To interrupt the next series of losses, the key for the Chicago Bulls may lie in the first minutes of the game.
The Bulls have developed a habit of digging holes against major opponents, using their victories and defeats on their ability to win back. The Bulls have never been a particularly hot team, gaining an average of 27.4 points this season in the first quarter as they often succeeded through acquisitions in the fourth quarter. But the team has scored just 22.7 points in the first quarter of its last three games, joining on Friday night against the Phoenix Suns.
Even if they don’t lose directly in the first quarters, the Bulls won’t win them. They bypassed just two opponents – the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers – in three sets of the first quarters after a break at the All-Star Game. Two of these games brought victories.
That trend was hardest hit on Monday in Sacramento, California, where the Bulls scored 17 points in the first quarter against the Kings.
“We started wrong. We got punched in the mouth, ”security guard Zach Lavigne said after the loss. “We have to start beating these teams in the mouth. It starts at the top and flows down. We can’t cut by 20 to play the way we should. “
When it comes to starting games, LaVine sets the tone. Teammates like rookie Ayo Dosunmu and third-year guard Kobe White coincide with his aggression when he scores in the basket. His role as a secondary ball handler also sets the pace for the Bulls – the more he rides on the rim, the more opportunities open up for Nikola Vucevic and Demar Derozan.
LaVin knows this and takes it seriously, blaming Sacramento’s slow start on himself for passing the game on tiptoe. He immediately made a turn in the next game in Salt Lake City: two assists, two interceptions and seven points from five attempts in the first quarter to keep the Bulls on par with the Utah Jazz.
The key balance for Bulls coach Billy Donovan is to help LaVina regain confidence in his left knee without overloading the guard due to injury.
“Every time you have an operation on PKS like his and you’re dealing with knee problems, it’s going to be a little more awareness,” Donavan said. “But it’s also part of his growth. How does he go out and do it? For him, it’s new that he had to do it, and he’s trying to give the band everything he has. But I think he’s also trying to figure out how he can be productive, not ease his way into the game and be more aggressive. ”
For Donan, the way the Bulls start and end the game reflects the team’s relative inexperience, which was a focal point for Donavan during the last half of the season when the Bulls worked to become legitimate competitors after the season.
In the last part of the season, rival teams found counterattacks against the attack, and the “Bulls” are trying hard to make adjustments. In Miami, Derozan said the Bulls needed a full half to adjust to Heath’s suffocating perimeter defense.
Although Derozan is better prepared for the postseason, Donovan has focused on using this latest series of games to raise players like LaVin, Dosunmu and even Vucevic who had no experience in the playoffs. The next step in player development, Donavan said, is to accelerate in-game adjustments before the break.
“It’s attention to detail and concentration,” Donavan said. “This is an opportunity to enter the line of free throws and not (not) think about the last game or the next game. … This ability to move quickly to the next. That’s where we need to be the best. “