After giving up their highest point total in the last five years, the Chicago Bulls have a very difficult challenge in the form of the Oklahoma City Thunder as they try to figure out if something is wrong with their defense, or it was just a one-night thing.
Considering their other four games this season (it’s hard determining these things based on just five games, be it through statistics or the eye test), the Bulls haven’t been doing such a bad job so far. The only other game in which they gave up 100 points was in a 15-point win over the Brooklyn Nets. The 130 points they allowed against the Hornets might point to a specific problem they have with Charlotte (or certain types of players), but maybe not towards a general problem.
It was an individual effort tonight and it seemed as if no one had anybody’s back. We didn’t make them make the extra pass. They outrebounded us by 19 and you can go all the way down the line and it just wasn’t there and we have been pretty solid on that end of the floor. They just beat us in all areas tonight.
The Bulls are 15th in defensive efficiency this season so far, giving up 98.7 points per 100 possessions, although the Hornets loss skewed that completely. They’re allowing just 41.9% from the field to their opponents, which is a lot more in line with the Bulls we’ve gotten used to. The Hornets shot 51.6% from the field in their win, and the Bulls have been keeping teams under 40%, including the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers. On the other hand, it might be that most teams struggle with shooting early in the season, not just the “perfection” of the Bulls defense.
There’s also a rival in this game, one that’s not used to losing back to back games. The Thunder are coming off close losses to the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors. Either way, they’re difficult to stop, averaging 107.7 points per 100 possessions, 2nd only to the Warriors so far this season. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook haven’t been consistent, but they, along with Enes Kanter, have been incredibly difficult to stop. The Bulls are at a much lower place (97.6 per 100 possessions), and probably won’t be able to keep up at the moment, although this kind of challenge might offer an opportunity to finally explode.