Keys To The Game: Bulls vs. Nets (1.12.22)

Remind Me Later

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The Chicago Bulls defeated the Detroit Pistons with relative ease on Tuesday night, picking up a huge 46-point win. Now, Chicago turn their full attention to a tough battle with the Brooklyn Nets that will take place Wednesday night at the UC.

The Bulls are 2-0 so far this season against the Nets, but Wednesday's matchup represents the first time Chicago will get a look at Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving in tow.

With James Harden and Irving both questionable but expected to suit up, Chicago will need to lock in, especially on defense, on Wednesday night.

Avoid over-helping on defense

The term "over-helping" refers to a secondary defender trying to help a primary defender guard there man when it isn't completely necessary, creating an advantage for the opposing offense.

This may seem counterintuitive at first on the surface, as it would seem that you want multiple players double-teaming Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden at times. But these three stars have a few knockdown perimeter shooters in Patty Mills and Joe Harris.

Both Harris and Mills are shooting better than 40% from the 3-point line and would love for Chicago to forget about them on the perimeter.

Rather than double-teams or intense help defense, Chicago's defense would benefit from avoiding fouls and trying their best to get a clean contest on every shot.

Defense

Keep Kyrie out of the paint

This key is, of course, much, much easier said than done.

Even with his game being a bit rusty, Kyrie Irving has already showcased the incredible creativity attacking the basket over two Brooklyn games. Irving poured in 22 points on 52% shooting in his first game back, a road win over the Pacers.

His 3-point shot wasn't falling that night (0-of-2) but he still dominated the game by getting into the teeth of the defense. Alex Caruso would be a major factor in this matchup, one of the few players in the league with the lateral quickness to stay with Irving.

Sans Caruso, Chicago will likely turn to some combination of Ayo Dosunmu, Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball to have players that can keep up in terms of quickness or bother him with their length.

Kyrie Irving drives against the Portland Trailblazers

Win the points in the paint battle

The Bulls lack of size in the frontcourt has been discussed often but Chicago has mitigated many of those concerns with a complete buy-in in terms of gang rebounding and communicating on defense to squash mismatches.

With the Bulls disadvantage being so pronounced, you can almost tell if Chicago won by checking the postgame points in the paint battle alone.

Chicago, despite dismantling the Pistons by a whopping 46 points, only won the points in the paint battle by six points. And in the Bulls last loss, you guessed it, they lost points in the paint 48-42 to the Dallas Mavericks.

Whether it be by establishing Nikola Vucevic in the post, getting Zach LaVine in actions going towards the rim or DeMar DeRozan pick-and-roll attacks, the Bulls need to make sure to dominate the painted area on offense.

This would allow the Bulls to withstand any hot-shooting stretches from Brooklyn, thus giving them the least resistance path to victory.

Nikola Vucevic
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