Every Game Counts

The Chicago Bulls have backed themselves into a corner as the season winds down. With just 19 games left in the season, the Bulls sit at the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference. The locker room has taken a robust approach to the season’s final stretch. Zach LaVine has stated that the Bulls are going into every game as if it’s a game 7. The Bulls currently sit half a game back of the 10th-seeded Wizards. A strong mentality like the one LaVine described is necessary for the Bulls to deliver what was expected of the team going into the season.

A Tale of Two Ends

The Chicago Bulls hold the highest defensive rating across the league since January 1st. The addition of Patrick Beverley has only bolstered a strong defense. However, in the same period, the Bulls’ offensive rating is the 8th worst in the NBA. Lacking offensively was unexpected from a team with Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic in their starting lineup. Getting it together on both ends of the floor would create a Chicago team that has the opportunity to pull off an upset going into the playoffs.

The Impact of Patrick Beverley

The Chicago Bulls are 3-1 since adding Pat Bev. Beverley has averaged 5.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in his first four games as a Chicago Bull. He has struggled from 3-point range, shooting an abysmal 16.7% on a small sample size. Thankfully, the Bulls did not add Pat Bev for his shooting. His addition was meant to add to a solid Bulls defense, but more importantly, for a leadership presence that the roster lacked. Beverley brings a mindset and style of play that the entire locker room benefits from. Undoubtedly, winning is at the front of Patrick Beverley’s mind.

Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Lack of Size

Post all-star break, the Chicago Bulls ran the Brooklyn Nets out of the United Center, crushing them in a 44-point victory. The team would follow up the win by beating the Wizards by 20 in their next game. Both the Nets and the Wizards were held under 90 points. Then came the Raptors in a game that would expose the team’s lack of size. Alex Caruso has gotten the starting nod over Patrick Williams since the team returned from the all-star break. While the defensive duo of Caruso and Beverley haunts opposing lineups, the team suffers in height. The Bulls were simply out-rebounded in a game where Williams or Derrick Jones Jr should have seen more minutes.

A Great Start

Despite the loss in Toronto, the Bulls are 3-1 since the all-star break. the Bulls took a sloppy victory in Detroit where a 20+ point lead was blown, but the team managed to hold onto the win (partly in thanks to a rookie mistake by Jaden Ivey). Zach LaVine had a stellar performance dropping 41 points on 70% shooting. Patrick Beverley added 5 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds, and 4 steals on the night, displaying hustle on both ends of the court. Continued star performances from LaVine put the Bulls in a good position as they look to push their way up the standings.

In a small sample size, the Bulls have shown to be an improved team coming out of the all-star weekend. The real test for the team will come over the final 19 games of the season, where the Bulls will have difficult matchups on their path to making the playoffs. A marquee matchup comes on Friday night, where the Chicago Bulls will take on Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns.

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