The Bulls offense has been slipping lately. Outside of a ‘get-right’ game against the Magic over the weekend, in their 3 losses they’ve put up ORTGs of 81.3 (Pacers), 107.6 (Rockets), and 107.5 (Heat). Their overall season mark of 109.6 is now 13th in the league.
There’s some qualifications to be made, surely. Miami is a very good defensive team (4th), and the Bulls just have simply not gotten any rest. After tonight’s matchup they’ll have their first consecutive-nights-off since November 4-5, and many times in this month the Bulls have had to play on consecutive nights like the losses to Indiana and Miami.
That said, there are some flaws shown in the Bulls offense. One major factor is that the team is so good in transition, it is perhaps hiding a bit of the half-court struggles. The Bulls are the league’s best team in scoring efficiency after live-ball turnovers. If the offense starts after a rebound they fall to 15th, and when starting from a dead ball they’re all the way down to 23rd.
So especially in that Heat game, where Miami had the second-best night of the season from an opponent when it comes to taking care of the ball, it really reduces the Bulls ability to get ‘easy’ points.
Another factor on top of that is the zone defense that the Heat unleashed in the 2nd half.
This is one example, but the Heat go 3-2 zone to wall off the nail, where DDR wants to get to.— Mark K (@mkhoops) November 28, 2021
Tough to run PNR, beat opponent off the bounce against a zone.
Takes away play advantage creation, which takes out role guys like Caruso, DJJ and Lonzo.
Really smart stuff from Spo. pic.twitter.com/2Ho7Kbjqeq
The offensive struggles during this stint were part of a season-long trend as the Bulls are 24th in the league in offense against zone.
In the wake of the Heat loss, Stephen Noh went into how the Bulls did counteract this a bit by using Alex Caruso as a facilitator:
Bulls have struggled as teams blitz LaVine and DeRozan more and more because their roll guys don't have great ball skills.— Steph Noh (@StephNoh) November 28, 2021
Nice wrinkle here that we haven't seen much, having Caruso flash middle and playmake. pic.twitter.com/2WqLKo1wAf
But as we know it wasn’t enough, and in the 2nd half too late as the Bulls were on the receiving end of a 3-pointer deluge from the Heat.
And even though Caruso was making plenty of plays it was also on other contributors to complete them, and as Noh pointed out both Nikola Vucevic and Coby White have been extremely lacking in those roles.
White took a wild layup that failed to draw iron. Vucevic made a costly turnover late in the game on an easy read to Ball in the corner, [instead] Vucevic stared down Kyle Lowry and threw it right into his hands. Vucevic was set up for a wide open corner 3-pointer late in the game and hit the side of the backboard.
Vucevic’s shooting just 26.3 percent from 3 a year after hitting on 40 percent of them. White, a career 35 percent shooter, has somehow been even worse. He has connected on just 22.2 percent of his 3’s this season.
It’s probably not a coincidence that since both returning members to the rotation of Vuc and Coby are struggling, the team is struggling too.
I think there’s a solution some obviating Donovan can do in starting Caruso, and limiting Coby’s minutes in favor of more Dosunmu. But Vucevic - who scarily is also missing free throws at his worst rate in 5 seasons - just needs to stop sucking.