The Chicago Bulls secured their second straight win in the last two games after beating the Indiana Pacers on the road, 113-97.
The Bulls are on a two-game winning streak after defeating the short-handed Brooklyn Nets last Sunday night and the Pacers on Tuesday night.
Here are 15 observations from the Bulls’ win.
- The Bulls got Coby White back in the lineup after he missed Sunday’s game versus the Nets due to health and safety protocols. Daniel Theis and Garrett Temple did not suit up tonight due to injury.
- The starting lineup continues with the ideal five of Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, Thaddeus Young, and Nikola Vucevic.
- Characteristic of the Bulls, they got off to a hot start, leading by two after the first quarter. Uncharacteristic to the Bulls, they dominated the second quarter, going up on the Pacers by 13 going into halftime.
- Rebounding was a huge factor for the Bulls’ win. They outrebounded the Pacers 57-33 and added 14 offensive boards to their night. They took advantage of the loss of Demantas Sabonis and gave themselves plenty of second-chance opportunities.
- The Bulls lit up from distance. They shot 42.4 percent from three-point land, putting down 14 of their 33 attempts. The Bulls struggled to shoot from three during their six-game losing streak, shooting < 30 percent during that stretch.
- Because the Bulls were lighting up from deep, their paint action was minimized compared to past games. They did outscore the Pacers in the paint, 48-44, but they have had more points in the paint, like the 68 points they put up against the Utah Jazz three games ago.
- The Vucevic effect is starting to wear off on offense. He recorded 32 points, 17 rebounds (six offensive), and five assists. See #7 for the holes he filled in the offense.
- Vucevic has opened up a new variety of offenses for the Bulls. Post-up and pick-and-pop are the two new and vital factors to the Bulls offense. He has created a lot more shots for guys just by making the defense pay attention to him in the paint, given his second-most assists for the Bulls in this game. Head coach Billy Donovan talked about the importance of his mid-range shooting from pick-and-pop situations post-game.
- Another helpful aspect of Vucevic’s offensive ability comes as insurance. Take tonight, for example, LaVine had a poor shooting night from the field — he shot 6/18 from the field and 4/12 from deep. Any night before the trade deadline and this game might end up in the loss column without Vucevic.
- The pace of the offense was slowed tremendously in this one. Once the Bulls were up a solid margin in the second half, Donovan forced the Bulls to relax on offense — a solid coaching move for a team that struggles to close games.
- Lauri Markkanen and White were terrific role players off the bench. They combined for 28 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, shooting a combined 62.5 percent from the field. This is the type of play the Bulls need from the second rotation. More to discuss on that topic soon.
- The Bulls’ perimeter defense was made a point of urgency in this game. The Pacers only put down nine threes as a team, shooting 30 percent from downtown. They seem to be making an effort to carefully contest shots from deep. I say carefully because the Bulls have an issue with fouling from downtown.
- Caris LeVert was maintained well from Patrick Williams’s effort on defense. He scored 20 points on 50 percent shooting, but the Bulls expected more from him without Sabonis nor Brogdan in the starting lineup.
- The mystery of bench rotations continues. Donovan only had nine players total in the game after three quarters. The four off the bench were Markkanen, White, Troy Brown Jr., and Denzel Valentine. Ryan Arciadiacono, JaVonte Green, and Cristiano Felicio saw small fourth-quarter minutes.
- The Bulls seem to be finding their groove and they still secure the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
The Bulls will play the Toronto Raptors on Thursday, who holds the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference, two games behind the Bulls. A win against the Raptors would be big for the Bulls moving forward.