Bulls

Bulls Road Ahead: Offense looks to get back on track vs. Eastern Conference foes

Bulls Road Ahead: Offense looks to get back on track vs. Eastern Conference foes

The Bulls Postgame Live crew breaks down what the Bulls need to do to get back on track on this edition of the Bulls Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda dealers.

After two disappointing losses to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Bulls look to right the ship against Eastern Conference foes next week. 

The team's first attempt will come against the Detroit Pistons, who beat the Bulls, 102-91, in their last meeting. 

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The Bulls then welcome the Washington Wizards, who have climbed their way back into the playoff picture, to town before travelling to Michael Jordan's house to face the Charlotte Hornets.  

To get back in the win column, the Bulls' offense needs to put forth a stronger performance than Friday night's 69-point showing. 

"My biggest concern is on the offensive end because it's so hard for the Bulls to score," Kendall Gil said. "They need to get out on the fast break like they did the first three games of the season." 

See what else the Bulls Postgame Live crew had to say about upcoming matchups between Detroit, Washington and Charlotte in this week's Bulls Road Ahead.

 

 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver gives update on timetable to resume play

NBA commissioner Adam Silver gives update on timetable to resume play

On Monday evening, NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke on Twitter Live in an interview with TNT broadcaster Ernie Johnson. The interview was conducted as part of a program called "NBA Together." 

In the discussion, Silver was asked about a possible timetable for the NBA resuming play and the obstacles of a possible return for the league. Johnson said that this was the first time he and Silver had spoken since March 12, one day after the NBA postponed its season. He asked Silver if he had a better feel for where the league is regarding a possible resumption of play. 

"The short answer is no," Silver told Johnson. "When we initially shut down, we were calling it a hiatus or a pause. There was a notion of 30 days, because there wasn't any of the widespread view at that point that, in essence, our country would be entirely shut down over the next several weeks. And so the fact is now, sitting here today, I know less, in a way, than I did then."

Silver added that while it’s still too early to project where the NBA (or world) will be in a few weeks, he expects that at least for the rest of April — and perhaps beyond — the league “won’t be in any position to make any decisions.” It’s simply still too early to plan or predict anything about this rapidly evolving crisis with any certainty.

In that vein, when asked by Johnson if the NBA has made headway on a plan to resume the season, Silver was noncommittal, and understandably so. The commissioner said he’s learned to be wary of making any prediction in these uncertain times. 

In a recent appearance on SportsCenter, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that there is increasing pessimism throughout the league that a resolution to this season will end up being feasible. While Silver didn’t go that far, he did echo a concern that Windhorst brought up in his reporting: impacting the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

“As I look out into the summer, there does come a point at which we start impacting next season,” Silver said. “A few weeks ago, nobody thought we were talking about even potential impact on next season independent of what we might choose to do to finish our regular season and playoffs. Again, I think now, because so little is known, we're here, we're ready to go. I mean, I don't want to leave the suggestion with anybody that we're not doing everything we possibly can to restart under the right circumstances, but of course player safety and the health of everyone in the NBA family has to come first.”

Silver then went into detail on the logistical hurdles strategizing a return to action comes with, even saying the league has been in touch with potential sites to host fanless or quarantined games.

“That may mean that there is a scenario in which we can play without fans. That is something we (have) looked at lot at,” Silver said. “In fact, I think the Warriors were scheduled to play the first fanless game before we were shut down. So we are looking at that possibility and we were thinking about what that might mean.

“How would those games be televised? Would we still play in huge NBA arenas? Or would we go to practice facilities? Would we go to a single site? I mean, there's been a lot of conjecture about various cities and places that might hold a tournament. Again, we are in listening mode right now. We've been contacted by many of those jurisdictions to ask what our level of interest is and we've talked to them about what their capabilities are. But once again there's just too much unknown right now.”

But Silver strongly emphasized that health and safety considerations have and always will be paramount. Still, if a return were possible for the NBA or other professional sports, there could be great economic and societal benefit. It’s a difficult line to straddle, a point Silver understands well.

“The health of everyone in the NBA, our players, coaches, anyone who's on the front line has to come first,” Silver said. “I will say to [Ernie Johnson's] point about the greater good, we, sports collectively, in essence led the way in shutting down. And it's something I said when we were all on the call with [President Donald Trump] this weekend, I know all the leagues share this view that we'd love to be part of the movement to restart the economy.”

“Of course that can't come in a way that would compromise safety. But I think we also have to recognize that it's a public health matter to shut down the economy and leave tens of millions of Americans unemployed. It's a public health matter to isolate people.”

Ultimately, the data will dictate when a slow return to normalcy can begin. Silver believes sports can play a role in that collective healing process, but only once an “all-clear” consensus is reached. 

When that might be remains to be seen.

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Bulls observations: Michael Jordan symbolically shows out and Bulls complete sweep

Bulls observations: Michael Jordan symbolically shows out and Bulls complete sweep

Get your brooms, folks, we're going to the NBA Finals. The Bulls came back from down eight at the half to clinch an Eastern Conference Finals sweep of the Magic on their home floor, 106-101. Observations:

The Bulls single-handedly shipped Shaquille O’Neal off to Los Angeles

OK, that’s a bit strong. But this was O’Neal’s last game in an Orlando Magic uniform, and it wasn’t necessarily ceremonious.

Yes, he had his moments of dominance and finished the night with a team-high 28 points on a fiery 11-for-13 shooting and nine rebounds (he even sank 6 of 9 free throws). Embedded in that were shows of freaking physical dominance that the Bulls were largely able to mitigate throughout this series.

But it was hard to watch Dennis Rodman’s persistent prodding of O’Neal, and the waxing and waning nature of that dominance, without the context that O’Neal would a month-and-a-half later ink a big-money, seven-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers nagging in the back of your mind.

 

Overall, O’Neal (averaging 27 points and 10.8 rebounds on 64% shooting) and Penny Hardaway (25.5 points, 4.3 assists, 46.9% shooting) got theirs throughout this series — just not when it counted. A familiar third quarter Bulls flurry swung this one, just as they seemed to swing many games back in the day. The Bulls outscored the Magic 28-18 in the third quarter and 58-45 in the second half en route to a comeback victory that would have felt predestined even if we didn’t all already know the outcome.

This was Michael Jordan’s night

That feeling of predetermination largely derives from, who else, Michael Jordan. He bounced back splendidly from a pedestrian 17-point outing in Game 3 that saw him hobble off the floor nicked up in the waning moments of the fourth — by all accounts, he single-handedly willed the Bulls comeback detailed above. 

Even as the Bulls staggered through the first half (trailing 56-48 at the break while allowing the most points in a half they did all playoffs, Jordan had that look in his eyes. He poured in 21 in the first half, and largely kept the Bulls afloat. Little did we know (or maybe we did) that he’d top even that with 24 in the second half en route to 45 points on the game.

The symbolism of that figure isn’t lost on this blogger — tender-aged as I may be. Remember: This (almost) same Magic team just one year earlier knocked the Bulls out of the Eastern Conference semis, and carried former Bull Horace Grant off the United Center floor in celebration. After that series, Nick Anderson famously gave the line: “No. 45 doesn’t explode like No. 23 used to.”

Jordan — who donned No. 45 in the first part of his post-baseball-playing days but switched back to No. 23 before the '95-96 season — took that to heart (no, I don’t know that for certain, but come on). He averaged 29.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.3 steals in this series on *rubs eyes* 52/63.6/75 shooting splits. But never was he more determined, dominant and downright terrifying than in the decisive Game 4, the one that sealed the sweep. He simply wasn’t being denied this one.

RELATED: Michael Jordan played the numbers game during Bulls' sweep of Magic 

In the game, Jordan scored 45 points on 16-for-23 (69.6%) shooting. The rest of the Bulls: 51 points on 20-for-47 (42.6%). 

Some role player love

  • Steve Kerr revenge game? They couldn’t stop talking about it on the broadcast: Kerr, who scored nine points on 3-for-5 and swiped three steals in this one, did spend half of the ’92-93 season with the Magic before joining the Bulls. He hit some big shots and scurried into some disruptive defensive plays.
  • Dennis Rodman made so many big plays. Two free throws and a blocked shot late in the fourth stand out, but his work on Shaq is a huge part of what swung this series so far in the Bulls’ favor. He finished Game 4 with nine points and 14 rebounds (seven offensive) and the Bulls dominated the glass again.
  • Jud Buechler. Seven minutes. Two 3-pointers. Legend.

  • I’ve been thinking a lot about James Edwards’ mustache lately. And I’m glad I’m not the only one:

Textbook handlebar. These Bulls really had something for everybody.

The 1996 Finals — a six-game affair with Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton and the Seattle SuperSonics — kicks off on NBC Sports Chicago on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT.

Sheesh. Join us, won’t you?

Every other night through April 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing the entirety of the Bulls' 1996 NBA championship run. Find the full schedule here.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.