City Sports Report

Bulls lack of chemistry make them hard to figure out


By Carey Wood

After Derrick Rose expressed frustration and criticized the overall direction of the team in the media, the Chicago Bulls responded by soundly defeating the defending champion San Antonio Spurs, and then went on the road to beat a good Dallas Mavericks team. Order seemed to be restored. Since then, the Bulls have sandwiched a loss to the struggling Miami Heat at home, and road losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns around a thrilling double-overtime victory over the league-leading Golden State Warriors.

The latest loss was a game in which the Bulls were dominated by the Houston Rockets. No shame in a close road loss to a Suns team likely destined to make the playoffs. No shame in losing to Houston. But, the losses to Miami and L.A. are inexcusable. Especially, at that time being it was just a little over a week removed from Rose’s rant.

In most cases, it’s not that they lost. It’s the way they lost. Over the last couple of years, no team played harder than the Bulls. No team was more physical than the Bulls. It’s the Tom Thibodeau way. Maybe, it was due to Rose being injured, that other players felt they had to step up. During his injuries, they always had trouble scoring. But, their effort allowed them to still be very competitive. Of course, playing in the weak Eastern Conference didn’t hurt. Still, it’s pretty shocking to see the Bulls get out worked on certain nights.

Maybe, it’s due to the additions of players like Pau Gasol that haven’t quite fit in to that Thibodeau way as of yet. While the veteran big man can provide a lot of offense, he struggles defensively at times.

The Bulls do have injury problems. Perhaps, the most important Bull, Joakim Noah, has been out for stretches of time. Mike Dunleavy Jr. is out currently. Rookie Doug McDermott has been out since December after a procedure on his knee, and Rose himself has had his issues. However, this is unquestionably the deepest Chicago team we’ve seen in a while. When Rose is hurt, the ability to bring in a veteran guy like Kirk Hinrich is huge. When, Noah is hurt, bringing in a Taj Gibson to play next to Gasol is something many teams can’t do. Nikola Mirotic, another rookie, another guy with size, has had his good moments. Still, things haven’t quite clicked.

There’s even been the emergence of Jimmy Butler. Another knock on the Bulls in recent years was they didn’t have a dynamic shooting guard to pair with Rose. Well Butler has erased all of that. The third-year player out of Marquette has been terrific offensively and defensively. His ability to stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting has been huge. Without him, things would be a lot worse in the Windy City.

So what’s the deal?

It’s anyone’s guess right now. The man who ultimately has to answer that question has had questions surface about him. Thibodeau has always been known for his hard-nosed coaching. For the most part, it’s a good thing because he gets the most out of his players. But does he work them so hard that by mid-season fatigue starts to set in? I don’t buy in to this logic. But maybe that’s the problem. The players are not buying in to him. The rumblings are out there that Thibs could be replaced. Maybe even before season’s end. Another San Francisco 49ers vs Jim Harbaugh situation? Maybe.

That goes to show there is an absolute lack of chemistry with the Bulls, from the front office on down. That’s why they’ve been out worked at times. That’s why their defensive numbers have taken a dive. That’s why Rose has turned into more of a jump shooter than the guy that would attack the rim with reckless abandon. I know he’s still not quite right from all of his injuries, but he’s shown that he still has a reasonable amount of that explosiveness we’ve loved to see from him. Let’s cut to the chase. His shot selection is terrible at times. Butler should be taking those types of shots, not Rose.

This was supposed to be the year of the Bulls. Lebron left Miami for what seemed like an uncertain situation, at least for this season, in Cleveland. Paul George went down to injury in Indiana, and the rest of the Eastern Conference was supposed to be, well the rest of the Eastern Conference. Thanks to the play of teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards, and Toronto Raptors, the Eastern Conference is not what we expected either.

Still, there is plenty of time for the team I picked before the season to come out of the Eastern conference and play in the NBA Finals, to do just that. They’re the most complete team in the NBA. However, Derrick Rose has to get back to being Derrick Rose. Noah and Dunleavy have to stay healthy. The Bulls simply have to be the Bulls. Thibodeau’s Bulls that is.

One Comment

  1. Jason

    February 11, 2015 at 12:21 am

    I think Jimmy Buckets defense has tapered off just a little bit. ..he’s playing big time minutes just like everyone else on that team…. I think their tired Thibbs works the hell out of those guys….in practice and in game’s.

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