In the immortal words of Ron Burgundy: “Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast.”
Unfortunately for the Chicago Bulls and their shamelessly loyal fans, Fred Hoiberg and his beat up crew did not keep their heads on a swivel when the Warriors came to town. Their heads were, shall we say…someplace else. In between their legs. Fantasizing about the postgame showers to wash away the shame and stink. Anywhere but the United Center floor.
Monday night’s beat-down courtesy of Bulls fan favorite Steve Kerr and his team of stars was over before it began. Klay Thompson broke his teammate Steph Curry’s record with 14 three pointers. The last few he made while actively bleeding from the head. No matter. He just put on a headband and went back out there to continue terrorizing the unarmed, over-matched and out-coached Bulls. The Warriors’ 92 first half points were the most scored in a half against the Bulls in franchise history. They were also the second most points scored in a half in NBA history. Only the 107 points scored by the Phoenix Suns in 1990 rank higher. The 149 total points scored by Golden State was the highest point total ever scored on the United Center floor. I could keep going, but I won’t. That small sampling of broken records last night is embarrassing enough.
So what did we learn, if anything? Personally, I learned nothing I didn’t already know. I heard some fans around Bulls Twitter leading up to Monday’s showdown predicting a close game. Some even thought the Bulls would steal an upset from the oftentimes careless and indifferent Warriors who don’t take bad opponents seriously. Hey, they barely beat Brooklyn, right? They’re playing the second game of a back-to-back, right?
If you put money on the Bulls to finish closer than that spread of -11.5, I have precisely zero sympathy for you. Congratulations, you played yourself. The blue and gold we saw steamroll their way through the Madhouse last night are the defending champion Warriors. Likely one of the most talented teams ever assembled in NBA history. The Bulls are a lottery-bound team missing 4 of their top 7 players. If Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine all suited up last night, I still would’ve picked the Warriors to easily cover that spread. Because they’re the Warriors. And the Bulls are a young, rebuilding hodgepodge of one-way players with less defensive presence than a security guard at a Phish concert.
Last night was ugly, and more ugly losses are on the way while those key players are on the shelf mending various injuries. Before all the injuries started piling up, some Bulls fans were talking playoffs. Personally, I didn’t see it. Weak East or not, I just didn’t see this team getting enough wins with arguably the worst defense in the league and players that didn’t fit well together. Given the schedule ahead and the lack of talent Fred has to work with, a repeat of last season’s 3-20 start suddenly looks plausible.
Which leads me to my final point, and I know plenty of Bulls fans won’t want to hear it: it is in this team’s best interest to pile up as many losses as possible in this stretch and moving forward. Yes, I’d love to see a sample of games where Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr share the frontcourt effectively. I want to see Zach LaVine continue his upward trend as an offensively dominant player. I want to see growth from Kris Dunn.
And if/when the full roster is healthy and playing together, I want to see those things happen in losses. They can be close losses. Competitive losses. Let’s hope not too many losses like the one on Monday night. Because those are tortuously embarrassing for fans. But losses are losses, and that’s what this young roster needs right now. They need another blue chip draft talent to join them, and there aren’t that many in the 2019 draft class.
Sorry to say it, Bulls fans. But the tank should be on. The entire NBA world is laughing at us right now. You may not like it, but it’s deserved. And if you didn’t see last night’s debacle coming, then your head is definitely not on a swivel. It’s someplace else.
Bulls offense getting a boost from Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine
Coming into last night’s game, head coach Jim Boylen let the media know that the Bulls were had the best offensive rating in the NBA over the last five games.
On today’s episode of Locked On Bulls, Matt goes solo and breaks down the Bulls’ Monday night loss to the East-leading Milwaukee Bucks.
The conversation starts with a close look at the way Zach LaVine has increased his assist numbers while maintaining his efficient scoring streak and his growing chemistry with Lauri Markkanen. Matt notes the poor shooting night from Lauri Markkanen but discussed the ways in which the Finnish kid positively affected the game despite the 6-21 shooting. Notably, his continued success grabbing rebounds, and his willingness to put the ball on the floor to jump-start transition offense opportunities after corralling boards.
In the second segment, Matt discusses Jim Boylen’s latest attempt at a small-ball lineup from last night, which saw Otto Porter Jr. getting minutes at the 5. With Cristiano Felicio essentially being unusable in an NBA game, Boylen has started to use more small looks with Markkanen and now Porter at the center position for certain stretches. Unfortunately, the Bulls are so weak in their second unit that the Porter-Luwawu-Harrison-Selden-Arcidiacono experiment last night looked awful. But when the Bulls hopefully add some better depth to this roster, they should – with or without Boylen – continue to experiment with these small-ball kinds of lineups.
And finally, Matt wraps up the show questioning the latest head-scratching decision by Boylen and his staff to let an injured player keep playing. Kris Dunn took a nasty fall and landed on his backside. Despite being invisibly serious pain and taking a trip to the locker room, Dunn came back into the game in the 4th quarter. He looked immobile. Why was he out there? It’s yet another example on the heels of Zach LaVine playing through a re-aggravated ankle sprain and Chandler Hutchison fighting through 41 minutes with a broken toe. For a team with just 13 wins nearing the All-Star break, Matt asks: what is the point of this, and why is no one telling Boylen to stop?
Boylen’s Bulls were supposed to be filled with spirit and passion…
The Bulls were booed off their home floor last night for the third time under Jim Boylen in a 112-84 loss to the Magic.
Locked On Bulls is back with a fresh episode, the guys kick off the show talking about the Bulls and Orlando Magic last night. A discussion about how things spiral out of control, the lack of offense, and making the Magic look like one of the best teams in the East. The guys talk about a solid first half for Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Zach LaVine – who shot 12-20 from the field and lead the team in scoring. The guys talk about Boylen’s lineup choices, needing to see Hutchison more, and why Carter was benched last night.
Are the Bulls playing Holiday and Robin Lopez more over the last few weeks to increase trade value? The guys talk about how Jabari Parker was not used even in a blow out last night and what Boylen said he plans to do going forward. Should Bulls fans be concerned with the way Carter is playing right now? Jim Boylen explains why he thinks you can learn more from sitting on the bench than playing in the game. The guys compare Carter’s numbers under Hoiberg and Boylen so far this season.
In a small sample size, Kris Dunn has shown improvement finishing at the rim this season. Locked On Bulls discusses his jump in numbers, what he needs to improve on, and how Boylen will use him will be key to his success.
Locked On Bulls talks about how the players are reacting to Boylen’s style, how night’s like last night is about as bad as the loss to the Celtics. If the Bulls continue to lose games at a high rate it may bring a top pick but will also come with some consequences. To wrap up the show, the guys talk about LeBron James’ comments on being the greatest player of all time. The guys compare that to when Michael Jordan was asked in 2009 about calling himself the goat. All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.
Did Bulls show some spirit and passion after brawl, blowout vs. Thunder?
Locked On Bulls is back with a fresh episode, the guys have plenty to talk about after being off on Monday. The guys get to last night’s Bulls-Thunder game in which tension boiled over into a near brawl. The guys break down who really started it, Robin Lopez getting in the mix and eventually ejected, and Jim Boylen right in the middle. Did the Bulls show spirit and passion by fighting back or is this eyewash for toughness?
They start first with the Bulls 21-point comeback win against Jim Boylen idol’s San Antonio Spurs. How the Bulls dug themselves such a hole and were able to climb out of it. Does Kris Dunn have the clutch gene? Yes? No? Too early to tell? The guys break down Markkanen and Dunn’s performance being able to get them back into the game.
Locked On Bulls has a conversation about the Bulls advanced metrics, how they stack up during the Boylen Era vs. the rest of the NBA. The guys talk about the usage of Wendell Carter Jr., his first-half foul trouble leading the NBA, and some explanation on why it might be happening.
The weekend brought rumors about the Bulls taking calls on Jabari Parker from as many as 15 teams according to sources. Are the guys buying 15 teams being interested? Will the Bulls be willing to talk on bad money? Probably not, they also talk about the most likely team involved in talks and how a buyout with Parker is still the most realistic option. To wrap up the show, the guys talk about quotes from Gar Forman in the LA Times. All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.
- What will year two bring for Wendell Carter Jr.? April 3, 2019
- Bulls inch closer to a pivotal off-season, who will stick around? April 1, 2019
- Bulls crawling to the finish line as injuries, losses pile up March 27, 2019
- How does Zach LaVine compare to other Most Improved Player candidates? March 26, 2019
- Bulls fall flat in loss to the Jazz and March Madness recap March 25, 2019
What will year two bring for Wendell Carter Jr.?
On today's Locked On Bulls podcast, one of their conversations centered around Wendell Carter Jr.'s second year with the Bulls....
Bulls inch closer to a pivotal off-season, who will stick around?
Locked On Bulls is back from the weekend and the guys have a handful of conversations that surround the off-season...
Bulls crawling to the finish line as injuries, losses pile up
Locked On Bulls Podcast recaps last night's loss to the Toronto Raptors, talks about Lauri Markkanen leaving the game in...
How does Zach LaVine compare to other Most Improved Player candidates?
Returning in his first full season since ACL surgery, Zach LaVine has put together an impressive season for the Bulls....
Bulls fall flat in loss to the Jazz and March Madness recap
Locked On Bulls podcast recaps an ugly loss to the Utah Jazz, highlights some of the best performances from NBA...