The Chicago Bulls are a .500 team, 14-14. They should be a little better than that record-wise, they have a top-10 defense and a good enough offense, they just tend to have bad fourth quarters, and it’s cost them (as it did against the Wizards Wednesday night, when the Bulls shot 7-of-24 for the quarter and lost the game by 10).
Part of the problem in that loss — the Wizards turned those misses into transition buckets the other way. That’s easier to do when you have John Wall, arguably the fastest player end-to-end with the ball in his hands in the game (Russell Westbrook is in that conversation).
Rajon Rondo was honest about the other half of that — the Bulls are not the most athletic team in the league. They are vulnerable to athletic teams they let get out and run. The Bulls need to get by more on high IQ plays and veteran instincts, something he discussed with K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
“We’re not going to be probably the most athletic team out there on the floor every night,” Rajon Rondo said after Thursday’s practice. “Out of 30 teams, we might be bottom three or four in athleticism. But we can make that up with intelligence. We can make that up with game-plan discipline. We have to do the little things, the intangibles to get back in transition in the fourth quarter.”
Also, just making some shots so the other team has to take the ball out of the basket helps.
The Bulls front office talked about getting more athletic in the wake of the Derrick Rose trade last summer, but this team is not that. It can still win a lot of games, but come the playoffs that lack of athleticism could be an issue depending on the matchup.
In the short term, the Bulls need to keep executing to make sure they make the playoffs. Right now they are in the middle of the clump of teams in the East — only 2.5 games separate the four and 11 seeds in that conference. The little things (and health) will determine who even gets into the dance.