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The Bulls are not inconsistent and finding themselves. They're bad.
the fake rally close-ish loss to The Bucks is AK's team executing his vision
There isn’t much to say about the Bulls Monday night loss in Milwaukee. It was expected, they were on a back-to-back and on the road against a star-laden title contender.
But I do wonder what Arturas Karnisovas thinks of it. Especially in the wake of the self-vaunted post-AllStarBreak record last season, AK has offered many times the vision for his team and an assessment of how they’re living up it. And for the most part he’s been pleased! Sure he’s like a few more wins, and to be more consistent. But there’s lots of positives he sees, and through continuity and cohesion both luck and opponent atrophy (or apathy) will go their way and get them over the hump.
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This is, of course, fireable examples of poor leadership. But based on the history of this franchise, that would only come from AK himself. The question I have is does he think this team is doing what he expected, and it’s sufficient?
I ask this overarching question after this Milwaukee loss because it was a microcosm of this team.
Playing against an opponent with more talent but still finding themselves amidst the ‘chaos’ of adding new players and integrating minutes-restricted pieces. The defense giving up a lot of open threes by design and hoping the other team misses (Bucks 14/47 from distance, with Lillard 1/9). On offense, a horrible starting lineup stint (followed up a 22 point first quarter on Sunday with an 18 point one in this game) with your 2 best players (3rd best player, Caruso, was out) performing terribly pretty much all game.
But also some brief runs behind bench activity, and a late-game ‘surge’ to finish the game with the deficit under double-digits. Oh and Vuc is a double-double machine.
The Cleaning the Glass box score has a garbage time filter, but none was applied in this game. However, being down double-digits and knowing whenever Milwaukee stopped messing around they could go on a run, it certainly felt like the game was over after this hilariously wide-open Bucks three in transition.
The Bulls called a timeout, and Zach LaVine knew it was Zach LaVine time (to get his numbers up). The Bulls were a +7 the rest of the game, with LaVine going 4-7 for 12 points.
They kept the Bucks off their offensive glass (25% of their misses) after getting overpowered much of the game. There was a real “please clap” sequence from Patrick Williams, who played this whole stretch and it dug his total game +/- out from -13 to -6.
I don’t think anybody covering or merely watching this team thinks that was a good performance. But what does AK think? In terms of his real thoughts, we can only go by his words and actions. And based off of those, we have to assume he thinks this is all ok. Just have to be more consistent.
Other, much more minor, stuff:
It’s only fair to also crap on DeMar DeRozan, who didn’t have the garbage time buckets LaVine did and so ended with an even worse line. I don’t want to prematurely retire the guy, but one indication of age finally catching up with DDR is his performance without rest. He had his best game of the season on Sunday with 29 points and defensive activity , and it’s likely not a coincidence that was with 3 days rest. In six games with a single day of rest, DDR is at 22.7 points per game with a 53.1 TS%. In three back-to-backs, he is at 16 ppg and 48.0 TS%
There was a lineup in the first half where neither DeRozan nor LaVine were in it. That should theoretically never happen, and I’m sure Billy Donovan is out there looking for the rotation monster that did this. While they were a -5 in 2:20 I thought they actually got some good looks. This is real deck-chairs-on-the-titanic stuff, but I am intrigued with the idea of pulling Vuc early and having him work more with bench players.
I enjoy doing these roster snapshots partially because it catches me up on all the rookie-scale players who have entered the league the past 2 years. For the Bucks, rookie Andre Jackson and 2nd year player MarJon Beauchamp played over 30 minutes combined, with 13 points and 3 three point FGs. Dalen Terry and Julian Phillips did not play. To be fair, the Bulls are a rebuilding squad and they’re younger and…wait…I’ve just been informed…
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