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Takeaways from the Chicago Bulls victory over the Philadelphia 76ers

Will Gottlieb Avatar
December 19, 2023

Despite allowing 40 points to the reigning MVP Joel Embiid, the Chicago Bulls left Philadelphia with a 108-104 victory over the 76ers on Monday night. They finished their road trip 2-1 and moved to 11-17 on the season.

Here are my takeaways from the game:

Vooch and Coby connection

Nikola Vucevic and Coby White were the two most potent offensive options in the game. Vucevic had 23 points on 10-0f-18 shooting, while White led the team with 24 points on 9-0f-17 shooting, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out nine assists.

Two of those assists came in the final three minutes, on pick-and-pop threes to Vucevic.

This is not the first pair of Bulls players to ever run a pick-and-pop, but the pace with which White comes out of these screens is new, and that speed burst puts so much pressure on the big guarding in drop. In this case, Embiid is dropping back to contain the ball, but White comes out of these screens with so much pace, that it’s difficult for him to both contain and get back to the perimeter where Vucevic is camped out.

Vucevic is having a down shooting season — he’s shooting just 26.8 percent on 3.6 threes per game. He’s capable of much more, and needs to fire away on these to open up the rest of the offense.

White shouted out Vucevic for making the big plays in his walk off interview after the game. His leadership is shining, and it’s helping to restore the vibes.

Caruso’s impact

Caruso came off the bench in his return to action after missing the previous game with an ankle injury.

Every starter was in the negative in plus-minus in the four-point win. Caruso was +18.

Classic Caruso.

In addition to his 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting, four rebounds and four assists, Caruso was critical in the stretch that helped the Bulls dig out of an early 12-point hole, and preserve their leads each time the 76ers came storming back.

Late game offense

Despite an inefficient 15-point night (5-of-15 shooting), DeMar DeRozan got the nod in the clutch. The Bulls got him the ball on the left wing, but for some reason, DeRozan wasn’t attacking mismatches the way he usually does.

The Bulls’ late-game offense persists on DeRozan’s stagger screens to draw mismatches, but on three of the four plays here, he opted to hurry up the set and isolate against Tobias Harris rather than finding Tyrese Maxey or another smaller guard.

Harris is bigger than DeRozan and doesn’t need to bite on the pump fakes. He can simply stand tall and deter shots. DeRozan got himself two trips to the line, but it felt like he was leaving a bit on the table during these possessions.

Aggressive P

Patrick Williams took four of the Bulls first eight shots. He scored 13 points, and nine of his 13 total attempts were on two-point field goals. Five were at the rim. He was aggressive attacking the basket in both the half court and in transition.

On the final play of the first half, Williams slipped on a wet spot rising up for a three and looked to tweak his ankle. He stayed down for a bit, walked off the court on his own, and then played the entire second half, but didn’t look nearly as aggressive.

With Torrey Craig (heel) out indefinitely, Caruso missing time and Zach LaVine out for an extended absence, the Bulls really can’t afford to lose Williams. But more importantly, his stretch of confident play has been a huge boost to the team’s present and to his growth. He’s averaging nearly 14 points per game in the previous 12 games prior to this one.

Up next: The Bulls are back at home for a six-game homestand that goes through the rest of 2023. Starting with the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, they play the San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers.

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