Bulls were in a bad spot already heading into Thanksgiving week, and THEN they lost the gimme game. At home, against a Magic team without several key players...and they come out like crud yet again, and come back yet again, and then choked away a final minute lead.
A big story coming out of that loss, beyond the damage done to their record, was Zach LaVine being benched. I don’t think it’s a big deal that Zach was upset about it. What’s bigger is that he has played so poorly this season, and in that game in particular (1-14 from the field) that the benching was justifiable. When LaVine says “a player like me” in reference to his standing in the league...well, what is that player in 2022 after a ‘minor’ knee surgery? Right now not nearly good enough, and that’s a big reason the Bulls are poopy at the moment.
LaVine’s poor play combined with better-than-average-but-worse-than-last-year DeRozan and still-meh-but-we’ll-credit-him-for-standing-under-the-basket Vucevic has produced a clear problem of a starting lineup that’s performing poorly. I don’t think any of them will get moved out of the lineup (or off the team for that matter), so Billy Donovan really needs to tap the strategic Alex Caruso reserve and just see if his net rating gawd status can make a difference here.
The Magic loss was especially bad because we all saw what was coming next. The Boston Celtics - who the Bulls did beat once this season - are one of the best teams in the conference and sport the best offense in the entire league. The Bulls defense has been better than their offense, but in the past week that rating has slipped from top-5 to 12th.
And it doesn’t get much easier for the next several weeks:
Then they head to Milwaukee to kick off a six-game road trip including games against Oklahoma City, Utah, Phoenix, Golden State and Sacramento. They’ll then finish back home against the Wizards, Mavericks and Hawks, all teams ahead of them in the standings.
Eight of those 10 opponents are above .500 teams. One of the two that isn’t is the defending champion Warriors. All of them currently have better records than the Bulls. The Bulls are 2-5 on the road and 3-8 against teams above .500.
Now watch, the Bulls gut out a home victory because the Celtics simply miss a bunch of open threes. Momentum isn’t real in the regular season, especially in November, there are too many schedule quirks. That said, of all the major injuries we’ve seen in the past week, very few are on those opponents listed above.
Both these teams are pretty much fully ready to go outside of those recovering from knee surgeries.
Game Time: 7pm Central, NBC Sports Chicago