Okay, so the first game of the Nikola Vucevic era of Chicago Bulls basketball didn’t go as planned.
For now though, let’s run through the caveats.
Presumably, the new guys had very little prep time to get on the same page as the current guys on the roster. Head coach Billy Donovan tried several lineup variations that failed (most notably Lauri Markkanen and Nikola Vucevic starting together) and that he hopefully won’t try to use again. Veteran Daniel Theis wasn’t available in this game, but will be moving forward.
Right now, all of these are justifiable caveats. But like the “we’re still young and trying to learn how to win games’ catchphrase, if this new Bulls team continues to make it a habit of losing like this then caveats quickly turn into excuses.
Things I’d like to see moving forward: no more Vucevic/Markkanen big man pairings, a lot more Troy Brown Jr., and give Devon Dotson a chance at point guard. That position has been a dumpster fire all season, you literally have nothing to lose at this point.
Also, really crossing my fingers that Zach LaVine’s ankle is okay after it looked like it could have been bothering him in the game against San Antonio Saturday.
With the next three games at Phoenix, at Utah, and versus the Brooklyn Nets this feels like a game the Bulls absolutely need to get.
With about a month and a half remaining in the season, the Bulls sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. They are two games out of eighth place.
Unfortunate development from the Bulls perspective is that though Stephen Curry was listed as questionable after missing several games, he has been upgraded to probable and talked today like he was indeed coming back. Eric Paschall is out.
For Chicago, lots of players now classified colloquially as ‘banged up’, but all expected to play: LaVine (ankle), Markkanen (calf), White (neck)
Game Time: NBC Sports Chicago; 9:00 CDT