Allow me to come to sweeping conclusions to the Jim Boylen era after exactly one game.
The Bulls played defense again. Hard defense, like the Noah days we remember so fondly. And it wasn’t just Wendell, Arch & Shaq Harrison. The whole team was getting after it. Sure, Jabari & Zach lost their man or failed to rotate a couple times, but they competed. Lauri & Wendell might’ve gotten swallowed up by Myles Turner’s size on a few possessions, but they competed. They got the right spots, or at least intended to. It felt like Chicago Bulls basketball again. I missed it.
Now, the results weren’t all great. For one, the Bulls lost. They missed a lot of shots. Stacey King mentioned that they might be short because the legs suddenly have to work hard on the other end of the court. Lauri put up 21 & 10 and got up a plenty of shots, which is ideal. Markkanen’s still a little rusty on his inside moves and basket awareness, but those 3s look pretty as ever. Carter also double-doubled and Parker looked comfortable. From what I’ve read, surmised & witnessed, I feel Jabari is among the most pleased with the coaching change. His game might benefit. The only one who might suffer some is Zach LaVine. LaVine is willing to work, no question. But Hoiberg’s system suited him best. He’ll be fine once he gets accustomed to the new regime. But Boylen visibly corrected him for an ill-advised pull-up three in crunch time that didn’t help the Bulls comeback effort. Zach can take it. Boylen didn’t do it to show him up, just to make the point for the future.
Noticed a tighter rotation with just 3 bigs: Lauri & Wendell starting; Jabari off the bench. Defensive minded subs got PT: Hutchison, Harrison and Cameron Payne, who played a pretty nice game with successful scoring drives and passes.
96-90 was the final and under-100 scores felt so good. One of the most enjoyable games of the season to watch, despite the loss. Back in the day, it’d come down to the end of the game and you’d yell at your TV: “Let’s get a stop here!” Up until last night, I never felt like the team could get a big stop down the stretch. Last night I did. Team defense. Playing both ends of the court. I hope it’s a sign of things to come.
The broadcast’s Neil Funk fill-in wasn’t bad. He stayed in his lane and talked like a human, not a play-by-play spouting robot. Better than most.