Chicago Bulls: Defense exposed in embarrassing loss

Chicago Bulls (Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bulls (Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Chicago Bulls disappointed on opening night.

The Chicago Bulls laid the mother of all eggs on opening night, getting absolutely drubbed by the Atlanta Hawks. The final was 124-104, and although it might be hard to imagine considering the margin of victory for the Hawks was 20 points, the game wasn’t even THAT close.

In fact, at one point during the game, the Bulls found themselves down a whopping 40 points, 108-68 in the third quarter before Atlanta hit cruise control and mailed it in for the final quarter and change.

It was a giant letdown of a game for a fan base that came into the season very hopeful. Perhaps overall expectations weren’t that high, but with a new coach in Billy Donovan and a top-5 pick in Patrick Williams, along with a more seasoned Coby White and Wendell Carter, and an even more motivated Lauri Markkanen, fans certainly had reasons to be optimistic.

While certainly not the end of the world, it did let a little air out of the balloon. Speaking of being deflated, fans had to feel that way after watching an utterly atrocious defensive effort from the Bulls.

Yes, it was only one game, but they came out of it with a Relative Defensive Rating of 9. What’s more, is all five starters had an overall negative +/- rating for the game, with Markkanen’s -34 the worst of the bunch.

Wendell Carter and Coby White each looked fairly lost on the defensive end for most of the night, which is a serious concern. Although they are getting used to a new system perhaps, they have had their defensive struggles in the past as well, so maybe this isn’t strictly scheme related.

One thing that is clear is that the Bulls will have to strike some kind of balance. Last season, under Jom Boylen, the team emphasized defense to the detriment of the offense. Again, it’s a small sample size of one game but the defense was completely non-existent.

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There’s no need to panic yet, as Donovan will surely put an emphasis on defense prior to their next game against the Indiana Pacers on December 26th, but it is definitely something to monitor. Once is a blip, twice is a concern, and three times can be considered a trend. Let’s hope the Bulls nip this one in the bud.