The Milwaukee Bucks combined with this being a preseason game doesn’t really yell out a game that means anything, but it’s hard to deny the Chicago Bulls looked good on offense, as Derrick Rose joined Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol to put on an excellent performance, resulting in a 91-85 win.
Usually the numbers worth watching are the +/- of the starting players. A basketball team isn’t just five guys. Last year’s NBA finals series was a perfect example. But when it comes to NBA preseason games, it’s usually the best example of how the game went when the players on the floor were serious. Unlike the majority of teams in the league, the Bulls don’t use players, or at least didn’t in this game, that are probably going to get cut by the end of training camp.
So who did play? The lineup was Rose, Butler, Joakim Noah back from his injury, Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott getting a surprise start while Mike Dunleavy was getting rested. McDermott scored 7 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. He also showed some nice vision and flash with his assist to a Jimmy Butler alley oop, and shows that the 2014-2015 version of the Bulls, unless injuries start getting in the way, have a lot of options and the ability to change up their offense.
Rose finished with 16 points, showing his usual speed and aggression when attacking the basket, but without the shaky shot or decision making. He added five rebounds and four assists while shooting an impressive 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Rose getting back his touch from the outside, which contrary to popular belief was pretty reliable until not too long ago, might be the best way for him to look like the Rose from 2010 to 2012.
Jimmy Butler seems like the kind of guy who can’t wait for this season to begin. He’s not suffering from a toe problem anymore, his passion and aggression on defense is difficult to ignore and he seems a lot more explosive on offense than ever before. He scored 18 points, including some impressive high flying moves, to go along with 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. He didn’t get into any fights, but he still stood out a bit more than the rest.
Pau Gasol was the top scorer for the Bulls with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks. He also turned the ball over five times, but that’s the kind of thing that happens in preseason games. Off the bench it was Taj Gibson who was impressive with 11 points, while Nikola Mirotic disappointed for a second straight game with just two, and Kirk Hinrich also helped out with 7 points. This was very close to the 10-man rotation we’ll see from the Bulls this season, excluding Dunleavy who wasn’t playing.
The Bucks are in for another bad season. Jabari Parker might help out a bit, and so will the development of several other young players. Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the more exciting players to see in the NBA, especially when it comes to his ability to make a play on defense and finish on the other end seconds later, but it’s going to take at least one more season before the Bucks have a team ready to contend in the Eastern conference. Unless Jason Kidd is as good as he thinks he is.