Saturday, October 1

Chicago Bulls face schedule challenge as they seek to keep a hot start

The Chicago Bulls kicked off a brutal stretch on the schedule by adding their first loss of the season. DeMar DeRozan threw a mid-range jump shot at the buzzer, with a wild rally in the fourth quarter falling short, 104-103.

Chicago has been one of the stories of the first week of the season, with a renewed roster that is off to its best start in more than two decades.

The 4-0 record has been widely taken with a grain of salt in the basketball community, with victories coming against squads expected outside of the playoffs.

The lightweight schedule is about to change in a big way, with the loss to the Knicks opening a torrid streak of 13 straight games against last season’s playoff teams.

Upcoming 12-game schedule for the Chicago Bulls
Date Adversary
30th of October against Utah
November 1st in Boston
November 3 in philadelphia
November 6th against Philadelphia
November 8th against Brooklyn
November 10 against dallas
12th of November in golden state
November 14th at LA Clippers
November 15 at Los Angeles Lakers
November 17 in portland
November 19th in denver
November 21 against New York

The defense question

Going into the season, the biggest question mark surrounding the Bulls was on the defensive end. Early results suggest that the backcourt duo of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso have unlocked a playful perimeter defense, and the problems remain largely with their ability to compete indoors.

Going into the game against New York, the Bulls were giving up 49.5 points in the paint. Against the Knicks, they lost the battle 50-40.

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They also rank in the top ten in total opponents rebounds (47.8 per game) and on the offensive crystal (11.2).

Despite the concerns, head coach Billy Donovan believes the defense is way ahead of the offense in terms of building chemistry in the early part of the season.

“Tonight, I thought our defense was okay. We got hurt on the boards, but our defense kept us at it. Our guys worked, I think we have to be more cohesive on offense,” Donovan said after the loss to New York. . .

The Bulls’ 97.0 defensive rating entering the Knicks game has been boosted by playing the Detroit Pistons twice (30th-ranked offense), the New Orleans Pelicans (29th) and the Toronto Raptors ( 19th). The next stretch against some of the league’s most powerful offenses is likely to paint a clearer picture of the Bulls’ position.

Increased offense

On the offensive side, the Bulls are as advertised, even if they haven’t completely given up yet.

Zach LaVine should thrive playing alongside another dynamic shooter in DeRozan, while Nikola Vucevic offers a consistent option inside and out. Against the Knicks, the trio combined for 67 of Chicago’s 103 points, with Caruso the only other player to reach double digits with 10.

The biggest question at that end of the court may be who takes the final shot.

On this night it was DeRozan who tried to isolate himself on the right wing, before failing to hit the rim when RJ Barrett refused to bite into his pumpfake.

“I’m happy with the look. I wasn’t expecting to be so open. I tried to put my feet up, but I rushed a bit at the end,” DeRozan said.

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He explained that the play gave him the option to trade LaVine, who was well covered for any possible trade.

“It’s about the defender, I saw him change. They changed him, Zach didn’t have an angle, I had an angle to get to my place and shoot up, it was very short.”

Despite some good individual point totals, DeRozan believes the offense has room to grow.

“We keep building, still trying to get our rhythm and understand where our shots are coming from. It’s going to come over time. There will be that game where we get some rhythm.”

Nikola Vucevic echoed DeRozan’s thoughts

“We’re still trying to figure out how to play together. I feel like sometimes when we get stuck, we tend to settle. It’s learning each other’s tendencies and what we like to do in certain situations.”

With the chemistry still in progress, the next streak may hit the Bulls a bit earlier than they would have liked. If Chicago can escape the next few games with a .500 record, it may be time to believe the hype as the franchise seeks to return to the postseason.

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