The Bulls grabbed their third win in a row last night defeating the Charlotte Hornets 123-110. Over this three-game streak, the Bulls have shown tremendous growth as a team. In last night’s game, they had 33 assists in the game. The Bulls haven’t seen a streak like this in almost two years.
The Bulls have won three in a row for the first time since Feb. 13-23, 2019.
Times have changed.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) January 23, 2021
That’s a long time to go without being able to string together more than two wins in a row. But this Bulls team is different. They appear to have trust in one another and in the system, they are running. Instead of forcing up shots they are trusting their teammates and moving the ball. The Bulls currently rank 10th in the league with 25.9 assists per game. The way this team is clicking it’s clear that they want to work as a team and not just as individuals.
"We’re all bought in this year. We all believe in each other. We all love playing with each other. I feel like we’re just growing." -Coby after last night's W.
📰 | @SamSmithHoops game recap:
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 23, 2021
The Bulls need to carry this momentum into their game tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers. A win tonight against the 2nd best team in the West would be huge for this team’s confidence. If they continue to perform as they have over the course of this win streak they can absolutely beat the Lakers.
If you have been paying attention to this team at all this year then you know their offense is performing very well. Head coach Billy Donovan is transforming this offense to play towards each player’s strengths. Thus far it appears to be working well. The Bulls are 4th in the league with 117.7 points per game. That’s almost 11 more points per game than they averaged last season. To put it into even more perspective the Bulls only reached 117 or more points in 11 out of 65 games last season. They are already at 9 games above that mark this season. If they score more than 115 points tonight they will set a new Bulls franchise record.
The Bulls have tied a franchise record with their seventh straight game of 115 points, a mark originally set in February 1970.
— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) January 23, 2021
This offense is absolutely clicking right now and they will need every bit of it tonight against the Lakers. The Lakers are holding opponents to an average of 105.2 points per game this season. The Bulls need to make sure they meet their average to get the edge over the Lakers. If last night was any indication of how the Bulls will play they should be in a good position to win.
It’s no secret that the Bulls have struggled defensively over the last few seasons. That is still somewhat the case this year but they are getting better as the season progresses. The bulls rank 26th in defensive rating 15 games into the season. But they aren’t bad in every defensive category like in seasons past. This team ranks in the top 15 of the league in opponent turnovers, blocks, rebounds allowed both offensive and defensive, and steals. They are still able to make a difference defensively on the glass which allows them to gain or maintain possession of the ball. This team knows they need to improve defensively and you can see it on the floor.
Zach LaVine is pumping himself up by playing good help defense (!!!)
Nice job understanding his low man responsibilities and preventing an uncontested layup. pic.twitter.com/LPHERlgdG0
— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) January 23, 2021
Everyone on the team is trying to improve their defense but shooting guard Zach LaVine has been the most notable improvement. He spent a lot of last season playing hero ball and defense wasn’t as much a priority for this team but he’s absolutely made a difference this year on the defensive side of the ball. The Bull’s victory against the Mavericks could have been very different had LaVine not guarded guard Luka Doncic in the second half.
It was Zach LaVine's defense on Luka that got them the victory 💪 pic.twitter.com/waBGECIXjg
— Bulls Nation (@BullsNationCP) January 18, 2021
The Bulls will absolutely have their hands full as they face off against the duo of forwards Anthony Davis and Lebron James. Beyond those two they will need to be prepared for guard Dennis Schroder and center Montrezl Harrell. The Bulls played them tough in their last matchup losing 117-115 but the Lakers were without Davis. The Bulls were also missing four players in that game. However, tonight they will need to rely on their veterans as they go into this matchup.
The veteran difference
The last time the Bulls met the Lakers the veterans on the team combined for 26 points and 9 assists. The Bulls were down four players in this matchup and the team leaned heavily on LaVine. The team didn’t see the 33 points per game that the core three veterans have been providing this season. Now that forward Lauri Markkanen is back as well as veteran guard Tomas Satoransky this game may look much different. The Bulls veterans have kept the young team grounded and continue to contribute each game.
It cannot be understated how much Otto Porter, Thad Young, Garrett Temple and Tomas Satoransky have raised the floor of this Bulls team.
— Mark K (@mkhoops) January 23, 2021
Tonight will be no different. The Bulls will need to see production from their vets to take the offensive load off the young starters. The Lakers themselves have a great bench unit that’s averaging 40.8 ppg while the Bulls aren’t too far behind averaging 35.7 ppg. This could come down to a battle of the benches. Using the veterans at the right time is going to be key for tonight’s matchup. Donovan isn’t afraid to mix up the lineups on the court. Keep an eye out tonight as he tries to determine the best matchups against this stacked Lakers team.
The Bulls are fun again
At the end of the day, this Bulls team is fun to watch again. They are moving the ball and running plays. It is no longer hero ball the entire game. They focus on moving the ball and trusting the players around them. If the Bulls stick to what they have been doing over the last three games they absolutely can beat this Lakers team. They need to focus on taking care of the ball and playing smart. The Bulls are ready to take on this Lakers team head-on.
Fear no team. Bring on the freaking Lakers. No one will now see the Bulls on the schedule and feel good about it. Welcome to the age of the Red Leviathan. The days of being a punch line are over. The day Cometh like a thief in the night…the Promised Land is in sight. pic.twitter.com/dzUk48i5G1
— See Red Fred (@cbefred) January 23, 2021