After back to back losses in the preseason, including an abysmal performance against Milwaukee, Fred Hoiberg decided to shake things up. The changes Hoiberg made were in the front court with Bobby Portis and Wendell Carter Jr. replacing Jabari Parker and Robin Lopez.
The changes seemed to work as the Bulls churned out a much better performance in a 104-89 win over the Indiana Pacers. The offense seemed to be clicking with Chicago scoring 25 or more points in 3 of the 4 quarters.
And for once their defense wasn’t too shabby either, holding the Pacers to under 40% shooting while giving up only 89 points. It was a rough game for Indy’s best player in Victor Oladipo who scored 12 points on 4 of 15 shooting. Oladipo and Thaddeus Young were the only Pacers to score in double digits.
Although it was only preseason, Hoiberg showed he wasn’t afraid to be experimental with his lineups. Let’s dive into some interesting takeaways from this win.
Bobby Portis making a case to be starting power forward
In his first start, Bobby Portis had another really good game in what’s been a stellar preseason. He scored 20 points, making 8 of his 11 shots while also pulling down 6 rebounds.
Portis has scored 17 points or more in every game this preseason, and he’s only averaged 23.5 minutes per contest. He showed last night he can fit in well with starters LaVine and Dunn and still get buckets.
Right now the Bulls starting power forward spot looks to be up for grabs. Wouldn’t be surprised if Hoiberg goes with Portis against the Sixers in next Thursday’s season opener.
LaVine has another great offensive performance
It’s been four preseason games and we are starting to see that Zach LaVine is going to be great offensively. This was another efficiency-with-volume performance from him, scoring 22 points on 6 of 14 shooting, going to the line a game high 10 times.
It’s nice to see LaVine be aggressive, using his quickness and athleticism to make plays at the rim:
Zach LaVine dunk replays pic.twitter.com/67SZQMzlZN— Ⓜ️arcusD ᴿᴵᴾ ᴹᵃʳᶜᵘˢᴰ² (@_MarcusD3_) October 11, 2018
Three Ball Finally Hits
One thing which was especially been hurting the Bulls this preseason the lack of three-point accuracy. In Fred Hoiberg’s offensive system, one key is getting those types of shots up as much as possible. But while it was nice to see the Bulls take a bunch of threes during their first trio of preseason games, they weren’t knocking them down.
They had a much better output against the Pacers, however, shooting 43.3% from downtown (13 of 30). For the aforementioned scorers, Portis was 3-5 and LaVine was 2-5. But the biggest contributor was Justin Holiday’s 4-7 performance. For whatever reason, Holiday shoots much better at home.
When the three-ball is going, Chicago is able to open up their offense more, spreading out the opponent that tries minimize the number of looks from deep, and it creates driving lanes for guys like LaVine.
It also helped the defense making Indiana take the ball out of the basket so much:
Bulls can take a lot from this effort. Better shot selection and spacing (12-28 from 3) has led to better defensive transition. And better effort at defensive end has led to transition opportunities.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 11, 2018
Struggles for Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison
WCJ’s first career start for Chicago was a rougher night than how it went for Portis. Carter scored a mere 2 points and took only 6 shot attempts. But the attempts looked promising, at least:
Wendell also had two pretty lefty layups. The first was called off on a charge call. The second rolled out. But he looks comfortable finishing with both hands. Real comfortable. https://t.co/wj0ylRvcSU— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) October 11, 2018
It was a strange night for WCJ as he only played 17 minutes in this one which was the lowest of any starter by a good margin. Picking up two early fouls didn’t help and it seemed to throw him off rhythm in the first half at least.
As for the other rookie, it was another no-show from Hutchison. 0 points in his 17 minutes of action and only added 3 rebounds to his box score. His shot still looks slow and it’s clear he’s going to have to take some time to adjust to the NBA level. Like WCJ, him having a better performance in the next game against the Nuggets could go a long way. But with the way he is right now, expect a lot more minutes from Justin Holiday at the 3 spot.