Patrick Williams’s injury foreshadowed what could have been — and what still could be — a tumultuous downfall to a highly anticipated season for the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls lost the height and defensive advantage Williams sustained in a lineup that was already missing those factors, to begin with.
However, the Bulls’ last two games proved they can play through the loss of their second-team All-Rookie.
Without Williams, the Bulls defeated the Boston Celtics with a historic comeback and the Utah Jazz two nights before that.
The Small Ball Lineup Is Working
Looking at specifics, the Bulls rolled out JaVonte Green as the final piece of the starting lineup for the last two games.
Green, 6-foot-4, cannot provide length to contain NBA bigs, like Rudy Gobert. But, he provides the grit, energy, and hustle to be a serious pest to those bigs.
Green this season has held his matchups to under 35 percent shooting in the paint and from midrange. His hustle on the boards, in transition, and in the paint is extremely worthy of a starting spot.
Off the bench, the rotational players put on a spectacle of solid minutes over the last two games too.
Tony Bradley added two points and four rebounds versus the Jazz and four points, five rebounds and two blocks against the Celtics. Bradley’s interior defense and ability to get down court are necessary attributes to the Bulls’ lineup.
Ayo Donsumu put on a show off the bench against the Celtics. In just his second road game as a professional, Donsumu scored 14 points on 6/6 shooting, adding four rebounds and two assists. He also guarded Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown throughout the course of his 22 minutes on the floor.
Derrick Jones Jr. added plenty of valuable minutes against the Celtics too, scoring nine points and adding four rebounds, two blocks and one steal. Two emphatic jams off of his steal and a lob from Donsumu electrified the Bulls’ comeback win.
Taking A Deeper Look
The Bulls seem to be in good hands, based on their mentality towards each game as a team.
Their win against the Jazz was mightily impressive, due to the fact that they kept them under 100 points and under 30 percent from three-point land. The Jazz shoots the second-most three-pointers per game in the NBA.
The Bulls did not also have themselves a hot shooting night as a team against the Jazz either. The team shot 42.9 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from three. LaVine shot 9/19 from the field and Vucevic was 4/19. This just goes to show that the Bulls can win even on their off nights.
Against the Celtics, the bench outscored the opposing 36-24. The Bulls erased a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter and outscored the Celtics 39-11 in that span. Another solid win while in the trenches without Williams.
These are the reasons why the Bulls were ranked in the top five of NBA.com’s power rankings for this week. Great teams find ways to win, even in their darkest moments.
The Bulls have a lot of dark moments ahead. The team is still without Patrick Williams, Coby White for some time and they have to monitor LaVine’s left thumb injury too.
On top of that, the schedule only gets more daunting. They will take on the 76ers and Joel Embiid twice this week, followed by the Nets, Mavericks, Warriors, Clippers, Lakers and Trail Blazers.
Strap in Bulls fans, the tests only get harder from here.