Chicago Bulls: 3 Highs and 3 Lows in loss vs Cavaliers

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bulls faced the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. Despite a hot first half, they failed to come away with the win. Check out our 3 highs and 3 lows from the game.

Taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers is never an easy task. Lebron James is going what seems like 100th season in a row at being the NBA’s best player. This offseason, the Cavaliers went all in on trying to win another championship. They signed Jeff Green, Dwayne Wade, Jose Calderon and they they traded for Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas (who has yet to play).

The Chicago Bulls have decided to go in the complete opposite direction than the Cavaliers, as they will be subtlety tanking for the first overall pick in the 2018 draft. That draft includes many future franchise cornerstones that the Bulls desperately need. Players like Luka Donic, Marvin Bagley, DeAndre Ayton, and Michael Porter Jr. do not come along every so often, so the team must do whatever they can to get one of those studs.

This was interesting game from the very beginning, as the Bulls took off to a 20-6 lead by way of the Finnish Finisher, Lauri Markkanen. By halftime, the lead was down to 3. The Cavaliers defense was alive again, and of course, Lebron James was doing Lebron James things.

3 Highs

Markkanen’s career high

When Bobby Portis decided to beat Nikola Mirotic to a pulp, rendering him inactive for at the least 4-6 weeks, Markkanen was the one thrust in the spotlight. So far the early returns of the Finnish star have been outstanding.

In his first career game against the Raptors, he had 17 points with 8 rebounds. He followed up that performance with his first career double-double against the San Antonio Spurs with 13 and 12. In a game where Markkanen was matched up against Kevin Love for the majority of the game, he still found a way to get open.

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He would finish the game with 19 points and 8 rebounds, going 5-8 from three. So far, he looks like a top candidate for Rookie of the Year behind Ben Simmons and Lonzo Ball. If he continues to be that, the Bulls could be exciting despite being a bad team.

Kay Felder’s spark

When the Hawks decided to release Felder after receiving him in a trade, the Bulls had to feel like it was a blessing in disguise. Their starter had just gotten hurt, and they didn’t trust Ryan Arcidiacano to be the backup. Step in, Kay Felder.

Against the Cavaliers, he finished with 13 points and 4 assists while shooting 50% from 3. If he can provide this kind of spark off the bench, it may be hard for Fred Hoiberg to sit him once Kris Dunn returns.

Low turnover total

Coming into this game, the Chicago Bulls had been averaging 19 turnovers per game. They finished this game with 9 turnovers, a significant decrease from what they are used to. If you noticed something odd, the Bulls seemed to be in this game until the very end.

That’s something to watch going forward once Kris Dunn, and even Zach Lavine get back. The speed that the team plays will almost surely go up, thus creating more turnover opportunities.

3 Lows

2nd unit defense

It’s hard to determine just how good the second unit is for the Chicago Bulls just based off this game, as the Cavaliers bench unit could be starters on quite a few teams in the league. In the meantime, the defense of the Bulls bench unit must step up, in this game the 5 man bench for them finished with a combined -54 in real plus/minus. Not good.

Feliciano fouls

As of now, with Mirotic and Portis both out due to their altercation, the only serviceable backup big man the Bulls have is Cristiano Felicio. In his young career, Felicio has looked like a backup big man, if he hopes to become a starter in the NBA he must take that next step.

Part of that next step will be being able to cut down on the amount of fouls he hands out on a game by game basis. In only 17 minutes of average game action, Cristiano is committing four fouls in that limited time. To see more time, he must start cut down on the fouls.

Pondexter plays bad again

It’s been over 2 years since Quincy Pondexter had seen a basketball court before last week, him playing again is a great feel good story. But for the young Chicago Bulls, he shouldn’t be playing. The team is not winning anything this year, and they need to give all the minutes they can to the young bulls to see if they will become anything.

Maybe once Bobby Portis comes back from his 8 game suspension we will see less of Pondexter, but for now, expect on seeing about 10-15 minutes of game time from the former Pelicans player. Against the Cavaliers, Quincy finished with 6 points, 2 assists, and 2 rebounds.

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Although this was a spirited effort from a clearly out talented Chicago Bulls team, they put up a great fight until the very end. In the end, all that matters is the Cavaliers have Lebron James, who dropped 34 points on the Bulls to the tune of 65% shooting. The Bulls take on the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday in Atlanta.