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It was one preseason game, but Jim Boylen and the Bulls were true to their ‘pace and space’ word

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3 > 2, and other advanced math

NBA: Preseason-Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls and Bucks played a very fast preseason opener on Monday, with 112 possessions. That is good news for a team that should be running. And to Jim Boylen’s credit he says they will be running, even though every coach says that.

What’s more important is seeing that. Well that, and better shot selection. We saw both in this game, as Mark Strotman detailed at NBC Sports Chicago.

The Bulls attempted 98 shots on Monday. Of those, 40 came in the restricted area and 38 were 3-pointers. That’s nearly 80% of their attempts coming from the most efficient spots on the floor, and that percentage would have been higher had it not been for their 38 free-throw attempts (another sign of positive efficiency).

There’s more there in by-player numbers and caveats that are worth checking out.

And after the game, it wounded like this was indeed by design:

“I felt like we were playing faster, got a lot of good threes and open looks,” said LaVine. “Obviously didn’t convert on a good amount of them or free throw attempts (26 of 38 free throws). I saw a lineup where Otto was at the four and Lauri was at the five. We’ll mismatch and see how we look as a running team and a small team. He (Boylen) said take more threes and I was all for it. We just didn’t make them; we got good attempts. I feel that’s the way the league is going now and we have the type of team to do it, so I am excited about it. Whoever gets it off the rim, push it, run your lane and get up and down the court.”

This is key, because as we all know Boylen came into the job with comically antithetical ambitions to ‘crawl’ and ‘get paint touches’. This improved over the course of the season, but only a bit. It was still very bad and not nearly to the level of his defenders (I think there are some!) want to believe.

But what appears to be one of Boylen’s other characteristics is being a yes-man. So even if it’s against his instincts, maybe John Paxson and Doug Collins telling him to run and gun (ironic...) is all it takes for Boylen to do it.

It’s just preseason so very much still in wait-and-see mode. There are indications that ‘style of play’ statistics do translate to the real games, though.