Well that was a laugher. The Bulls clobbered the Nets 118-88 to improve to 3-0 on the young season. Lucky for you, my loyal readers, I put more effort in these blog posts than some of the Nets put into playing basketball–otherwise this game recap would end right here and I would’ve turned this game off at halftime. That’s because the Bulls jumped on the Nets early and cruised to an easy W in Brooklyn. As it stands, let’s take a look back at how the Bulls got off to their best start since 1996-97 (don’t make any more comparisons between the two just yet).
- As I said, this one was pretty much over after the first 12 minutes. The Bulls jumped out to a 38-20 lead and never looked back. This was one never really in jeopardy as every time it looked like the Nets might make a game of it, they got in their own way to let Chicago walk to a victory. The fact that no starter played more than 29 minutes (Wade) tells you all you need to know about this one. But the Bulls did what good teams do against lesser teams, stomped on them early and didn’t let them up for air. This performance will do nothing to quiet the cautiously optimistic fan base after the first few games.
- It’s hard to pick out an MVP of this game as SEVEN players ended up in double digits, but I’m going to go with Isaiah Canaan who ended up with 15 points on an efficient 5/7 shooting, including 3/4 from deep. He also added 6 dimes and 3 boards with zero turnovers to boot. If Michael Carter-Williams is going to be out any significant amount of time, the Bulls will need Canaan to be a quality backup, which he showed he can be tonight.
- The transition offense was a thing of beauty again in the first quarter of this one. One play in particular, the one you’ve been watching on Vine (R.I.P.) for the last hour, highlights this perfectly.
- Taj gathered an innocent miss, but instead of pulling it down, he looked to run. He zipped the ball cross court to a sprinting Rondo, who, without even thinking, fired the ball back across court to a cutting Wade. While Wade could have gone up and possibly gotten and And-1, he decided to one-time a perfect touch-pass to the soaring Butler who threw it down for two points. That made the score only 22-11 at the time, but you could pretty much tell this one was over after that.
- The All-Lopez matchup didn’t exactly register in this one-sided affair, as neither twin played more than 22 minutes (Brook). Robin registered only 4 points and 5 boards on 1/5 shooting, while brother Brook went for 13 points and 2 boards on 5/11 shooting. Of course it was Robin who got the last laugh seeing his team go to 3-0 while Brook is saddled with a 1-3 squad who are going nowhere fast this year.
- A big shoutout in this game goes to the Bulls defense. They started the game flying around on the defensive side of the floor, getting into passing lanes, cutting off dribble drives, and boxing out well to put this one to bed early. There’s something to be said for forcing early turnovers, and Rondo’s aggressiveness in particular stands out as the lightning rod for this team on D. He was able to harass ball handlers all game long and never gave up on any play.
- We’re nitpicking here, but there are a couple areas the Bulls could improve upon. The first is taking care of the basketball. The Bulls turned it over 20 times to a terrible defensive team (league average is around 14). I realize most of these came when the score was out of hand, but against better teams they’ll take advantage of silly turnovers and unforced errors. Another slight problem was the defensive rebounding of the Bulls second unit. With Felicio as the lone quality rebounder on the second unit, this team will find it hard at times to recover errant opponents shots. We’ll see if Hoiberg decides to leave Taj or Lopez in with this unit against bigger lineups but it was definitely a noticeable problem against the Nets on Monday night.
- For the Nets, there were very few positives coming out of this night. Lin seemed to be the only player with any energy on the court while the team shot an abysmal 34% on the night including 16% from downtown. I’m no mathematician, but that’s not going to win you a lot of ballgames. One nice surprise is the emergence of Bojan Bogdanovic who has averaged 17 points over the first four games of the season. It’s not much, but the Nets don’t have a whole lot going for them now or the foreseeable future as they swap picks with Boston in the 2017 draft.
- Up Next: The Bulls travel to Boston on Wednesday night as the Celts will look to avenge their only loss of the season.