This past Sunday I was in Pittsburgh, where they have no NBA team, and at the moment, it sort of feels like that in Chicago. The Bulls scored 26 points in the first half against one of the giants of the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics. 26 points.
While the team came together in the second half, scoring 54 points, 26 points in one half is unacceptable. One play in particular represented the night especially well. Dwyane Wade was defending Avery Bradley on the drive, and when Boston star Isaiah Thomas passed to him, Wade just stood there and let him to get to the basket.
Anyone can see that Wade’s effort on that play was unacceptable, and the same goes for the performance as a whole. The Bulls were off the whole game, and never really seemed to play at the elite level necessary to beat an elite team like the Celtics.
After seeing that performance, I was reminded how inconsistent our team has been all season. The Bulls have beaten the giants of the league like the Warriors and Cavaliers, but they aren’t able to replicate that high level of play night in and night out. Performances like Sunday’s represent one of the Bulls’ metaphorical faces, while those wins against the elite teams represent another great example of this other face is Monday night’s game.
On Monday night we played another quality Eastern Conference team, the Charlotte Hornets, and the team’s performance was a different story. The Bulls won 115-109, and there were a plethora of big time plays by the Bulls. At the end of the first quarter, Denzel Valentine hit a buzzer beater from deep, energizing the team. At another point, Dwyane Wade made a play that completely contrasted his defensive effort from Sunday, doing so with a monster block on Marvin Williams, the Hornets’ Power Forward.
As you can see, this was a different type of game for the Bulls. They played with heart and energy, exemplified in the above block. As previously stated, this is one of the two faces of the Chicago Bulls. While the team wins big games, they also lose a lot of games they should win due to a lack of effort and drive.
Maybe this is because of Fred Hoiberg‘s voice in the locker room, maybe its because of the lack of shooting, but something needs to change to get the team out of this constant cycle of mediocrity caused by the team’s two ‘faces’. This team has no direction at the moment, and it seems like every time the Bulls take a step in the right direction, they end up taking two steps back.
While the Bulls have the talent to be a playoff team, in my opinion it would be best to let our young players play and develop rather than starting veterans like Rajon Rondo. There are younger players with potential like Bobby Portis, Denzel Valentine, and Cameron Payne who simply haven’t gotten enough playing time to date, and playing these young players not only speeds up their development, but might even raise our chances of a higher draft pick as they figure out how to perform in this league.
I am not sure there is an easy solution for this organization to turn things around, but it absolutely starts with figuring out how to eliminate the two ‘faces’ and create consistency night in and night out. This starts with letting young players figure out their place on the team and solidifying the rotation.