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Bulls vs. Warriors recap: another bad loss, another fourth quarter dud

methinks this team isn’t well-coached in games, and the players know it

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NBA: Golden State Warriors at Chicago Bulls Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls really did it. They lost a second game to the injury-ravaged Golden State Warriors, ending the chance to go on a three-game win streak. As opposed to 10 days ago, this time the defending Western Conference champs in name only had returning pieces D’Angelo Russell and Kevon Looney. But neither played well, and this was a home game. I’d say another candidate for ‘worst loss of the season’ but it was so much like the others that it’s just been more like one bad season.

And it was another abysmal fourth quarter. This may be news to Jim Boylen given how much he laments ‘spurts’ and ‘inconsistency’, but it’s almost like when the opponent is trying harder to win the game it is more difficult on his team. Kind of like how February victories are easier to come across than November ones, the Bulls had a bad team down in this, though only at a 6 point margin after the Bulls turned in a 32-point 3rd quarter.

Since the Bulls are a bad team too, both sides were sloppy as hell when it got to ‘winning time’. But while the Warriors shot 8/16 in the final period against the mirage that is the Bulls ultra-aggressive defense (they posted an insane defensive turnover percentage again!), it was the Bulls offense that was the true disaster: 5/20 from the field for a TS% of 34.5% and an offensive rating of 62.5

This meant the Bulls somehow found themselves down two with 19.5 seconds remaining. Repeat: they are behind, but through a combination of poor coaching and low-BBIQ players managed to only get a single shot attempt up. First they wasted 6 seconds walking the ball up before Jim Boylen called a timeout. But instead of that resulting in a play, something at least quick enough to give yourself a chance at an offensive rebound, you got this:

After the game, Zach LaVine was unrepentant, doubling down on his poor thought process: he wanted to take a three at the very last moment. He wanted to wave off the screen as to not bring in Draymond Green defensively (Green had a swipe of Kris Dunn earlier in the quarter) to go isolation.

From Jim Boylen’s end, his quotes read like he knows this was a bad idea. LaVine may have a point in defying his coach in the actual play call (indeed, why bring in Green?) but the timing and distance of the shot was objectively poor. Boylen correctly didn’t want to throw LaVine under the bus here though, and that’s actual growth from the head coach, as it must’ve been tough to bite his tongue on this.

But LaVine is right in that ‘the narrative’ would’ve been different if he simply made the shot: in their epic multi-game win streak and the miracle in Charlotte, LaVine was taking somewhat-absurd shots but making them. Nobody was asking Boylen about the lack of a play-call - or actual coaching in general - then.

I think this was said best by Stephen Noh on Cash Considerations a while back: Boylen doesn’t seem to even know what his job is as the head coach. It’s not to grow the men or play blue collar Chicago tough style, it’s to win games. This team would have a much better record if they played to their potential in the first three quarters, but there’d be easily achieved improvement if they simply weren’t godawful in the fourth.

You can’t help but think that the lack of a tactician in the lead chair can spiral: the coaching can’t get this team victories in the 4th quarter, which then has the team distrust the coaching, which then affects the entire game and running their ‘systems’ leading to close games against bad opponents in the first place.

defensive trap played themselves again

Again, this was a bad final stretch for both teams, but the Warriors made the last shot in pretty easy fashion.

Here was Boylen on that:

“That’s what we felt was the best situation for us, to get the ball out of D-Lo’s hands and make somebody else make a play,” Boylen said.

Even if that’s Green, a three-time All-Star and a superb passer?

“Yeah,” Boylen said. “That’s what we did, yeah.”

“D-Lo” is D’Angelo Russell, who was terrible in this game and had just front-rimmed two awful three point attempts in the prior possessions.

Meanwhile this defense treating Russell like he’s Steph Curry had Draymond thinking he was in his dynasty days again, our pals at Golden State of Mind have a full video breakdown.

Other notes:

  • funky shot charts in this game: The Bulls hit 17 threes to outscore the Warriors from distance by 24. But the Warriors had 12 more free-throw makes as the Bulls only got to the line for 5 attempts all game by only 2 players (LaVine and Shaq Harrison).

Big difference in shooting from two but outside of the restricted area: Warriors were 14/24 in these paint (non-RA) and mid-range shots, and the Bulls were 3/22

  • If you couldn’t tell by my mention of Shaq Harrison, Boylen’s rotation were weird again

Indeed, Boylen did a 5-man sub at the 8:31 mark with the starters+Daniel Gafford, then a couple minutes later put in Wendell Carter Jr. for Gafford to ride out the rest of the game.

Harrison played. Luke Kornet played. Coby White and Denzel Valentine shot very well but didn’t play many minutes. To be fair, they were negatives on the court when out there.

  • Speaking of Valentine, he’s sure an easy guy to not like. Earned two technicals, the second when he was on the bench, for trash talking. Talking shit when you’re on the back end of the bench on one of the worst teams in the league against the actual worst team in the league, that’s some real Denzel Valentine stuff.
  • Lauri Markkanen had 17 points in the first half but just 3 in the second. He wound up with a fine overall night, playing 36 minutes in part because Thad Young wasn’t available, but that’s not great. He did hit 4 threes for the third game in a row, and I smell a pointless tweet streak.