Three games into the new season and we still don't know much about the Bulls. It looks like we are in for the same rocky season this year as we had last year. The Bulls are 1-2 in the early part of the season with a surprising win at home against a very good Spurs team and two road losses. The loss to the Celtics (who have to be the most hated team of the decade) came as no surprise. The loss to the more evenly matched Heat was a tougher pill to swallow. While it appears that this Bulls group may be more cohesive than last years Bulls team, it still seems very evident that the Bulls will have a very difficult time beating anyone (excluding teams destined for the lottery) on the road.
The first thing that has stuck out to me is really the absence of Derrick Rose. I'm not sure if the ankle injury is still hindering him, or the lack of preseason basketball has left a little rust, but D-Rose does not look like the player we saw in the playoffs last year. This is his team now (although the mixed signals of voting Kirk, Lindsey, and Deng captains certainly seems confusing). He is still too unselfish. I'd like to see him break down defenses more, get to the rim, finish strong, and get to the line (although the last part is only partially in his hands). I hope to see more from Rose as his ankle heals, and tonight against the Bucks would be a nice game to get on track.
The second thing that stands out is the lack of consistency shooting the basketball. While I'm alright with chalking some of that up to playing against very tough opponents with very stingy defenses, we still have shot terribly - especially the 3-ball. We've been atrocious from beyond the arc this year. The Bulls are a putrid 7-43 from three thus far this season. This was one of our strengths last year, and now it seems like a glaring weakness. It's going to be tough for the Bulls to win many games this year if this continues. We've had better ball movement this year, we just need to make open looks.
It appears Vinny is going to exile Tyrus in 4th quarters again this year. I'm not sure there's much we can do about it, except prepare for him to be on another team next year. Matt at Blog-A-Bull pretty much hits this right on the head. Vinny is likely going to go small in crunch time with Rose/Kirk/Salmons/Deng/Noah(Miller) rotation. I suppose this is an improvement from last year, when he found ways to leave Miller on the court entire fourth quarters, gasping for air like a dying fish. I wonder though, how many 10-15 ft. jumpers Udonis Haslem had to burry in the 4th quarter before deciding to guard him with a legitimate PF. It must have been five since Haslem made four and Tyrus never saw the court in the 4th.
Fuck. Can we please just trade him to Utah already? We'll get something in return (Boozer?), he'll go to a team in the West, play for a coach who's number is retired in the UC, and play with D-Williams who will likely make him look like an All-Star. (I can't even believe I'm actually rooting for this. This is what it's come to Bulls fans.)
Lastly, (<--- like how I did that, as if this has been a well written column and not a jumbled mess of thoughts) the Bulls have no closer. This was evident in the Miami game when the Bulls scored just 17 points in the fourth quarter. The point was driven home every time D-Wade touched the ball in the fourth, which became more and more excruciating as he made clutch play after clutch play. In the mean time the Bulls pissed away possession after possession which was capped by Salmons dribbling the ball off his leg and out of bounds, a feat most Bulls fans thought was exclusive to Ben Gordon.
Now I'm not going to talk about Ben Gordon, because I'm pretty sure everyone that reads this blog hates Ben Gordon and everyone else who writes for this blog hates Ben Gordon. However, the Bulls need someone who can step up in the fourth quarter and close out games. Hopefully, in time, that person will be Derrick Rose, but I'm not sure he's there yet. Until then I suppose it will be closer by committee which will likely mean run the base offense and hope we get a good look. Which might be our best bet because aside from Derrick I see no one on this team with the skill set to consistently create their own shot.
Overall it's early, and we've played three pretty tough teams, two of which were on the road. It's a long season and there will be a lot of ups and downs. The Bulls gave me a false hope of something great with their first win against a tough opponent, but they likely are who we thought they were. A middle of the pack team trying to find an identity.