Submitted by National Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
The Chicago Bulls fell to the Milwaukee Bucks 105-102 in the opening game of the new season for both teams.
Here are 10 takeaways from the defeat:
— The teams took different approaches in dealing with the trainees’ issue. In his first appearance as an NBA coach, former Bulls player and assistant coach Adrian Griffin sat down with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard and Khris Middleton. Meanwhile, Bulls coach Billy Donovan followed a familiar script, playing with veteran players who didn’t like to play games and starting Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic.
— As expected, Coby White and Patrick Williams joined the starting lineup. While Donovan told reporters in Milwaukee that no guard has separated himself in the competition for the starting job between White, Jevon Carter and Ayo Dosunmu, it may be White’s job to lose. Keeping the duo of White and Williams makes sense after the chemistry they showed last season after Williams was moved to a reserve role. Additionally, the development of White and Williams is crucial to the future of the series.
— As Donovan alluded to at media day last week, he “stunned” Williams and brought on Torrey Craig as the first backup at 7 minutes, 28 seconds of the first quarter. Williams then started the second quarter with the rest of the reserve unit — Dosunmu, Carter, Alex Caruso and Andre Drummond.
— Donovan has said multiple times that his rotation will be a work in progress throughout the preseason — and could include adjustments during the regular season. But the second unit of Carter, Dosunmu, Caruso, Craig and Drummond had tremendous defensive potential and came on in the final 3:06 of the first. Caruso, who spoke about the unit’s potential in this matchup with NBC Sports Chicago, followed with a steal in their first minute together.
— The Bulls made 12 of 35 3-pointers in the first quarter. Many of the attempts came either in transition or off the drive and kick after “paint attacks,” a major talking point and point of emphasis during training camp. It’s well documented that the Bulls were the only team in the NBA that didn’t attempt at least 30 3-point attempts per game last season. Overall, the Bulls finished 13-for-35 from 3-point range.
— Carter, Drummond and Craig started the second half, with LaVine (nine points, three assists), DeRozan (seven points, one block) and Vucevic (four points, four rebounds) playing only the first half. Vucevic only took one 3-pointer among his three shots as the Bulls tried to utilize Vucevic more as an offensive center and in the middle of the post.
—Crime will be a work in progress. The starters returned in a stagnant second quarter stretch on several possessions. Overall, the Bulls are clearly trying to play faster, both in transition and in the half court through paint attacks, drives and kicks. The Bulls outscored the Bucks 25-17 on fast break points.
— Williams scored 22 minutes and took two shots on a sequence where he grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled into the zone and let it fly. Besides a dunk attempt in traffic, Williams played with remarkable intensity. He finished the game with 13 points and two rebounds. Williams still needs to improve his follow-ups. Donovan has talked about wanting to see him average more. But he took six 3-pointers, a team-high, to make three.
— Craig talked about adding a competitive edge and toughness to the team that he felt was lacking a little in those departments when playing against the Bulls as a competitor. He made an immediate impact in his first-quarter minutes, playing with energy and intensity at both ends. Craig finished with seven points, four rebounds and two steals in 19 minutes.
— White scored a team-high 23 minutes and finished with 14 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals. He really shined on both ends, especially by constantly pushing the pace and trying to attack the paint. White finished two laps but showed his poise with a jump pass in traffic to Williams for one hoop.
“I noticed this summer when I went out in June to see him. He looked different physically. The ball just seemed like a little bit more to him,” Donovan told reporters in Milwaukee after the game. “I think his confidence with the ball has really increased.”
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