Preview & Chat: The Chicago Bulls

Kurt —  November 19, 2006

Test Time. The Lakers beat the Raptors Friday night because, well, they were the Raptors, not because the Lakers played well. This week they can’t do that, starting tonight they have four games against quality teams – the Bulls, the Clippers, the Jazz and the Nets. I’ve got more on it a LAist, but think about this: The Lakers got their 6-3 record against opponents with a 29-43 record so far, this week’s teams are 19-11.

Slumping? Expect to read/hear a lot about how the Bulls are off to just a 3-6 start – and losing three in a row — despite expecting to be Eastern Conference contenders, But they just lost their last three on the toughest road trip in the NBA this season – the Texas three step of Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, A lot of teams are going to lose three in a row going on that road trip.

All D, no O. The book on the Bulls coming into the season is they were going to be maybe the best defensive team in the league, the question was who was going to score. So far, fairly true, the Bulls are 7th in the league in defensive efficiency (giving up 103.2 points per 100 possessions), but are 24th on offense (103.2 per 100 possessions). For comparison, the Lakers are 8th in defense (108.8 per 100) but 21st in defense (107.9).

Makes for an interesting match up tonight. Whichever team’s weakness steps up – the Bulls offense or the Laker defense – will likely determine the game.

Speaking of D. The Lakers held the Raptors to 39.1% shooting in the first quarter, but it struck me as more of a fact that the Raptors missed decent looks rather than great defense. The Raptors shot 56% in the second quarter, and the Lakers played poor transition defense during the third quarter run by Toronto, but when the game was on the line in the fourth Toronto shot just 42% (again, missing good looks).

The Lakers, by the way, shot 61.1% in the first quarter then 73% in the second quarter, A team shooting that well should blow their opponent out, the fact they didn’t speaks to their defense.

Reserving judgment. Game two of Kobe up at the initiator role was a lot less impressive looking than the first game. Kobe looked better, so much so that Jackson sat him in the third quarter for just taking shots and not running the offense. A good and bad sign, but that isolation ball the Lakers got into against the Raptors was ugly.

Understanding Phil. Sometimes I don’t get his rotations. As the insightful Paul Westphaul said at the half, in the first nine minutes of the Raptor game, the Lakers had seven turnovers, when Farmar stepped on the floor the Lakers had none for the next seven minutes, and the team went on a 14-7 run. It may have been Farmar’s best game yet, and although Smush did not play poorly Farmar should have been rewarded. He wasn’t.
Farmar sits the entire third quarter, and plays the first half of the fourth quarter, but is subbed out after helping start an 11-2 run,

Fitting together as a team. First, Blog-a-Bull remains one of the best blogs out there, so I’m just going to steal from them: this is by a post put up by GWKD there.

The influx of this new talent has certainly destabilized the current “team” concept. While the Bulls may boast of the deepest bench in the league, it also must be giving Skiles fits as to who to play. Yes, we love Ben, Tyrus, Thabo, Griffin, Khryapa, P.J. and others, but how do they fit together? So we lack consistency.

Thing to look for. Much like the Lakers, the Bulls are still toying with a lot of lineups right now trying to find the right mix. We’ll see if either team can find one to exploit some matchups.

The Lakers need to hold on to the ball. So far this season the Lakers have turned the ball over on 20.2% of their possessions, do that tonight against a good defensive team and they will make you pay.

Watch for Luol Deng, who has been shooting 57.8%, scoring 21.2 points per 40 minutes played and has team best PER of 22.33. He’s also a place the Lakers can attack, with Walton or Odom, because he has been a weak point defensively.

What may decide the game is how well the Lakers defend the good Bulls guards: Kirk Hinrich (shooting 57.4% [eFG%] overall and 50% on threes for the season) and Ben Gordon off the bench (he can run hot and cold, but just ask the Rockets how good he is (34-point second half the other night). Defending the point has been the Lakers biggest weakness this season.

Looking forward to seeing how Bynum, who had one of his down games against the Raptors, deals with Big Ben Wallace in the middle.

Kurt

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19 responses to Preview & Chat: The Chicago Bulls

  1. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Being able to turn the ball over 18 times and win is great, but you won’t pull that off against good teams.

  2. If you could trade entire rosters, there aren’t many out there I’d trade the Lakers for. The Bulls are one of them. Talent, depth, and cap flexability. Tell me if Phil was still coaching in the Windy City how good this team would be.

    Are the Suns just not that good any more? Are the Jazz just that good now? And Baron Davis gets hurt (try not to look surprised) and GS STILL wins easily… behind Monta Ellis? It’s a strange world out there (let’s keep it that way).

    I still think the Lakers can win the Pacific. I just wonder when Phil ‘s going to shift the focus from ‘figuring out what he has’ to winning.

  3. who are we putting on hinrich, because the key to tonite will be stopping hinrich and gordon from penetrating the lane. when they are in the game we will be in trouble defensivley because kobe will end up on one of them, and he cant move with those guys right now. With the next two games being even tougher, we need to get some momentum and win this one, 7 out of every 10 aint bad.

  4. I too am looking forward to our match ups against big ben, while I think it’ll be a good learning experience for andrew, it should be even more for kwame, since this is the guy we want him to try to emulate. if kwame could become that kind of rebounder and defensive stopper, we could experiment with line ups including having andrew and kwame, along with LO, luke, kobe all on the floor at the same time…that would be a tough line up for anyone if they were clicking as a team.
    also, i’m still a fan of farmar, and i agree, it seems like the team runs better when he’s on the floor.
    I think Smush is too concerned that he’s on tv, in front of thousands of fans, that he’s more concerned about looking cool rather than playing hard and maybe not looking as cool sometimes, this was never a concern from our hustle guys of the past, rambis, ac green, madsen…and now farmar has that kind of hustle in him, and i would like to see him get some recognition from it.

  5. I’ve noticed that Farmar seems to be playing the PG for us alot when we hit runs. What exactly is he doing that is the cause of this? Is he pushing us out on the break, being a defensive presence (at least better than Smush), running the offense properly, penetrating into the paint, or all of the above because his stat line doesn’t seem to reflect this positive influence. I only really have that and reports to go on since I can’t watch the games.

  6. Farmar just seems to know what to do out there. Smush just seems lost. Team ball is not Smush’s strength. If we could do a brain transplant and put Farmar’s brain inside Smush’s head, we’d be set at point guard for the next 8-10 years.

  7. I like what Farmar is doing as well, but part of the reason he leads runs is the Lakers depth. He’s out there mostly with our subs against their subs, and because the Lakers are pretty deep this season that’s generally been a good matchup.

  8. I need to take a shower after watching that game, talk about a dirty win.

  9. Yeah, I didn’t think I’d see a win as ugly as the Toronto game for a while. I was right. Tonight was uglier.

  10. Did anyone else think that Jordan slipped when he rolled his ankle? Everyone on FSN made it sound like Farmar just tripped over himself, with no provocation, but the replays clearly show (to me) that his left foot slid a bit behind him, and I think that could have thrown off his balance enough to cause him to roll the other ankle, which didn’t have much traction either.

    Hopefully it’s not a big deal, since it sounds like he will be OK in a day or two. It was starting to drive me crazy a little bit, though …

  11. What we are seeing is the physical decline of Kobe before our eyes. Sure, he will get back to being more like his old self(probably around the All Star break), but what you are watching right now is what Kobe will be like in 4-5 years. Crafty, not able to explode past people or over defenders, but still better than most.

  12. I don’t think we’re looking at a physical decline just yet. Just a return from a long injury layoff.

  13. kobe looks good, the defense was great, our center duo is the best in the leauge, odom was aggressive, we shot bad and still won with our depth, 7-3, not bad, not bad at all

  14. Ugly or pretty, a win is a win. I’ll take it.

    Now, about those turnovers…..

  15. Kobe scores less than 20 and the Lakers win..no chance that happens last year in a game like this

  16. I don’t think Kobe’s physically declining. He’s 28, in the prime of his career. He’s not explosive, just like anyone after knee surgery.

    As bad as the game was, man this team is fun to watch.

  17. “put Farmar’s brain inside Smush’s head, we’d be set at point guard for the next 8-10 years”

    Uh, Farmar has a 40+ inch vertical. I think we’re just fine at PG for the next 8-10 years with his brain staying in his body.

  18. I still can’t shake this feeling…what’s going to happen with the whole Bynum and Kwame situation? As Bynum gets better, what happens to Kwame’s role? His psyche is not the most resilient so what happens if Bynum gets the majority of minutes? I guess it’s a nice problem to have, having too many good big men, but I see the underpinnings of something bad…

  19. Smush is 6’4″ and rangy. Farmar is 6″ maybe 6″1″ in his high tops. That makes a difference. Will Farmar be effective? Yes. I’m his biggest fan. But I also know reality. And the reality is that all things being equal, you take the taller player every time.