I’m starting to be very impressed with myself when it came to preseason prediction:
The lack of three point shooting is going to be maddening, and they will get torched defensively on some nights when the opponent isn’t bogged down by the schedule. But there will be more than enough close games where the Bulls DAWGS will out-work opponents on the margins, and then they have 2 of the best tough-shotmakers in the league for the late-and-close times.
I had mentioned Alex Caruso and Javonte Green as those players who would keep Bulls in games, but neglected to mention Ayo Dosunmu in that group.
Maybe also should include Andre Drummond? One prediction of mine that is not looking that smart is figuring Drummond was going to show up out of shape and be of should-be-out-of-the-league quality. He’s still Andre Drummond, where is quickly does stuff he shouldn’t even be attempting out on the court, but that is ok for a 12 minute per game backup center-only player. During the first quarter of the Celtics game, when the C’s ran out to a huge lead on impeccable 3-point shooting, Brian Scalabrine and some chucklehead doing play-by-play were guffawing at how outgunned the Bulls were. At one point Scal said something to the effect of “the Celtics one weakness is rebounding, but what are the Bulls planning on doing? Hoping a bunch of shots miss and dominating the glass?”
Well...yes! That is the Bulls formula for victory: get more possessions. And say what you will about its tenets, but it is an ethos.
The Bulls get their first gimme of the season tonight, as the Indiana Pacers are one of the few teams in the league outright not trying to win this season. Now, a couple other teams in this category may spasm their way towards a few early victories (like the Lauri Markkanen ‘leap’ in Utah, lol), so it wouldn’t be unheard of if the team is still trying enough to put out a competitive effort tonight. But the Pacers are the ones who will be outgunned on-paper tonight.
The Pacers do have 1 win, against fellow-stinkers from Detroit, and also have an early rookie-of-the-year candidate in Bennedict Mathurian, who was the 6th overall pick this past draft. Mathurian is already at 22.3 points per game, second to only Tyrese Haliburton, and barely behind. Beyond those two it’s a hodgepodge of second-draft guys like Aaron Nesmith and Jalen Smith, or holdovers from their last competitive team in Buddy Hield and TJ McConnell. So far they’ve been trying to ramp up the pace (8th in the league) to try and make up the talent gap, but their defense has been as bad as you’d expect, especially with anchor Myles Turner yet to play this season due to injury.
Bulls sheet is clean.
For the Pacers, not only is Turner still questionable, but backup center and old pal Daniel Theis is also out. Looks like they’re starting Smith at center.
Game Time: 7pm Central, NBC Sports Chicago