Keys to the Game: Bulls vs Pistons (11.01.19)

The Bulls return home to take on the Detroit Pistons in the first of four games scheduled between the two this season. Both teams are coming off frustrating losses the last time out, with Chicago's occurring Wednesday in Cleveland, 117-111. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen each posted 16 points for the Bulls, while Cavs big man Tristan Thompson led all scorers with 23, followed by Kevin Love who chipped in 17 to go along with 20 rebounds. The loss was Chicago's third straight and fourth in five games.

Once again, the Bulls got off to a fast start the other night, stampeding with a 15-0 run in the middle of the opening stanza to take a 21-11 edge. Cleveland, however, was able to right itself, answering back with a 14-5 run of their own to close the opening quarter down only one at 26-25.

The rest of the game stayed tight until early in the fourth when Cleveland went on another impressive run (13-4) to go up 102-94 with just a couple of minutes left to play, and never needed to look back. Defensively the Bulls were slow to react, allowing the Cavs to hit 41-of-78 (52.6%) from the field, 10-of-24 (41.7%) from three and 25-of-31 (80.6%) from the charity stripe. Cleveland was also able to pick up assists on 25 of their 41 made field goals and outrebounded Chicago 47-32 (+15) overall.

This evening the Bulls will need to contend with former team favorite Derrick Rose who is off to an impressive start after signing with Detroit as free agent over the summer. Now 31-years old, Rose comes in shooting a blistering 55.3% from the field and averaging 20.4 points and 6.2 assists, all while coming off the bench.

As for tonight's contest, look for Chicago to once again attempt to come out of the gates fast and aggressive, but this time hopefully stick to the game plan throughout the night. The Bulls are at their best when they instantly establish a fast, relentless offensive pace, and defensively, when they aggressively turn up the heat on opponents by putting a body on them and not allowing anything to come easy. It's also critical for the Bulls to either hold their own, or better yet, control the boards at both ends of the floor — especially on the defensive end as doing so would greatly assist to ignite their running game.

Chicago must also look to share the ball, making it hop from player-to-player and from side-to-side on a consistent basis and allow everyone to be involved in the action. They also need to run out and post shooters around the 3-point arc, forcing Detroit's defense to react and choose between either abandoning the paint and thus opening driving lanes to the basket or stay down low, freeing up open looks at the rim out on the perimeter and behind the arc. However, the Bulls simply can't settle for making tonight a jump shooting contest. They must also look to put the Pistons defense on its heels by attacking the basket and making their way to the free throw line early and often whenever opportunity knocks.

As for Chicago's defense, they cannot allow Rose to run free and wreak havoc all over the court. Collectively, the Bulls must stay tied together and openly communicate and trust one another, denying Detroit opportunities to slip into a free-flowing rhythm. Chicago must make the Pistons work for every point they score on every possession they get. They must be the aggressors this evening and be physical while at the same time focused and poised at both ends of the floor.