Sunday, May 22, 2022

An Unexpected Bull Is Challenging Teammates To Dominate In The Playoffs


The Bulls go into their playoff series against the Bucks as heavy underdogs. In fact, the Bucks currently sit at +10 favorites for game 1. The expectation is for the Bulls to get bounced in the first round and not put up a real fight. Honestly, it’s hard to argue with those views considering how the Bulls ended the season. In the team’s final 25 games they went 10-15 which included 3 separate 3+ game losing streaks. The team overall looks flat and out of sync with one another as they head into the playoffs. They need someone to challenge them to be the best they can be going into round one. Most would expect a big name on the team to do just that. Instead, the Bulls had an unexpected member challenge the stars of the team. 

Surprisingly the player to challenge others is bench center, Tristan Thompson. We are talking about the guy who has been with the team for 23 total games this season and averages 16.3 minutes per game. One thing to keep in mind however is that Thompson has A LOT of playoff experience. He’s played in 83 playoff games in his career and has won an NBA title. At first glance, it may seem surprising but this is actually a good player to be challenging the other guys on the team. He’s been around greatness and seen firsthand how to win in the playoffs. Having him challenge the stars of the team may be the additional spark they need to play at their highest level.

Thompson wants Zach LaVine to mimic another star

Thompson challenged shooting guard Zach LaVine to be the best guard in the first-round series against the Bucks. That isn’t exactly a tough ask considering his competition on the Bucks is Jrue Holiday and that’s about it. Regardless he wants him to show up and be the best guard on the floor for the entire series. More importantly, he wants LaVine to take over in the playoffs similar to a way another star guard has done in recent years.

Thompson wants LaVine to play at the same level as Suns guard Devin Booker. Thompson is referring to Booker’s playoff run last season where he averaged 27.3 PPG, 44.7 %FG, 4.5 APG, & 5.6 RPG. Booker brought the Suns right to the edge of winning the championship in his first-ever playoff series. Thompson wants to see LaVine do the same in his first-ever playoff series. While a lot of people expect LaVine to show up in this series it never hurts to add fuel to his fire. While it’s great that Thompson is challenging Zach it’s more important that he called out another member of the Bulls.

The big man in the paint needs to step up

In this matchup against the Bucks, there’s one area that truly concerns me, the paint. The Bulls are in for a tough matchup as they face the big men of the Bucks. The Bucks have so much size in the paint with centers like Bobby Portis, Demarcus Cousins, Serge Ibaka, & Brook Lopez. Oh not to mention they have the 2x MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo who also happens to be 6’11. If there’s one player who needs to be challenged to be the best it’s Bull’s center Nikola Vucevic.

Thompson challenge Vucevic with the same task, “be the best big in the series”. Going up against the bigs of Milwaukee that’s actually a major ask. It’s going to take a lot for Vucevic to be the best big in this series. Both from the offensive and defensive side of things. Vucevic needs to show up and score 20+ PPG and grab 12+ RPG for him to even be considered for best big in this matchup. On top of that, he needs to show up on the defensive end of the floor and stop Milwaukee from taking over the paint. It’s going to be a tough ask from Vucevic who has had an inconsistent year thus far. However, if Vucevic can somehow do it the Bulls are going to be a completely different team. The Bucks are going to be very tough competition but at this stage, it’s the Bulls vs everyone.

No one believes in the Bulls

It’s crazy to think how much can change over a couple of months. The Bulls sat at the #1 spot in the Eastern Conference ahead of the All-Star break. Now that everything is said and done they are the sixth seed in the East and meet with the Milwaukee Bucks. The belief in the Bulls has gone straight down and there aren’t many people who think the Bulls have a chance here. The Bulls know it and they are going into this series with that mentality.

This team knows what they are capable of and the mood in the locker room appears to be good. They seem to believe they have a chance at making it past the first round. I also agree with that, why can’t the Bulls make it? They have been completely counted out so why not give them everything you’ve got? If you make it that’s great, if you don’t then you gave it everything you had.

Putting all injuries aside this is where the team is. Go into this series ready to fight and see what happens. It’s the Bulls vs the world and the city of Chicago will have the teams back. Go into Milwaukee and steal a game then come home and make the Bucks fight. This team still has two days before they tip off this series so prepare the best you can and be ready to go when the time comes. Whether it’s a bench center challenging you or the head coach, take it all seriously and be ready to win.

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