Maybe it’s unrelated. There’s probably no connection. But facts are facts. On November 2, the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians to clinch the 2016 World Series. On the same day, the Chicago Bulls, 3-0 up to that point, lost their first game of the season, and have lost twice more since.
Two “out-there” explanations for the Cubs making history triggering a losing streak with the Bulls?
- The Cubs win was so history-shaking, not to mention it got out the entire city of Chicago into the streets, that it sucked out any hope of someone winning in this city in the near future
- The Bulls players have been partying too hard for the last few days, and it’s showing
But the theory of the Cubs absorbing all the winning ability in the city crashes when you see the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL. Since the Cubs won game 7, the Blackhawks have won two games, extending their win streak to five, as they continue a terrific start to the season, going 8-3-1, leading the Central division.
So what is wrong with the Bulls? Defense, primarily. They’re giving up 103.8 points per game this season through six appearances, right smack in the middle (15th in the NBA). But their defensive rating is more important, and at 109.8 points per 100 possessions for their opponents, the Bulls are 25th in the league.
The losses have been painful. The first one, 107-100 to the Boston Celtics on the road, was understandable. A good, playoff-bound team, a team the Bulls beat by six points on their opening night. But what followed: Beaten by 13 points at home against the up-until-then confused looking New York Knicks, followed by a 17-point beatdown in Indiana, exactly the margin the Bulls beat them in a week earlier, has to be worrying.
Over the last 3 games, the Bulls have given up 121.8 points per 100 possessions. I mean, Michael Carter-Williams suddenly leaving the bench with a big hole is an issue, but the Bulls shouldn’t be struggling this badly. Rajon Rondo is playing poorly. He’s shooting 28.6% from the field in the last two games, and while the Bulls have other players to handle the ball, they’re almost without a point guard right now: Rondo isn’t functioning, Carter-Williams is injured. Denzel Valentine doesn’t seem ready to step up off the bench, and Jerian Grant was just something to fill up their trade with the New York Knicks, the one that sent Derrick Rose to the Big Apple.
Maybe it shouldn’t be that surprising. The Bulls last season was exactly like this: Three straight wins, four straight losses, five straight wins… you get the point. Fred Hoiberg has been unable to create an offensive identity, let alone a defensive one. The Bulls strengths work against a certain type of teams in this league, but their lineup is limited. Having someone like Carter-Williams, who has his own flaws which prevented him from taking off after winning rookie of the year, helps the Bulls second unit do things that make Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott stand out. Right now, however, the Bulls need to figure out how to stop the defensive bleeding, or the darkest predictions about how this team can work together will be coming true.