Team must find way to get consistency from second unit
BY JOHN JACKSON email@example.com Nov 7, 2010
Updated: November 29, 2010 2:02PM
Through five games, the Bulls have been inconsistent, mistake-prone and a little unsettled. That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who was paying attention during the preseason.
The odds of a team with eight new players and a rookie head coach -- not to mention one missing its second-best player (Carlos Boozer) -- getting off to a fast start were remote, especially against a challenging schedule.
At 2-3 after a tough road loss Friday to the Boston Celtics, the Bulls aren't where they want to be, but they probably are where they ought to be.
''With how bad we played, we still lost this game by a couple of possessions,'' point guard Derrick Rose said after the 110-105 overtime loss to the Celtics. ''That should give us something to be happy about. When we jell, I think we can be a threat in this league.''
How long that takes is anyone's guess. Boozer (broken right hand) won't return before the end of the month at the earliest, and the Bulls won't be at their best until he has settled into his role as the second scoring option behind Rose.
Still, there are a few improvements the Bulls need to make immediately, especially with a brutal seven-game road trip -- the circus trip -- looming in a little more than a week.Elementary, my dear Watson
The biggest issue is with the second unit. In the last two games, the Bulls' opponents have opened big leads when coach Tom Thibodeau turned things over to his second unit after the first quarter.
''We'll keep working at it,'' Thibodeau said. ''We'll get better. [The Celtics] went 16-2 to start the [second] quarter. That's something we'll have to address and correct.''
The biggest problem with the second unit has been finding ways to score consistently. The offense just hasn't run smoothly with backup point guard C.J. Watson running the team. He's not a classic point guard and has tended to over-dribble at times.
Watson is the Bulls' only backup at the position, so Thibodeau has no choice but to stay with him. One move that might help take some pressure off Watson would be moving Ronnie Brewer into the starting lineup at shooting guard and shifting Keith Bogans to the second unit.
Bogans' veteran savvy would benefit the second-unit players, who are mostly young and inexperienced. He could take some of the ballhandling pressure off Watson, and his ability to shoot the three-pointer would better space the floor.
That's the role the Bulls signed Bogans to fill, and it's the role where he best could help the team.Big week ahead
Because the Bulls have only 13 players on their roster (two fewer than the limit), it also might be a good idea for general manager Gar Forman to sign another point guard -- a true point guard -- before the circus trip begins as insurance.
As for Brewer, he appears to be rounding into form after missing the first two weeks of training camp with a hamstring injury. Lately, he has shown some of the athleticism and defensive ability that were the staples of his game during his first four NBA seasons.
''I think Ronnie is getting his timing back,'' Thibodeau said. ''He's getting more comfortable.''
This is a crucial week for the Bulls to gain some momentum in advance of their road trip. They have three home games -- Monday against the Denver Nuggets, Thursday against the Golden State Warriors and Saturday against the Washington Wizards -- and all are winnable if they play well.
''I feel like we can definitely do things better,'' center Joakim Noah said. ''We made a lot of mistakes [Friday] that cost us, and that's what's frustrating. It was definitely a game that was winnable. But there's a lot more basketball to be played, and if we come with the right mind-set every day and we work on our defense, we'll improve.''