The Chicago Bulls need good Nikola Vucevic to stick aroundRyan Heckmanon April 22, 2022 at 2:00 pm

Throughout the entire regular season, there was no more up-and-down player for the Chicago Bulls than center Nikola Vucevic.

There were games where he was the reason for a win. There were games that he wanted to forget. Inconsistency doesn’t even come close to describe Vucevic’s season.

In Game 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks, Vucevic’s final stat line was the perfect summary of his season. He finished with 24 points and 17 rebounds, which looks like a phenomenal showing at first glance. However, shooting 9-for-27 and taking 10 three-pointers, along with three turnovers and questionable defense, was a big reason for the Bulls’ loss.

Game 2, though, was a different story altogether.

The Chicago Bulls need good Nikola Vucevic to keep it up if they are to win this first round series.

After finishing Game 1 with a -5 in the plus/minus category, Vucevic ended Game 2 with a +13. He again scored 24 points, but this time did it on 10-for-18 shooting, including 4-for-8 from deep. His 13 rebounds came in clutch as well.

The difference between Game 1 and 2 was obviously that the Bulls shot better as a team. DeMar DeRozan looked unstoppable, pouring in 41 points. Zach LaVine added 20 of his own.

But, if the Bulls had gotten another inconsistent night from Vucevic, that might have been enough to lose this one. Remember, the Bulls saw their big lead dissipate to a final score of 114-110. It became close as the game wound down.

Now without having to face Khris Middleton for the remainder of the series, the Bulls have one less star player to deal with. Vucevic should have even less pressure on him defensively, as much of the focus will be on Giannis.

The one thing Vucevic has to do better, though, is closing out on shooters when the Bucks move the ball around the perimeter. Many times, he is the last defender to have to come out before a Bucks player finally takes a shot, as they swing it around.

Without Middleton’s mid-range game, the Bucks will be more dependent on three-point shooting, specifically out of Jrue Holiday, Wes Matthews and Pat Connaughton. Vucevic has to stay aware of these shooters when Milwaukee is working to get one of them the ball on multiple quick, outside passes.

Offensively, we know Vucevic will want to take his shots from the outside as well. He has to knock them down. If he struggles, then the Bulls have to get him the ball down low and allow him to see the ball go through the hoop a couple of times on post-ups.

Vucevic is someone who relies on a rhythm, and if he gets out of a rhythm, the mental frustration can take over.

If the Bulls want to win this series, not only do they need DeRozan and LaVine, along with the x-factor Alex Caruso, but they’ll need Vucevic to bring more of what he brought in Game 2.

Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.