Despite only having one starter in double digits, the Chicago Bulls were very much still within striking distance with half a quarter left against the Milwaukee Bucks. The bench was keeping the Bulls in the game, thanks to a fantastic debut by Daniel Gafford and Coby White continuing to be a spark plug sixth man. When Lauri Markkanen knocked down two free throws to make it 105-101, there was a chance for an upset.
However, like we saw against the Knicks and several other games this season, the Bulls offense vanished in thin air. The offense started to look stagnant, and the return to the floor of Chicago’s two main offensive options was a disaster. The Bulls end up not scoring again for the rest of the game as Milwaukee went on a massive run to win 115-101.
The Bulls offense looked discombobulated as there was no movement whatsoever. Guys were just standing in the same places watching the ball handler trying to make magic happen via isolation. The results were not only misses but two of their shots blocked by the Lopez brothers. This helped drive Markkanen and Zach LaVine towards poor decisions with the ball.
Above, Markkanen does a good job of attacking the closeout by Giannis and driving straight past him. However when he gets to the restricted area, instead of assessing his options he decides to try and dunk over Brook Lopez but he’s way too far from the rim, basically falling away from the basket. This has happened with Lauri several times this season.
While in that exact moment he really didn’t have another shot to take, it might have been a much better option to kick it out to Coby White or pass it to another perimeter player.
It leads to a turnover which Milwaukee converts into a three-point play thanks to Markkanen having to come over to help on the Eric Bledsoe drive. It was a painful sequence to watch and one which gave the Bucks a crucial eight point lead.
The next possession is in the above clip, where things quickly turned chaotic. It first started with a LaVine pull up three-point attempt in semi-transition. While he’s certainly capable of hitting those shots, with 20 seconds left on the shot clock it didn’t seem ideal at all. The Bulls are down eight and they needed to take a smarter shot, even if it took some time off the clock.
The three-point attempt clanked off the rim and even though Ryan Arcidiacono grabbed the rebound, the Bulls still couldn’t find a basket. LaVine made a smart cut towards the basket but was immediately surrounded by three Bucks as soon as he caught the ball. He tried to make a tough layup but the shot bounced off the backboard and into the hands of Giannis.
Chicago could have won this game but the offense completely fell apart. Although they got a big boost from their bench, you aren’t going to get that type of production every night. The starters have to deliver when it’s crunch time. This isn’t the first time it’s happened and sadly it doesn’t look like it will be the last time either. Bad decision making combined with a lack of movement on offense leads to meltdowns.
The Bulls certainly have the offensive talent but nothing seems to be clicking. As Stephen Noh of the Athletic pointed out, the Bulls now have the worst offense in the league.