The Bulls found themselves in the win column for the first time this season. Last night they defeated the Washington Wizards 115-107. The team looked to be clicking with one another for the first time this season and now sit at 1-3. This was a much-needed win, especially for this young team. This win was especially nice because of how well the starting five looked throughout the game. Four out of the five starters ended the game scoring in double digits.
The Chicago Bulls beat the Washington Wizards 115-107!
Zach LaVine led the team with 23 points and 4 steals.
Wendell Carter Jr had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Coby White with 18 points and 6 assists.
The Bulls pick up their first win of the season!
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) December 30, 2020
Had forward Lauri Markkanen not left after reaggravating his calf injury surely all of the Bulls starters would have scored in double digits. While the offense looked much better last night there’s one thing of note that will be key to the Bull’s success. The lineups are going to either make or break this team. Head coach Billy Donovan has been doing well so far as he experiments with the lineups.
The fact of the matter is the Bulls are a very young team. The average age of the Bulls starting five is 21.6 so there isn’t a ton of NBA experience within that group. That’s where the veteran’s come into play. While they may not be in the starting lineup this season they certainly are getting time on the floor with these young guys. With forward Otto Porter Jr., guard Garrett Temple, guard Tomas Satoransky, and forward Thaddeus young coming off the bench it allows Donovan to mix in his veterans where he sees fit. Last night that was on display throughout the game and it paid off in a big way.
34 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists from Sato, Temple and Porter thus far.
The vets have really delivered off the bench. It’s been the difference and why this should be a W.
— Mark (@mkhoops) December 30, 2020
That trio of vets ended with 38 points and were key in the Bulls keeping this one on track to get the win. Billy Donovan had nothing but praise for his vets after the game. When speaking on Tomas Satoransky, Donovan said he brings a “calming presence” to the floor. That’s huge especially for the young guys on the team. When teams start to make runs you often see young teams get frazzled and that’s how they let their opponent back in. Having Sato on the floor to keep everyone calm and hit some key buckets was very important last night. Satoransky even touched on Donovan’s use of veterans throughout the stretch of the game.
Tomas Satoransky on the Bulls starting youth and bunching reserves in 2nd unit: "That gives you advantage for the end of the games. You can play the guys who fit the best situation or who had the best games. That might be an advantage for us going into the season."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 30, 2020
Satoransky is right when he says that it gives an advantage and Donovan appears to be aware of that. Thankfully the Bulls veterans are willing to fill whatever role Donovan wants from them. They are coming off the bench to provide much-needed depth and experience.
Helping the young guys out
Another important piece to these lineups is the vets helping out the young guys while they are on the floor. That was on full display last night as the Bulls were closing out the game.
As Coby is learning the PG position it's good to see some of the vets helping him out on the floor. Porter Jr. pointing out where Coby should go in the final possessions of the game and getting him in the right position is what this team needs. #BullsNation
— Conner Grant (@Connergrant31) December 30, 2020
On more than one occasion Porter Jr. was helping guard Coby White get into position and get a play started. He was a key presence on the floor to ensure that the Bulls could close out the game and get a win. With a lot more experience under their belt, the veterans know how to close out games they should win. Donovan touched on how the young players need these veteran guys out there.
“I think those younger guys need that, they need help in a lot of areas.”
Donovan appears to have full trust in his veterans especially at the end of games.
This is 2-for-2 in close games that Billy Donovan has used Garrett Temple in #Bulls' closing lineup, though Temple fouled out against Warriors so he didn't finish it all.
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) December 30, 2020
This will most likely be a common scene as the Bulls close out games. Donovan turning to his vets makes sense as the rest of the team gets more experience.
Looks like Donovan likes the three guard lineup to finish games. He kept Temple on the floor at the end against the Warriors and Wizards. Temple, White, LaVine, Porter Jr, Carter Jr
— Conner Grant (@Connergrant31) December 30, 2020
The lineup Donovan used to end the game did a good job of stopping the Wizards from going on runs and made sure they closed out the game. Lineups like this will be common as the Bulls continue through this season.
The starting five
Don’t expect to see changes to the starting five at this stage. Donovan likes his young starting five and it’s important for them to gain even more experience.
Outside of Zach LaVine the Bulls starting five could definitely use as much time on the floor as possible to gain more experience. Being able to sprinkle the veterans in as needed is quite a benefit for this team. The key to the Bull’s success will be utilizing their talent in their lineups. Donovan needs to ensure he’s putting the right group out there based on the situation on the court. The good news is Donovan appears to be well aware of that and he’s working on that each game. We are only four games into the season so Donovan still has some time to figure out what the best lineups are for this team. Once the Bulls get Thaddeus Young back they can add another vet into the mix.
Keep an eye out for who’s on the court in key situations as you watch the Bulls this season. This will tell you who Donovan trusts more than looking at the starting five.