Keys to the Game: Bulls at Cavaliers (10.10.21)

by Bulls.com
Remind Me Later

Body

Fast and Furious

Get it and go! That seems to be the motto for the new-look Bulls.

Chicago blitzed the New Orleans Pelicans, 121-85, Friday night to go 2-0 on the preseason. As they did against Cleveland in the opener, the Bulls got off to a fast start, jumping to a 30-17 lead after 12 minutes, and never looked back. The ball freely skipped from player to player and from side to side before finding its way to the bottom of the net. More of the same will be expected and needed tonight in the rematch against the Cavs in Cleveland.

DeRozan looks and passes the ball

In the 131-95 blowout opener, Chicago dished 36 assists on 51 made baskets, turning the ball over only nine times, while forcing 22 Cleveland turnovers and holding the Cavs to a .357 FG%. Against the Pels Friday, the Bulls recorded 32 assists on 47 buckets, committing 12 turnovers, while doling out the same intensive defensive pressure, with New Orleans fumbling the ball 19 times and shooting .333 FG%.

Without a doubt, Chicago needs to continue going down this same path by hitting the hardwood running, establishing a fast and furious pace right from the jump and never back off.

Win the Boards

Owning the glass allows you to kick your opponent's ...

So far as a collective unit the Bulls have done a terrific job of crashing the boards in recording consecutive 36-point blowout victories. In the opener against the Cavs at the United Center last Tuesday, Chicago outrebounded Cleveland 57-51 and outhustled them 19-10 in second-chance scoring opportunities. Against New Orleans Friday, the Bulls again controlled the backboards, 58-45 (49-37 defensively) leading to a 19-7 edge in fastbreak points.

LaVine dunks

Physically, the Bulls are not a very big team, however they are a long and athletic group that doesn't shy away from mixing it up on defense. Cleveland, on the other hand, brings a lot of size and strength to the table in Jarrett Allen, rookie Evan Mobley, Kevin Love and former Bulls 7-footer, Lauri Markkanen. Although Love and Markkanen generally like to cash their checks from outside the paint, both are capable of taking a defender under the basket and shooting over his head. Collectively, the Bulls can't allow that to happen. Chicago needs to do whatever is necessary to shut down the paint, forcing the Cavs to operate far from the basket, with each shot or pass attempt heavily contested.

Basketball Kumbaya

Another important key to (team) success is having the ability to recognize opportunities for yourself and teammates, while having each other's back at all times.

Bucking conventional wisdom, the Bulls, with only three returning players from Opening Night last year, have done an outstanding job of coming together and playing unselfishly at both ends of the floor. Usually, with so much turnover, a feeling out process occurs that inevitably produces sloppy play and miscommunications. But so far that just hasn't happened with these Bulls. With only a week of practice under their belt, and despite having three key players sidelined with injuries (Patrick Williams, Coby White and Tony Bradley), Chicago's overall play has been a thing of beauty. Coming into tonight the Bulls lead the NBA in scoring (126.0), assists (34.0), rebounding (57.5), and blocks (9.0). They are second in turnovers committed (10.5), third in steals (13.5) and third in 3-point shooting (.389 3FG%), 6th in offensive rating (115.1) and second in defensive rating (82.6). Preseason or not, these are pretty impressive numbers.

Bench celebrating after a play

An important aim this evening is to continue to build and strengthen team chemistry. In theory, the more the Bulls play and spend time together – on and off the floor – the stronger they'll become.

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