While the Dallas Mavericks continue to do as expected – beat the team they should, lose against those better than them, this season is quite the rollercoaster for the Chicago Bulls, being unable to generate a decent winning streak without getting blown out unexpectedly just when they things are going in the right direction.
The Mavs started hitting shots early and never really stopped against a usually better Bulls defense. Monta Ellis led the way scoring 22 points, leading to a 105-83 win for Dallas, outscoring the Bulls 61-34 by the end of the first half.
Dirk Nowtizki scored 18 points on a less than impressive shooting night, but that was countered by Vince Carter enjoying a great game off the bench, also adding 18 points while hitting 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Whenever you feel too good about yourself somebody smacks you. That’s a part of the NBA. You have to give them credit. They played well, they shot well. They are a terrific offensive team. They got their confidence early and then they can go all night.
The Bulls take a step backwards it seems. Jimmy Butler was awful with 2-of-10 from the field, being one of those players that epitomizes this whole season for Chicago – plenty of expectations, an injury messing it up midway and a lot of disappointment and inconsistency so far. It didn’t matter if he was playing next to D.J. Augustin or Kirk Hinrich (Butler played 46 minutes as shooting guard or small forward), the Bulls offense looked terrible.
The Mavs knew they don’t have the tools to win a physical battle, so they simply sped up things early on, with Chicago being unable to counter. Maybe having D.J. Augustin is better than Mike James and Marquis Teague, but it doesn’t mean the Bulls actually have themselves a consistent and dependable point guard to replace the injured Derrick Rose. Still not having Luol Deng to help out is quite a blow as well.
We were locked in from the jump and we didn’t have to play catch-up, and I think that’s good for our team. We had to bring more energy and we had to do it from the beginning. We had to hit those guys first because they do a great job of trying to take teams out of their game early. There is no doubt that we played well. When we rebound and defend like that, we are a formidable team. The Bulls are a very physical team. They get up on our ball handlers and can cause problems. This was a great win for us.
All the talk of energy is nice, but the Mavs have a very visible ceiling. The Bulls and the East in general present easy pickings, but when it comes to their depth, defense and general talent, there are at least five-six better teams out West which are more likely not only to finish above them in the standings when the regular season ends, but probably to knock them out in the first round of the playoffs without too much trouble.