COMMENTARY | With three losses in their first four games, the Chicago Bulls have failed to live up to even the most conservative expectations. It has not been a fun ride.
And after the Bulls were defeated 97-80 by the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday evening, several players and head coach Tom Thibodeau offered up varying reasons for the sluggish start that were on point. What Joakim Noah added to the conversation, however, missed the target by a wide margin. More on that in a just a bit, but let's start from the top.
When Derrick Rose was asked for an assessment, for example, he noted that "our spacing gets kind of stagnant sometimes," via ESPN.com's Nick Friedell." That's something that we really got to look at, and that's something that we really got to work on," Rose added before saying that the Bulls simply have "to get used to it."
There you go, Derrick. It really is a matter of letting all of the pieces come together to form a collective capable of great things. There is no fluidity right now. No spacing. And that is a sentiment shared by Thibodeau, who called his team "inconsistent," according to the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson.
Another reason the Bulls are off to such a rough start is that Rose isn't slowing things down enough when he is double-teamed. "I just got to make the game simple," he said. "When it comes to a double-team … I have to make the easiest play possible. But I'm over-thinking it sometimes and that's leading to turnovers."
From forced shots and bad passes, Rose is not consistently playing with the patience his position demands.
So some of the issues are spacing, lack of cohesion, and mental mistakes on the part of the point guard. Notice how effort is missing from the conversation? Well, it was, at least, until Johnson asked Noah for his take.
"They wanted it more than us," Noah lamented Wednesday night. "They got to every loose ball, every rebound. Just took it away."
It is true that the Bulls were beaten on the glass and the Pacers got to more than a few loose balls, but it did not appear the team wasn't trying. Indy is simply a better team right now.
And that's OK -- for the moment. The Bulls have plenty of time to get their house in order. What's not OK is that Noah's comments marked the second time in one week that he pointed to effort as the reason why the team is off to such a slow start. The first instance of the big man knocking the team's energy level occurred after their 107-104 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Noah said that "we can't let teams play harder than us," and the lack of effort was "the disappointing thing" for them, per Friedell.
Here's the rub. The disappointing thing about the Bulls this season is not that the team lacks hustle, it is that they are not executing on offense. Simply put, it is taking longer than expected for the "read and react" offensive wrinkles Thibodeau put in during the preseason to take root.
To be fair, Friedell did quote Noah saying after the Pacers game that "we've got to get our groove as a unit, as a group, we got to get our groove," and Johnson noted that the University of Florida product said he is "working hard every day, trying to get better." That is the only way to think, and each time he intimates that the other team played with more desire, he is doing the rest of his Bulls' teammates a disservice.
Effort is not the issue, nor is talent -- practice and spacing are. Success will come as the result of repetition.
To quote Thibodeau, the Bulls "have to get into the gym and work (their) way out of it."
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- Joakim Noah
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- Derrick Rose
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