Keys to the Game: Bulls vs Pelicans (10.22.21)

by Bulls.com
Remind Me Later

Body

The Bulls return to the United Center to tip-off the home portion of the 2021-22 season tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans. Fans who can't catch the game in person can check out the action on TV and radio (NBC Sports Chicago / WSCR-AM 670) beginning at 7:00 PM (CT).

Chicago comes home to the West Side with a 1-0 record after throttling the Detroit Pistons 94-88 Wednesday night in Motown. All-Star Zach LaVine led the way with a game-high 34 points (23 in the second half), while Nikola Vucevic posted a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan also chipped in 17 points and 7 rebounds in his Bulls' debut.

New Orleans hits town 0-1 after getting thumped on its home court, 117-97, by Philadelphia, on Wednesday. The Pelicans had to play without star strongman Zion Williamson, as the former Duke standout is still sidelined recovering from offseason foot surgery. Williamson won't be in the lineup tonight, either.

Let's Go!

This year's Bulls want to get off to fast starts each and every night. Creating a speedy tempo the moment the ball goes up for grabs is exactly what Head Coach Billy Donovan has preached to his squad since Day 1 of training camp. Chicago's roster is loaded with long, lean, and highly athletic players that can get up and down the floor with ease. A fast, relentless pace plays to the strength of the Bulls' roster. Physically, Chicago is not very big when it comes to NBA standards. However, few opponents can match their athleticism and overall team speed. Making tonight's game a track meet is smartest and easiest way for the Bulls to come away with their second victory on the new season.

LaVine dribble drives

It Takes a Village

As mentioned above, overall the Bulls are not very big. Nikola Vučević, at 7-feet and 260-pounds is the biggest and strongest on the roster, followed by Tony Bradley at 6'11, 248-pounds. Although both Vučević and Bradley are terrific rebounders, for the Bulls to compete and fire up their explosive offense it's going to take a group effort on the glass to come away a win tonight. Assuming command of the backboard, at both ends of the floor, and especially on the defensive side, will help the Bulls to ignite their potent running game by ripping a rebound and passing the ball ahead to a pair of streaking wings for easy scores in transition.

Vucevic looks

Come Together

Another crucial characteristic of a successful, all-around team is their willingness to play together. To beat New Orleans tonight everyone on the floor must be involved in the action. Offensively, the ball has to jump from player-to-player and skip from side-to-side in search of an open route to the rim. Chicago has to spread out all along the perimeter and force the Pels to abandon the paint, opening paths to hoop and allowing the Bulls to tap into their athleticism and speed in attacking the basket for a dunk/layup or the opportunity to post points from the free throw line.

Defensively, as a team, Chicago must keep the lines of communication open and free flowing, while closing off the paint and forcing the Pels to uncomfortably operate far from the rim.

Lonzo Ball passes
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