Last Year vs This Year
Well it has come to this, the Bulls head into Game 5 at the United Center down 3-1 to the Wizards. This year’s team has struggled offensively since Derrick Rose went down early this year in Portland. In this series, the Bulls have not been able to find a person that an carry the team to a victory outside of Mike Dunleavy’s game 3 scoring outburst. Since the series is all but over, the question is was the 2013 team better suited for the playoffs than this year’s version.
Last year’s starting line up for game 7 against the Brooklyn Nets had something that the current Bulls roster lacks, multiple scoring options. Nate Robinson had an amazing playoff run that including a spectacular game 4, when he scored 34 points with four assist. Marco Belinelli was able to score 22 and 24 in the final two games of the series against the Nets. Those two players inserted into the starting lineup created offense, and prevented the Bulls from getting off to a slow start in games.
This year the Bulls have scored 22, 20, 28, and 18 in each of the first quarters. In each game the Bulls were behind, and playing from behind is not the strength of this team. Robinson and Belinelli would have been instant offense for the Bulls. Both players can score on their own, and get others involved by driving in the lane and kicking the ball out to open shooters. Despite the fact that Robinson would shoot pull up threes without hesitation, the ball movement was better last year. The offense often slows down when Kirk Hinrich get the ball at the top of the key.
The other area where last year’s team was superior was perimeter defense. Luol Deng was injured most of the playoffs, but his defense is still needed for this version of the Bulls. Deng would be able to guard John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Trevor Ariza. His on the ball pressure would have forced anyone he was matched up against to drive in the lane. The combination of Deng, Jimmy Butler, and Robinson would have frustrated the Wizards perimeter players.
Coach Thibodeau is being forced to play Butler heavy minutes. This has affected Butler’s play a great deal his field goal percentage is down, and he is struggling to make consistent defensive stops. Due to the lack of depth, Thibs cannot afford to put anyone in that is trustworthy to replace Butler.
This Bulls team is flawed, and has taken a step backwards on both sides of the ball from the team that upset the Nets last year. Unless NBA Commissioner Adam Silver makes another big decision by allowing the Bulls to reclaim Deng, Robinson, and Belinelli, The Bulls will be going on vacation sooner than expected.