the key and immediately pump fakes. The problem is that Jonas Jerebko, who is guarding Mirotic, doesn’t jump at all and stays right in front of him. He then decides to drive right to the middle of the lane which seems like a good idea at first until you see that Dwyane Wade (who isn’t having that good of a series either), is in the lane as well. Wade was trying to post up Marcus Smart and when Mirotic decided to drive, he scrambled to the three-point to serve as a kick-out option. Smart wisely stays in the lane and with four guys around him Mirotic is forced to turn around and make a bad pass, which is stolen. The problem here isn’t the fact that was Mirotic is aggressive. It’s good to see him being aggressive and attacking the rim but he also has to play under control and make better choices with the basketball.
What happened to March Madness Mirotic? We know how good he can be when he’s making shots, spreading the floor, and showing some playmaking ability. But it’s suddenly disappeared in the playoffs.
Chicago needs it more than ever now. With the Bulls back to struggling for baskets, Mirotic needs to step up. It will first start by making some shots from the outside and making smarter decisions with the basketball. But who knows which version of Nikola Mirotic Chicago will get in Game 5. Hopefully for Chicago, it’s good Niko.