COMMENTARY | Wednesday night's 97-80 loss to the Indiana Pacers served as a stark reminder that the Chicago Bulls still have ample work to do in rejoining the discussion of which teams actually have a shot at dethroning the Miami Heat as current kings of the NBA.
The loss also magnified a momentary blueprint on how to back the Bulls into a corner. And until Derrick Rose is able to completely shake the rust from his 18-month layoff -- and one or two of his teammates can consistently contribute on the offensive end of the floor -- Chicago's slow start could reach well beyond its current 1-3 mark.
The Pacers relentlessly stuck Rose with a double-team, especially in the second half -- creating frustration and spacing issues that led to only 11 made baskets. After scoring 12 total points in the opening two frames, the former MVP suddenly found himself struggling to do what he does best: facilitating the offense and either finishing near the rim, or finding the open man.
Rose does not seem too worried just yet and is used to the treatment from his opponents.
"It's not a problem for me," he said. "I've been getting double-teamed for a couple of years now. I just got to make the game simple: When it comes to a double-team, make the easy play and let my teammates work on the back side, the offensive side. But for me, I have to make the easiest play possible. But I'm overthinking it sometimes and that's leading to turnovers."
The main concern for the Bulls at the moment, however, is figuring out exactly what the first step is toward correcting their inability to keep up on the scoreboard. It is a classic case of the "chicken or the egg" argument.
Should Chicago wait as Rose attempts to find his preinjury form (physically and mentally), or will tinkering with the rest of the roster -- whether that be jumbling the lineup, handling minutes differently or exploring trade options -- be the more likely fix?
The answer is simple: Patience, which head coach Tom Thibodeau apparently has plenty of.
"We got to work and we got to work together," he said. "That's the big thing: We've got to work together. That's how you build chemistry. That's how you learn how to play off each other. That's how you learn how to cover for each other. … For us right now, we're inconsistent. We have a good quarter, bad quarter, good quarter, and you can't win in this league like that."
Though much of the roster is still intact from prior to Rose's departure, there are a few new faces and the starting five (with the addition of Jimmy Butler) is still learning to play together.
Does Rose have to trust his instincts more on the court? Will Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng need to be more reliable second- and third-scoring options? Should Butler's part be more defined? Are the role players going to have to eventually step up?
Simply put, yes. But to dismiss this team after just four games is without merit.
Rose and the Bulls are too talented, and Thibodeau is too good of a coach to not be able to figure things. The ride might not be as smooth as one would have expected thus far, but it is only a matter of time until this group finds its way.
Jeremy Sickel has successfully created and operated numerous websites. His work can be read on Yahoo and Bleacher Report, and he has also appeared on various podcasts and sports talk shows around the country. Interact with Jeremy on Twitter @JeremySickel.
- Sports & Recreation
- Derrick Rose
- Chicago Bulls
- Indiana Pacers