Bulls’ start Taj Gibson over Nikola Mirotic

Associated Press
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Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic have started every game for the Bulls this season.

Now, it appears Fred Hoiberg is shaking up his front court – for real this time.

Instead of the once-reported plan of starting Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson started over Mirotic against the Celtics tonight.

Let’s start with some raw numbers.

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the Bulls with each big-man combo:

  • Mirotic and Gasol: 99.2/100.7/-1.5 in 353 minutes
  • Gibson and Noah: 95.5/97.8/-2.3 in 234 minutes
  • Gibson and Gasol: 86.6/100.6/-14.0 in 99 minutes
  • Noah and Gasol: 92.0/88.9/+3.1 in 73 minutes
  • Mirotic and Noah: 98.8/89.4/+9.4 in 58 minutes
  • Mirotic and Gibson: 118.5/78.0/+40.4 in 36 minutes’

And here the ratings when the bigs play with Chicago’s other starters – Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Tony Snell:

  • Mirotic and Gasol: 99.8/101.7/-1.9 in 184 minutes
  • Noah and Gasol: 85.2/103.9/-18.6 in 13 minutes
  • Gibson and Gasol: 65.4/89.8/-24.4  in 13 minutes
  • Mirotic and Gibson: 120.3/31.5/+88.8 in 6 minutes
  • Mirotic and Noah: 134.7/159.9/-25.3 in 6 minutes
  • Gibson and Noah: 189.4/77.6/+111.8 in 2 minutes

Gasol and Mirotic haven’t played particularly well together. They lag defensively, though the Bulls have defended very well overall. Plus, Mirotic isn’t shooting well enough to provide big value as a floor spacer.

Gibson and Noah haven’t exactly clicked off the bench, either.

So, a change makes sense.

We haven’t seen enough of Gibson-Gasol – especially not enough positive from the duo – to feel great about this swap. Ditto the new reserve combination of Mirotic-Noah, though at least the early returns for that duo are positive.

But Gibson should provide more defensive punch next to Gasol, and Gibson’s jumper extends to mid-range. So, floor-spacing won’t be lost.

Mostly, Hoiberg should continue to experiment until he finds something that sticks.

If you’re a Comcast subscriber in Chicago, you can stream tonight’s Bulls-Celtics game here.