Bulls

Bulls Prediction: Season will end in May instead of June

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Bulls Prediction: Season will end in May instead of June

No one should be surprised if the Bulls’ season looks better after the fact than it does through the journey, as everyone knows they have June dreams but May realities that usually stop at the feet of LeBron James’ Nike’s.

Fred Hoiberg’s new offense will take some getting used to, as well as the fact that he’ll have to juggle multiple starting lineups and changing rotations through the season.

Why?

Because continuity never seems to be a friend of the Bulls. They spend more time adjusting to new temporary realities that are more about circumstance than evolution. The Golden State Warriors realized Draymond Green was exactly what they needed in the frontcourt as a pick-and-roll defender, rebounder and floor-spreader, thus relegating David Lee to the bench.

[RELATED - NBA predictions: Which teams will come out of the East and West?]

Is the Bulls’ promotion of Nikola Mirotic the same thing or merely a function of the Joakim Noah-Pau Gasol pairing not doing as much as the front office thought it would when the Bulls swooped down on Gasol and he rewarded their faith with a career year? Is Noah a shell of himself, or willing to fully embrace this new role in a contract year?

And we haven’t even gotten to Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler having to learn how to play together as a backcourt where both players can claim top billing on the marquee? Considering they don’t have much experience looking eye-to-eye in terms of placing on the team hierarchy, it takes time — and as we know, controversy, be it real or contrived, is sure to follow if the road isn’t as smooth as many expect.

So if the best indicator of future behavior being past behavior serves true, the Bulls will take another step forward offensively while taking a half-step backward defensively, as they seemed to do in Tom Thibodeau’s last year. Then again, though, this year is the set up for the offseason, when the Bulls will be flush with cash and able to actually evolve due to flexibility.

So the Bulls are learning a new system, will go through integrating players in and out as injuries always seem to hit this franchise as well as adjusting to a annually weird schedule because of United Center commitments and oh yeah, having a head coach who has yet to roam the sidelines in an actual NBA game — not a recipe for the smoothest ride. 

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

But just because it’s not smooth doesn’t mean it won’t be mildly successful, depending on your standards.

If it’s a 50-win season, you’ll be happy. If you’re expecting a Finals appearance, you’ll be disappointed again because James — or someone else — will knock them out in the second round this year.

Unless Rose turns back the clock.

If that happens, all bets are off.

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Reaction to season opening loss to Hornets

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Reaction to season opening loss to Hornets

On this edition of Bulls Outsiders, Matt Peck, Dave Watson, and John Sabine react to the Bulls 126-125 loss to the Hornets on opening night.

0:45 - Welcome to season 2 of Outsiders

2:20 - On Bulls blowing a 10 point lead w just over 6 minutes left

5:10 - On Boylen’s rotations in the 4th quarter

7:50 - On Lauri Markkanen’s performance, lack of touches down the stretch

9:40 - Viewer comment on the loss

11:05 - Viewer comment on Coby and Dunn in 2nd unit

13:00 - Viewer comment on negative reaction to LaVine- Matt gets fired up

16:10 - On Coby White and his rookie debut

18:45 - Viewer comment on White not playing down the stretch

20:40 - Viewer comment on Markkanen and all-star chances

23:20 - Our bold predictions for the upcoming season

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls' late collapse in season-opening loss is ugly on many levels

Bulls' late collapse in season-opening loss is ugly on many levels

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Zach LaVine finally knocked down a 3-pointer, his only one of Wednesday night, pushing the Bulls ahead by 10 points with  6 minutes, 19 seconds left in the season opener.

The Bulls had rallied from a sluggish start, particularly at the defensive end, to take their second 10-point lead of the final quarter. Then, the wheels fell off.

The Hornets stormed back with a 15-1 run that featured all the elements that had defined the sluggish start---poor transition defense, lack of rotations to cover open 3-point shooters, more dribbling than passing offensively.

"We need to do a better job of executing down the stretch," coach Jim Boylen said. "When the ball sticks, we’re not as good a team. I thought the ball stuck a little bit at the end there. We gotta get good shots."

Consider this: The Bulls followed LaVine's 3-pointer with turnovers by LaVine and Coby White, who otherwise played well in his NBA debut with 17 points and seven asssists. Devonte Graham sank back-to-back 3-pointers around three point-blank misses by the Bulls, including Wendell Carter Jr.'s tip attempt of a missed driving layup by White. LaVine clanked two more 3-pointers. Otto Porter Jr. missed a 3-pointer. The Bulls inexplicably committed a shot-clock violation.

"We have to put the ball in our playmakers' hands," LaVine said. "I have to do a better job of commanding the ball, getting in pick-and-roll. Lauri had it going, put Lauri in the pick-and-roll. Spread them out. We’re playing up and down. I think we got a little bit too happy because that was our first time really getting into the game and playing like that. That’s how we want to play. At that time of the game, we can’t do that. We have to settle down. It really hurt us. We let them back into the game."

The Bulls slowed the bleeding by getting Markkanen to the line. He attempted six of his 10 free throws in the final 2 minutes, making five. But Dwayne Bacon sank the Hornets' franchise-record 23rd 3-pointer with 71 seconds remaining, which pushed their lead to four.

And then came the most curious decision of all. After Graham sank two free throws with 11.3 seconds left for a three-point lead, LaVine, with the Bulls out of timeouts, drove for a layup with 4.5 seconds left.

"I knew we were down by three. I was looking for the 3-pointer. That’s what I always look for," LaVine said. "Marvin Williams stepped out and they switched, so I knew there wasn’t that much time left so I had to get something. I knew they weren’t going to foul me at the rim, and if they did it could have been an 'and-1' opportunity. Just trying to get something and then play the foul game."

Instead, the Hornets inbounded the ball to the backcourt and killed the clock. Ballgame.

Boylen confirmed he had called two plays during the previous timeout, giving LaVine the freedom to make the decision on whether to shoot a 3-pointer or attack the rim.

"I mean we had something called, but at that time you’ve got to create," LaVine said. "I tried to go out there and make a play, got what I could. Give us a chance at the end, like I said, to play the foul game, get a steal, something like that. Just something where we’ll give ourselves a chance.’’

 Instead, the Bulls came up short.