The Bulls have no issue identifying the problems that still exist in Year 2 of the rebuild: Poor communication on defense, an inability to overcome adversity, and poor shot selection during key moments.
Now, how do you fix them?
“Just staying together,’’ power forward/center Bobby Portis said, when asked for a solution for at least the adversity problem. “When the tough got going [against Philadelphia], we didn’t support each other, but it was just our first time [this season] going through that, obviously, when it mattered. We can be better staying together, just trying to bring each other together.’’
It sounds good, but this has been an ongoing problem. It’s not just in the third quarter against the 76ers in the season opener.
Which leads to the bigger picture that many at the Advocate Center don’t like to discuss. Could the makeup of this roster be the problem?
Yes, Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday are veterans with great leadership skills, but is that enough? Playing good cop is fine, but sometimes you need bad cops.
The days of Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade patrolling the locker room are gone. And Joakim Noah isn’t around anymore. It might be time for Portis to assume that role.
His hard work is respected, his jab is feared. Ask Nikola Mirotic.
And according to Portis, he feels like his voice is being heard.
“Yeah, I’m comfortable with it,’’ Portis said, when asked about being a vocal leader. “I know before the game [against Philadelphia] in the huddle I told everybody that adversity is going to hit at some point. Obviously everything is not always peaches and cream. Teams go through things during the game, go through adversity, and [Thursday] night was our first test and I don’t think we responded well. But the good thing about the NBA is you have 82 games to prove yourself.
“At the same time we’ve all got to be better. We’ve been talking about defense for a week now, a week and a half, and we know we’ve got to get better.’’
Yes, an improved commitment on defense would be greatly appreciated.
The offense scored 41 points in the first quarter, but giving up 38 kind of defeats the purpose. With Portis on the bench after getting into foul trouble, the defense then allowed the Sixers to go on a 19-3 run to start the second half. The hole was too big to overcome after that.
So while “staying together’’ and “being committed to each other’’ sounds great, how can these young Bulls players actually pull that off?
Coach Fred Hoiberg offered up a solution to get over the communication hump, and for the fourth-year coach said it starts and ends with hard work in the film room and in practice.
“Well, we’re watching a lot of film,’’ Hoiberg said. “Obviously that first quarter [in Philadelphia] is as good a quarter as we’ve had in a long time, and then when the shots didn’t fall, when we got away from the movement and took tough shots, we separated and tried to do it individually. And you’re not going to have success if you continue to do that . . . that has to stop.’’
It needs to stop soon.