Bulls

Dwyane Wade vents after Bulls blown out by Celtics

Dwyane Wade vents after Bulls blown out by Celtics

BOSTON — Of all the metrics that could be described to best illustrate yet another disappointing effort for the Bulls in their 100-80 loss to the Boston Celtics Sunday afternoon at TD Garden, one snapshot stands out as they simply submitted from the opening tip.

On consecutive possessions after turnovers and misses, only one Bull crossed halfcourt as the Celtics increased their lead to 29 with uncontested layups in the third quarter.

It prompts the question, given the five-game losing streak and the manner in which it’s happened recently, of whether the Bulls have given up on the season — despite being in playoff contention.

"No, I don’t think we're giving up," Jimmy Butler said. "We're just not playing any type of good basketball as a whole. We gotta get back to winning basics before we can try to do anything else. Getting back in transition. Guarding the way we’re supposed to be. Taking the right shots. I'm sure we're gonna talk about that for awhile before we play Charlotte.

"But we're not giving up, I can tell you that."

Not much changed from Friday night's showing or strategy against the Houston Rockets. Fred Hoiberg played 11 players in the first half, with only Michael Carter-Williams being the change.

"It's tough," Dwyane Wade said. "Especially when you're playing teams that's ready for the playoffs, besides Orlando. It's all been playoff teams and they're ready. They know what they gotta do. We're still… experimenting."

Whether it actually played a part in the Bulls' worst first quarter and first half showing is up for speculation, but shooting three for 22 in the first quarter against a Celtics team that wasn't playing swarming defense.

"I don't think it was a lack of competing but a lack of shot making," Hoiberg said. "Missed some really good looks and turned it over four times in that span. But to answer your question, the vets are staying positive and that's the only way I can judge it right now."

They missed their first 12 shots from the field before Wade bailed them out with a jumper and the Celtics jumped out to a 20-4 lead as the Bulls mustered just nine points in the quarter.

Wade, who finished a career-low minus-37 on the plus-minus scale, offered some level of shelter for Hoiberg, as the Bulls coach and players have been put in an impossible position since the trade deadline.

"It does, it does. A lot of people have a lot of things they can say about Fred as a coach but I will defend him on this: this is a tough situation he's been put in," Wade said. "I'm glad I'm on this side, glad I got a jersey and I don't have to make certain decisions because it is tough. No one is going care too much, Fred gets a nice paycheck, I got a nice paycheck, Jimmy gets a nice paycheck. This 2016-17, we all go down together no matter what the story is. And it's on us."

Watching his words given how calling his teammates out went several weeks ago, Wade was asked if it was fair of him to answer questions about a situation no one in the locker room created.

"I don't know. I wish upper management could be answering the questions because I'm tired of answering them every game," Wade said. "I don't know. I wish I had the answer. I don't wanna say too much, I don't wanna say the wrong thing. I just wanna get out there, try to play and lead. Figure out a way me and Jimmy can be better. Right now they're just watching us on pick and rolls, we gotta find a way to be better, so we can help everybody else be better."

Wade might've washed out his defense of Hoiberg when Wade suggested he and Butler are too easy to guard, saying "pick and rolls, that ain't it." Wade said he and Butler would have to get with the coaching staff before Monday's game in Charlotte to try to figure out new strategies to get them easier looks — because at this stage, opponents have figured the Bulls out and the word is spreading to trap Wade and Butler, then wait on the house of cards to fall from there.

The nine was the season-low for any quarter this season — which was one short of the players Hoiberg used in the first as Nikola Mirotic was further embarrassed by being listed as inactive in place of Isaiah Canaan.

Butler's post-All Star slump continued as he shot just two for 11, but it wasn't as bad as Bobby Portis' nightmare.

Airballs, turnovers, you name it, Portis probably did it as he struggled as much as he has at any point during this stretch since the trade of Taj Gibson.

The problem is, he wasn't the only one as the Celtics didn't break a sweat. Wade shot four for 11. Joffrey Lauvergne was one for seven. Rajon Rondo was one for five.

Overall, the Bulls shot 36 percent as Denzel Valentine made a dent in the scoring column with 13 but all came when the game was out of reach — and the playoffs look not too far behind.

Once the Celtics' lead reached double figures at 10-0 with 7:44 left in the first quarter, the Bulls never got it under 10.

There was no need for an Isaiah Thomas explosion, although he and Avery Bradley had a field day against the Bulls' guards. Thomas scored 22 and Bradley 17, with each playing under 30 minutes.

Rookie Jaylen Brown showed some signs why he'll be a big piece in any trade discussions this summer, with a couple highlight plays in his 21 minutes.

But the Celtics didn't blow out the Bulls with red-hot shooting or otherworldly efficiency, although they corralled plenty of loose balls and hit 14 triples.

They simply didn't need to bring their best game because their opponent forgot to bring any game to TD Garden.

The long-awaited debut of the Bulls starting lineup, rusty Wendell Carter Jr. and all

The long-awaited debut of the Bulls starting lineup, rusty Wendell Carter Jr. and all

After getting a look at each point guard in the starting lineup this preseason, Jim Boylen finally got a look at what appears to be his starting lineup for Opening Night. 

Tomas Satoransky started as the point next to Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. That group was down 10-7 when Carter subbed out at the 8:36 mark but looked better in later stints in the game. 

Carter was noticeably slow on his first step on his defense, specifically on plays where Raptors center Chris Boucher was able to use his speed and length advantage to finish at the rim. But he was solid on the glass, even chipping in on the offensive rebounding side of things, grabbing 3 offensive boards in the first half alone. 

Carter was clearly re-adjusting to the speed of NBA basketball and as play-by-play broadcaster Stacey King noted during the game, he "just doesn't have his legs underneath him." He was 1-6 from the floor, struggling to get lift as he went up for putback layups around the basket. 

That being said, he was decent, more so on the defensive side of the floor where he became more active as the game wore on.

In his 16-minutes stint, Carter posted 10 points, 7 rebounds, an assist and a block, while picking up 3 personal fouls. 

Outside of Carter's return stint, the Bulls new-look starting group looked solid and offers hope as we approach the start of the NBA regular season.

4 takeaways from the shorthanded Bulls' preseason loss to the Pacers

4 takeaways from the shorthanded Bulls' preseason loss to the Pacers

The Bulls dropped to 0-3 on the preseason with Friday night’s 105-87 loss to the Pacers in Indianapolis. Here are four takeaways:

One of Jim Boylen’s main offseason mantras drew its first test

The Bulls’ coach liked to use the word “redundancy” when discussing his input towards management’s reshaping of the roster. Too often last season, Boylen felt, the Bulls had to change their game plan or style of play depending on what personnel was available.

This season, with the additions of versatile players like Tomas Satoransky, Thaddeus Young and Coby White, Boylen’s goal was to play the same way no matter which lineup he used.

Boylen’s decision to rest Satoransky, Young, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter Jr. offered the Bulls their first true test. Results proved a mixed bag.

With Wendell Carter Jr., Chandler Hutchison and Shaq Harrison still sidelined by injury, Boylen started Kris Dunn, White, Denzel Valentine, Luke Kornet and Daniel Gafford. Cristiano Felicio and Adam Mokoka were the first two reserves off the bench.

The Bulls wanted to play fast and keep their 3-point attempts high. White, in particular, stood out with his consistently aggressive offensive approach. The rookie finished with 24 points on 10-for-22 shooting and continues to look unfazed by the big stage. He added eight rebounds but failed to record an assist.

But the Bulls shot just 5-for-27 from 3-point range after attempting 38 and 37 in the first two games. Valentine missed four of five and shot 1-for-9 overall, failing to take advantage of his first big opportunity of this preseason.

The guard rotation is basically set

Boylen’s decision to sit Satoransky with other starters and play Dunn again telegraphed intentions to start Satoransky in the regular season alongside LaVine.

But Dunn continued to show why there’s a role for him as a reserve wreaking havoc at the defensive end. Dunn finished with six steals, which was good since he committed seven turnovers. Dunn continues to struggle with his decision-making. His passes seem a split-second slow this preseason.

White is making it virtually impossible to keep him out of the rotation. Over the summer, Boylen talked with his coaching staff about using White roughly 20-24 minutes per game. So look for him to back up LaVine and play off the ball more but still able to push it in transition in the multi-ballhandler system. He and Dunn can play off each other.

Ryan Arcidiacono showed his value

Some fans and league observers expressed surprise when the Bulls re-signed the gritty guard to a three-year, $9 million deal. But Arcidiacono, who only played seven mop-up minutes in Wednesday’s loss to the Pelicans, demonstrated again how he’s the type of player who can sit for several games and then contribute if given minutes.

This doesn’t even take into account Arcidiacono’s strong practice habits.

Arcidiacono scored one basket on a classic, old-fashioned pump fake, spin and scoop in the lane, barely jumping. And he executed one textbook boxout of Domantas Sabonis, who is eight inches taller.

The backup center battle remains legitimate

Assuming Carter is healthy, who backs him up between Kornet and Gafford could be based on the opponent. Both have made impacts in different ways.

Gafford posted nine points, eight rebounds, five steals and two blocks and continued to run the floor like his life depended on it. His defensive presence and energy could be needed on some nights.

Kornet is more offensive-minded but, at 7 foot-1, offers rim protection. He scored on one fadeaway, one-legged jumper in the first quarter that recalled vintage Dirk Nowitzki.