Bulls

Bulls not surprised nor impressed with quick start

Bulls not surprised nor impressed with quick start

Perspective was the word of the day in the Bulls’ locker room after their impressive thrashing of the Indiana Pacers Saturday night at the United Center, putting a nice capper on a 2-0 start.

It is just two games, they said. Two home games at that.

Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade were quick to point out the schedule has been kind to the Bulls in the opening days, as their first two opponents were playing the back end of back-to-back sets as opposed to both teams having equal rest.

Jimmy Butler made sure to say he’s neither surprised nor impressed with how things have gone so far. He was around last year when the Bulls were second in the East in early January, 10 games above .500, and found themselves in the lottery four months later.

“Am I impressed? No. I know what we’re capable of. I’ve seen it,” Butler said to CSNChicago.com at his locker Saturday night. “On the outside looking in, you might be impressed but we have a long way to go. I think we can do so much better in so many areas but we gotta keep going in the right direction.”

When asked if he was surprised at how cohesive things look—which considering 10 new players and four new starters is a feat in itself—he wouldn’t allow his team that, either.

“No. Because I’ve seen it. I’m with these guys every day in the gym,” Butler said. “It doesn’t surprise me. It doesn’t surprise me when you see the work. You see it every day. Y’all don’t see it, so you might say 'I can’t believe they’re playing like this.' I see it.”

Anybody who knows Butler well knows he only respects hard work, so seeing the likes of Taj Gibson, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo working just as hard as he is something he didn’t see last year—which frustrated him to no end.

The three all mentioned the harder training camp, believing it’s led to more trust and better ball-movement, movement that wasn’t seen at all last year.

Even if predicting a 2-0 start wasn’t the boldest thing in the world, the way they’ve played is capturing attention. Averaging 29.5 assists being chief among the shocking stats.

“I’ve seen it in practice. It’s good to see it translate in the game,” Wade said. We’re just focused on winning ballgames. We’ve given ourselves the blueprint of what we need to do. Now the most important thing is how many times we get to that game?”

“It’s gonna be times where the ball isn’t gonna move much and we have to get back to that. We gotta move it but most importantly the way we defended makes me happy because it takes a long time to get on the same page when you have guys coming from different systems.”

Rondo was the only starter not to reach double figures but was arguably Saturday’s most impactful player, setting the table offensively and keeping Jeff Teague from finding a rhythm.

“We’ve been practicing 30 days straight,” said Rondo with a chuckle. “The chemistry is coming along. The key is getting to a good start.”

The Bulls are taking this act on the road for a quick trip to Brooklyn and Boston, as the Celtics will want a little payback for the Bulls pulling away on opening night. The players are just as curious to see if the ball movement and stout defense carries, with Wade saying they have to “take a picture” of how to play as the season progresses.

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If things keep moving in this direction, especially considering the modest expectations, eyes will open.

“We just wanna keep the message of consistency and playing for one another,” Rondo said. “I don’t really care what the outsiders say, or opponents. At the end of the day, we have to play them. So message or not, you gotta face us, we gotta face you. At the end of the night, the best team wins.”

“The league is a game of runs. You do look around and say, they might be for real. We took care of home court. No big deal.”

All of our 2019 NBA Draft content in one convenient location

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USA TODAY

All of our 2019 NBA Draft content in one convenient location

Here's all our NBA Draft coverage to get you ready for Thursday night's main event.

Analysis

Every move the Bulls make should be geared toward 2021

Forget needs: The Bulls need to draft the best player on Thursday

How the Bulls can land a max free agent this summer

Versatile Coby White makes one thing clear at Combine: 'I'm a point guard'

Bulls not a part of Anthony Davis trade but it could affect draft night

The statistical need that top NBA Draft prospects would fill for the Bulls

Cam Reddish out to prove doubters, show he's the total package

Jarrett Culver checks all the boxes as a perfect two-way wing in today's NBA

Could Rui Hachimura be an option if the Bulls trade down?

A history of the Bulls trading up and down in the NBA Draft

Here's what it would cost for the Bulls to trade up

Draft Profiles

Why Cam Reddish should be an option at No. 7

What the Bulls would get in Virginia's De'Andre Hunter

If Bulls draft for need, here's what Darius Garland or Coby White would bring

If the Bulls draft Texas center Jaxson Hayes, here's what they'd get

USC's Kevin Porter Jr. could be the steal of the draft

Why Jarrett Culver should be an option at No. 7

NBA Mock Drafts

Expect lots of movement on draft night

How does the Anthony Davis trade affect the draft?

If the Bulls trade back with the Hawks, who might they target?

Mailbags

Trade talks heating up surrounding the Bulls

Best fits for the Bulls rebuild in the draft, free agency

Heading into a crucial offseason, where will the Bulls look for help?

News

Report: Bulls looking to trade up for Vanderbilt PG Darius Garland

Report: Bulls interested in Celtics forward Marcus Morris

Patrick Beverley is a fan of Bulls assistant Roy Rogers

Cam Reddish will miss 6 weeks after undergoing core muscle surgery

Assistant coach hires could hint at philosophy shift for Bulls offense

Here's who experts around the league have the Bulls drafting at No. 7

John Paxson confident Bulls will find a player that fits the rebuild

Podcasts

Reaction to Anthony Davis trade and impact on Bulls' draft strategy

K.C. Johnson joins to talk latest Bulls offseason rumors

Ricky O'Donnell on the Bulls' chances of landing a star at No. 7

Could the Bucks go after Malcolm Brogdon in free agency?

Would the Bulls consider trading for Mike Conley?

John Paxson confident in where the Bulls' rebuild is headed

Will Cam Reddish find his place in the NBA or be a bust?

Sarah Kustok joins to talk Lottery, draft, free agency and more

Catching up at the Combine with Vinnie Goodwill

Options at 38

Will high-flying Luguentz Dort be on the board when the Bulls pick at 38?

Admiral Schofield could be an option for Bulls

Why the Bulls should take Missouri center Jontay Porter at 38

Why the Bulls should take Kansas' Dedric Lawson at 38

Ryan Hollins says Golden State Warriors would "run laps" around the '96 Bulls

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Ryan Hollins says Golden State Warriors would "run laps" around the '96 Bulls

Former NBA journeyman Ryan Hollins made waves on Tuesday, stating that Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan couldn’t “fill LeBron’s shoes”. Hollins argues that LeBron James cemented himself as the greatest player of all-time with his impact on multiple franchises and his knocking off of the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. 

Hollins doubled down on his argument, saying that the Golden State Warriors would “run laps around that Bulls team”. Shaquille O’Neal brings up the valuable point that whichever team has the upper hand would depend a lot on what rules they played on, the more physical 1990s rules or the more finesses-based and offensive-oriented current rule set. Hollins believes that the Warriors would defeat the 90s Bulls regardless of what rules they played under, and O’Neal simply could not believe it.

“Whoever’s paying him to say all this stuff, I will pay you double to stop it,” said a bewildered Shaq. He knows a thing or two about playing against the 90s Bulls, as he was a key member of the Orlando Magic team that knocked off MJ’s Bulls in six games in the 1994-95 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

With All-NBA level talent Anthony Davis now headed to LeBron’s team, we could be seeing James back in the NBA title picture sooner than later. A return to the NBA Finals stage would add even more layers to the already complex, never-ending back-and-forth over who the true GOAT is in NBA history.