The best-laid plans often go awry. After a dominant showing in the preseason, the Chicago Bulls and their fans had seen the exact vision of how talented this team can be when hitting on all cylinders. But instead of coming out hitting on all cylinders to start the regular season against the Detroit Pistons, the Bulls were hit in the mouth and knocked down early.
Surprisingly enough, it was the Chicago defense (highlighted by the effort seen all game by new additions Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso) that kept Chicago in the game as the offense struggled to find some footing against an aggressive Pistons defensive scheme. After DeRozan and Vucevic missed some bunnies early in the game, the Bulls finally decided to give the pick and roll with Zach and Vuc a chance.
But the spacing of the other three players leads to help coming from either direction and forcing Vucevic into a contested shot. While not a terrible outcome, the Bulls were able to make a small adjustment between quarters that would completely change the complexion of the game. This next clip is the first pick and roll in the 2nd quarter; notice how the other Bulls players are have emptied out the entire side to isolate the defense.
Deciding to force the Pistons to make an adjustment, the Bulls ran this empty pick and roll the next 4 offensive possessions as well. Each time generating a quality shot, (as seen below) Zach was able to take control on the offensive end and after this flurry of offense had the Pistons on their heels the rest of the game. This run here was a huge moment for the Bulls being able to get this victory that last year they would have let slip away.
Going forward I expect the Bulls defense to continue to surprise but it is the offense that matters most. Given how many new pieces there are to this team the chemistry will come. But having such a simple but effective offensive set to run to get a quality shot when the offense isn’t clicking is something all great teams have. And having Zach leading that set is even better because this team is only going as far as he can take them. After the first game I can’t wait to see just how far that is this season.