Your Chicago Bulls bounced back from a 19-point deficit and engineered a stupendous 38-point turnaround to defeat the visiting Boston Celtics at the United Center Monday in an action-packed 120-102 romp that help move the club back to .500 on the young year with a 2-2 record. The loss dropped Boston, one of the early favorites to represent the East in the 2023 Finals, to a 3-1 record on this season.
Let’s take a look at some high (and low-) lights from the bout.
Ayo went off yet again
Current starting point guard Ayo Dosunmu enjoyed a bounce back game of his own, following a pair of back-to-back low-scoring, low-efficiency affairs against the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday and Saturday. The 6’5” U of I alum returned to his assertive multi-dimensional scoring ways against the Celtics.
He scored 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the floor (including 4-of-4 shooting from deep!), grabbed six rebounds and dished out a pair of dimes. For the season, Dosunmu is averaging 12.8 points on 52.5% shooting from the floor and 50% shooting from long range (on 4.5 attempts), plus 5.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
Ayo Dosunmu keeps getting better for the Bulls. The shot making helps but the drives are just as important. Early attack here, defense comes to help on him and look what it creates. Kick, extra pass to LaVine who gets to attack a rotation. Just misses the layup. pic.twitter.com/k7jTq83g0x— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) October 25, 2022
His ability to blow by one of the league’s staunchest perimeter defenses to finish at the rim shouldn't be undervalued:
He's a starting point guard pic.twitter.com/jCriKQfHO0— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) October 25, 2022
Dosunmu’s multifaceted scoring acumen Monday was highlighted by BaB’s own Ricky O’Donnell in this impressive reel. As O’Donnell notes, Dosunmu impressed on drives, midrange jumpers (a la Chicago’s resident midrange maestro DeMar DeRozan), and of course that perfect night from beyond the arc:
Ayo Dosunmu was getting buckets from all three levels against the Celtics. His shot looks quicker and more confident on spot-ups from three. He burned Jayson Tatum to the rim a couple times. He even broke out the midrange game to beat drop coverage like he was back at Illinois. pic.twitter.com/0zAZjsxcBi— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) October 25, 2022
If the three-point shooting is real (and keep in mind, Ayo was a pretty good shooter last season, connecting on 37.6% of his 2.4 attempts), and the midrange game can hold, suddenly Dosunmu becomes a pretty complete player in year two. Is not at nominal starting point guard Lonzo Ball’s level as a passer or one-on-one defender just yet, but his scoring ability makes him quite the replacement.
Javonte > DJJ > Paw?
Though he possesses the physical tools to be an exciting prospect, starting power forward Patrick Williams has remained relatively ineffective at the beginning of Year 3. The 6’7” forward out of FSU scored just four points on 2-of-7 shooting from the floor and struggled to contribute much, outside of pulling down a few rebounds. He has not registered a single assist across these first four games.
Javonte Green got his regular minutes, and actually played almost two minutes more than Paw. Green clearly contributes more as a shooter and spot defender, but even Derrick Jones Jr., seeing his first extended action on Monday night, had a more impactful spell for the Bulls than P Will did.
A pace-pushing, defensive-oriented Zach + bench lineup that surrounded Chicago’s maximum salaried swingman with reserves Goran Dragic, Alex Caruso, Jones and Andre Drummond helped Chicago work its way back into the game at the top of the second quarter. In just 8:15 minutes, DJJ (who only scored in double digits six times all of last year, per the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast) had 10 points for Chicago on 2-of-4 field goal shooting and 6-of-6 free throw shooting.
With DJJ providing a spark in that unit, Williams would not return to the floor until the third quarter. He would finish the contest as the only Bull with a negative plus-minus. Chicago was -9 with Williams in the lineup. DJJ finished as a +16 in his short stint, while Green finished at a +2 mark.
Point being, the guy who can do this probably deserves to start:
Javonte didn't have the 'fake, send the defender over, ball on deck to establish rhythm' corner-3 in his bag last season.— Mark K (@mkhoops) October 25, 2022
Does now. pic.twitter.com/10pk5AYams
Note DJJ’s athleticism and court sense here in cutting along the baseline to get near the rim for this flush off a Dragic pass:
The second unit is it ‼ pic.twitter.com/nBHgwFaW1s— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) October 25, 2022
Billy Donovan pulled a Thibs
The game was effectively out of hand with 5:27 minutes left in the game. The Celtics put up the white flag, sending in their deep bench (including Blake Griffin!) against a lineup of the Bulls starters’ + Javonte in for Williams.
Chicago head coach Billy Donovan kept that lineup in for an additional 3:21 minutes with the game totally over, just to secure that W. This felt familiarly unnecessary, especially with old guys like 33-year-old DeMar DeRozan and 32-year-old Nikola Vucevic (playing incredibly well on his birthday, by the way), plus an injury-prone guys in Zach.
Even when Donovan brought in most of his bench, he did decide to keep Ayo Dosunmu in until the very end for some reason. He also brought in Williams to close out the game, and that pair of young starters played alongside Coby White, rookie first-round pick Dalen Terry, and... Tony Bradley (yes he’s still on the Bulls). This was all very Tom Thibodeau-core of him. This represented a nice opportunity for Chicago, already dealing with a long-term injury to a major rotation player this season, to rest some important players early in the season.
The move was so strange that Stacey King and Adam Amin voiced their own disapproval that Donovan played the starters (with Javonte in for Paw) so long! Ultimately, this is a relatively minor quibble right now, but it’s the kind of strategizing that can easily be cleaned up before key players are overtaxed later on.