After a close loss to the Brooklyn Nets only one night earlier, it didn’t seem likely a win would come against the Heat on the second night of a back-to-back. That task was made more difficult after Zach LaVine was ruled out with an ankle (or knee?) injury.
Yet, despite carrying tired legs, the Bulls managed to pull out a legitimately impressive win.
Wayne Selden is good, pt. II
Between his performance against the Cavs and now in this game, I’m officially calling it: The Bulls have found in Wayne Selden a legitimate two-way contributor worth retaining next season.
Continuing to start at small forward, Selden was the best player on the floor against Miami, scoring 20 points (6-of-10 shooting), hitting four threes and playing solid defense. Doing all the things teams hope to find in a prototypical 3 and D option, we’re learning Selden is capable of much more.
Of the eight assists he dished out, none were highlight plays. Not that this team needs them be. With so few playmakers on the roster, simply having an option on the perimeter who is able to play with poise, recognise the correct read, and execute is a huge plus. That was encapsulated perfectly in this transition opportunity.
If the above was ever done by Justin Holiday, I’m having a hard time remembering.
I also don’t recall Holiday being the used in pick-and-roll as the ball-handler. Selden, however, on the very next possession, this time in a simple pick-and-roll action, again found Bobby Portis for an easy basket.
These assists may lack the style points worthy of a video breakdown, but they’re effective nonetheless. But, hey, if dunking is more your jam, Selden has you covered there, too.
Thank you, Memphis!
Portis gets buckets
It hasn’t been the easiest season for Bobby Portis. Injuries have cost him games (and likely money), and his development has stagnated. At least for one game, though, we were given a glimpse of the Portis’s best self, the one who loves nothing more than getting up and making shots.
Without LaVine — and Jabari Parker only playing 14 minutes and attempting 1 shot — the Bulls needed a volume scorer to support their collective defense. Enter Portis and his team-high 26 points.
In the fourth quarter alone he poured in 15, making seven of his 10 attempts. There was a three minute stretch in the final period where Portis was truly unstoppable, scoring nine consecutive points for the Bulls while the team held the Heat to two.
More impressive than getting buckets was Portis preventing them on defense. Ok, that may be somewhat of stretch, as it really only happened on one possession. But any time Portis is able to shuffle his feet into help position and block a shot at the rim, it’s notable.
Congratulations to Portis for registering his first block since Dec. 19.
Can’t blame LaVine this time for Dunn being bad
It may seem odd to raise such a concern in a game which the point guard scored 14 points and handed out eight assists. But while the box score numbers read ok for Kris Dunn, it was one singular play that stood out more than anything else.
After forcing a stop and securing a rebound, Dunn had an opportunity to create a quality look in transition. Instead, he turned down a layup only to walk into a bad midrange jumper that almost broke the backboard.
There were several critiques about Dunn’s ability as an offensive player when he entered the league. His ability to get the free throw line was one of them. To not even feign a look at the basket, particularly in transition, is a serious issue. A simple play such as this, which should have been an attempt at the basket — even if Hassan Whiteside threatens to contest the shot — highlights either a lack of development or a fear of getting to the rim.
Whichever is true, it isn’t good. Not for Dunn or the Bulls.
Enough with the Lopez post-ups
Make no mistake, this rare Bulls victory was of the Boylen Road Dogg variety. It was an extremely slow pace (92.7) and the Bulls only attempted 19 threes to the Heat’s 42 attempts.
And it featured a lot of Robin Lopez. While we’ve begrudgingly grown accustomed to precious seconds of the shot clock being wasted on setting up the lumbering center down on the block, it was at its egregious best against the Heat.
Now, I’m not going to suggest that Boylen stops posting Lopez entirely — it does have some value. But, Jim, I beg of you, enough with these possessions where over half the clock is consumed waiting to throw an entry pass down low.
If there’s a way to guarantee these stalling set pieces could always end with randomly amazing Arcidiacono cross-overs that leads to an and-one opportunity, I’d be all for it. Until then, let’s try something else.