The Chicago Bulls Reveal A Starting Line Up as the Milwaukee Bucks Forget to Not Foul
And a mystery is solved, the Bulls have (at least for now) a starting backcourt of Derrick Rose and Thabo Sefolosha. Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas are the forwards. Drew Gooden starts as a small center. Let’s be honest here, Sefolosha was a starter in name only. Once he sat down, it was really a 3-guard rotation between Rose, Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon. While Gordon needed half a game to warm up (sit out the pre-season, that’s bound to happen), this worked out well and revealed what appears to be a guard-oriented offense for the Bulls.
Breaking down the shots, guards took 33 shots, forwards 26 shots and centers 10 shots. Coach Vinny is really running an 8-man rotation with Sefolosha spending a few starters minutes to set-up the refreshingly effective 2nd team backcourt of Hinrich and Gordon. Andres Nocioni continues his ‘tweener ways in a 3-forward rotation with Deng and Thomas. Joakim Noah backs up Gordon as the only true center in the initial rotation.
With Gooden and Noah at center, you can pretty much forget about a classical low-post offensive game plan. Gooden’s not going to be posting that many starting centers, especially not Andrew Bogut. Noah’s offense is your classic athletic garbage scorer. That said, the Bulls were systematic, if a bit mechanical, in driving to the basket against the Bucks. Thomas and Deng, in particular, were driving hard. Deng even managed a very efficient 8-13 shooting night. If you have enough slashing activity, much like your prototypical low-post threat draws a double team, you’ll either get the opponent sagging a bit or a chance for some one-on-one play. For tonight, at least, it worked.
Defensively, the interior defense was still lacking. Fortunately for the Bulls, Scott Skiles is running true to form. Andrew Bogut is a true center with good size who can score around the rim when fed the ball. He was 4 of 4 from the field, but the Bucks certainly weren’t feeding him the ball like they could have when Gooden was on him. Skiles always did seem to prefer his guys take the jump shot. Dan Gadzuric was efficient. Bulls alum Malik Allen was efficient. If they keep Gooden in at center, some teams are going to abuse him. Tonight, the Bulls got away with it. It helped that Richard Jefferson shot a lackluster 5-17, and it helped even more that the Bulls had 24 more attempts from the charity stripe, which is where they realistically won the game.
Nothing to get too excited about just yet for Bulls fans. Rose didn’t shoot so well, but had 9 assists with 4 turnovers, you’d like it better if that were 2 turnovers, but over a 2:1 ratio for a rookie’s first game is quite acceptable. In favor of starting Gooden while Rose is on the floor, 3 of Gooden’s 4 field goals were on assists from Rose.
For the night, the Bulls shot a hair over 50%, but that’s nothing to get too excited about against a Milwaukee team that isn’t exactly a defensive power house yet (though with Skiles there, they might be by All-Star break). They didn’t really start to pull away until Gordon heated up in the second half. Then again, when you’re a guard-oriented offense, you live and die by the jump shot.
For the Bucks, this could be a long season. Charlie Villenueva didn’t quite play 9 minutes. You just knew he wasn’t possessed of the defensive inclination his coach craves and that it was going to be a bad marriage between him and Skiles. Luc Mbah a Moute, a very raw rookie, looks to be on the Skiles frontcourt Happy List, so you can probably expect him and traditional Happy List resident Malik Allen taking Charlie’s minutes. Luke Ridnour, another guy who I wouldn’t think would necessarily pass the Skiles defense test, though he is a pass-first guard, had 5 turn-overs to 4 assists. On the other hand, Michael Redd looked good, but the left hand reminds you he’s expected to eat up Hinrich and Gordon on offense as the right hand compliments his shooting.
It was the fouling that killed the Bucks. Jefferson could have shot better, but 47% from the field as a team is decent. Their offensive rebounding was decent. Their defensive rebounding, a little less so. The Bucks might be well served to have a bulkier front line of Bogut and Elson, who only sat.
The Bulls, who played like a .480 team, now go to Boston to see if they can run with the Big Dogs. The Bucks, who will be starting a decent-sized collection of lottery balls if they keep playing that way, travel to that city that isn’t Seattle to try and salvage self-respect against the team who adopted the name of an old CBA team: Thunder.
It’s just the first game of the season. Maybe it will get better. What really needs to get better is the Bucks website. Go to Bucks.com and it’s a big old splash page advertisement. That’s not a crime, but having the real site as a pop-up window, not a real link, _is_ a crime. Somebody needs to remove their webmaster’s head from the crevice it’s tucked into.