Two games past the All-Star Break and the Chicago Bulls look like a totally different team than what we’ve previously seen. What’s changed? The only real tangible changes have been the addition of Patrick Beverley, and swapping Alex Caruso into the starting line up. Billy Donovan is going all-in for the playoffs. He moved the Bulls two young starters, Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu, to the bench in favor of the veterans, Beverley and Caruso. It’s paid off.
2-0 since the Beverley addition, and the Bulls are playing with more energy, communication, and urgency. The Mid Three have been especially motivated. Zach LaVine is back to playing All-Star level basketball, scoring efficiently and limiting turnovers. DeMar DeRozan is “trying” on defense, I even saw him close out on an opponent shooting a 3 from the corner. Nikola Vucevic has a little more bounce in his step now that the Bulls have a player that can consistently get him the ball in the post.
The most impressive change in the last two games has been the Bulls beating 2 opponents they SHOULD beat, and in convincing fashion. The Bulls are a better, more talented team then the current iteration of the Brooklyn Nets, and Washington Wizards. They ought to blow these two teams out. What a relief it was when they actually did just that.
Pat Bev makes an already strong Bulls defense formidable. The Bulls held both the Nets and Wizards to under 90 points. The combination of Caruso and Beverley as the point of attack defenders has been great. Fast-break points for the Bulls are up, forced turnovers are up, the team kind of looks the way they did when Lonzo Ball was out there on the court.
We’ll see how long the Bulls can keep this going. That 6 game losing streak going into the All-Star break will haunt the rest of this season, and could be the difference between post-season play and twiddling their thumbs in May. I love what I’m seeing from the Beverley Bulls, but is it sustainable?
This season, the Bulls have been Jekyll and Hyde. The Good Bulls beat the top teams in the league, the Bad Bulls drop games to tanking organizations. It’s turned off a lot of fans, and frustrated the players themselves. They need to do a lot more than win two games against a couple of lesser opponents to win back the good will and optimism they built last season.
If the Bulls can stay healthy, and continue to play with the same focus and determination that they have in their last two games, then we could be looking at a second consecutive playoff appearance. I’ve maintained this team is talented enough to be a top team in the East, maybe with Patrick Beverley propelling them forward, they finally will be.
Until they are, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!