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Takeaways from Chicago Bulls loss to Miami

Will Gottlieb Avatar
November 21, 2023

The Chicago Bulls had a chance to string together a nice set of wins against the Miami Heat after winning the first of the two matchups on Saturday night.

Unfortunately, they weren’t able to secure the set. Falling to the Heat 118-100, the Bulls weren’t able to dig themselves out of another hole early, and the Heat’s game plan thwarted any comeback attempt the Bulls had in them.

Here are my takeaways from the game.

Another day, another slow start

Again, the Bulls got themselves in a 10-point hole just 2.5 minutes into the game. They were 1-of-2 from the field with two turnovers on their first four possessions. Meanwhile, the Heat were 5-of-5 with a pair of Duncan Robinson threes forcing Billy Donovan to call a timeout.

Meanwhile, the Bulls couldn’t really get anything going for themselves even after they began chipping away at the Miami lead.

LaVine took just four shots in the first half, after taking three in the first half of Saturday’s tilt with Miami.

He barely looked at the basket, quickly moving off the ball, force feeding Nikola Vucevic in the post or dribbling out the clock to end the first half.

“I’m just trying to read the play that’s in front of me,” LaVine said after the game. “Each play, each game is different. Obviously, we want to be out there and score the ball and put the ball in the basket. But every play and every game is different.”

“There’s really never, ever a bad shot when he shoots the basketball,” said Billy Donovan.

LaVine finished with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He had five assists to one turnover, but only had one free throw attempt — a technical foul shot.

DeRozan wasn’t much help either. He scored 15 on 6-of-10 with only one free throw attempt.

The Heat were zoning up the Bulls quite a bit, removing driving lanes and forcing the Bulls to either shoot over the zone or play through the middle. The Bulls shot 11-of-37 for 29.7 percent on threes and 15-0f-16 from the line, but lost the attempts battle by four.

Good White Hunting

The Heat were relentlessly picking on Coby White throughout the game. Whoever White was guarding, the Heat would send up to screen for the ball handler, mostly Jimmy Butler, where he would then escort White to the post.

In the third quarter, they attacked him five straight possessions, and many more throughout the night.

“He’s 6’7 and strong,” White said. “Out of the people on the court, I’m probably the smallest one out there. My teammates helped me out a lot and I tried to fight. Obviously I wasn’t happy about having to double and putting us in rotation. But he’s a good player. We defend with five.”

To his credit, White fought extremely hard on those plays, but he just gives up too much size.

When asked whether the Bulls give up those switches a little too easily, he replied,”Small-small red. Every time. You get hit, red. That’s our principles and that’s what we play to.”

Essentially, that means if you get hit on a screen, you’re switching every time one-through-four. These post ups required the Bulls to send help, opening up kick out passes to spot up shooters. The Bulls are willing to live and die with their rotations and scrambling out to shooters, but the Heat’s quick ball movement got the best of them tonight.

Shooting 17-of-35 for 48.6 percent, getting outscored by 18 from beyond the arc was the difference in this one.

Other notes

— White led the team in scoring with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, 4-of-8 on threes, six rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block. Despite being targeted on defense, it was his best game of the year offensively.

— Butler didn’t play the entire fourth quarter, but still managed to score 16 points on 4-of-11 shooting with nine free throw attempts. He had a skyhook in the first half and had some fun with that. He also got a foul call on a touch foul against Zach LaVine which drew some comedic moments later in the game, when Butler jokingly re-enacted the situation with DeRozan during a free throw break.

— The Bulls now fall to 5-10 on the season. ESPN’s BPI projection has them finishing 32.5 wins, the 25th record in the league. Buckle up.

Up Next: The Bulls depart for a four-game road trip starting Wednesday in Oklahoma City for a revenge match with the Thunder.

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