The Bulls went 3 for 4 this week, winning three games in a row against the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, and Toronto Raptors, but losing the second game of a back-to-back to the Atlanta Hawks. Zach LaVine dropped 50 points in the loss, the first “Nickle” of his career. The Bulls are now 22 – 29 on the season. They still hold the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference, and are 2 games ahead of Toroto in the standings, but 2 games behind the Pacers for the 9th seed.
The big take aways from the three game win streak, the Zach LaVine/Nikola Vucevic pick-and-roll is a thing of beauty, nearly impossible to defend. Also, the Bulls were a very good passing team before the trade to get Vucevic, they are an even better passing team after his arrival. The post play from both he and Thaddeus Young has been spectacular. Tomas Satoransky seems to be settling in as the lead ball handler. He has done a good job of keeping everyone involved in the scoring, including himself. Sato has a good sense of who has the hot hand and how to get the ball to them. Usually his job consists of making sure that the ball gets into the hands of Vooch or Thad and letting them work in the post, but that’s proven a struggle for previous Bulls point guards, so kudos to him for being able to do it. The final take away from the three wins, is that both Lauri Markkanen and Coby White look a lot more comfortable coming off the bench. They put up some big numbers throughout the three game win streak, if they can keep it up for the rest of the season, the Bulls might make the playoffs.
The Bulls have finally beaten some better competition. The win over the Nets to start the week was a pleasant surprise for me, I really wasn’t expecting it. The loss to Atlanta, while disappointing, seemed as much a product of it being the second game of a back-to-back for the Bulls than it was Atlanta being the better team. It’s fun to see both teams competing at an elevated level since both have been on similar rebuild trajectories. A Chicago Vs. Atlanta for the Eastern Conference rivalry could be in it’s infancy, we’ll see how both teams continue to grow.
Coming up this week, the Bulls have another packed schedule, with 5 games in total. A Sunday/Monday back-to-back with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies, a Wednesday “welcome back to Chicago, Wendell” versus the Orlando Magic, and they finish out the week with another back-to-back, Friday/Saturday, against the Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers. These are all winnable games for the new and improved Bulls, but none of these teams are pushovers. The Timberwolves have some impressive victories on their resume this season, even as the worst team in the league. Memphis and Cleveland always seem to play tough against the Bulls, and Orlando is playing fast and loose with an influx of young talent after the trade deadline. As easy as it might seem to pencil in a bunch of wins this week just looking at their opponents records, this Bulls team still has a lot to prove, and they still have some gelling to do. Hopefully, they can rack up the wins and start putting a dent in the modest goals I set for them at the beginning of the season.
Until they do, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!