The 2014-15 edition of the Running of the Chicago Bulls is back, and boy did they look good against the New York Knicks. Their 104-80 win had many positive points and if you did not notice, the minutes were spread out evenly.
Coming into the season the biggest concerns were Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah’s legs. Coach Tom Thibodeau said that they would be monitored to start the season and he stuck by his word. Rose and Noah played 21 and 20 minutes, respectably, against the Knicks.
After a sluggish start, the Bulls turned it on during at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.
With great play from Taj Gibson (22 points, 8 rebounds) and Aaron Brooks (13 points, 6 assists), it made Thibodeau decision much easier to sit Rose and Noah.
The Bulls then held a double digit lead going into halftime, which became a 24 point lead midway through the third quarter. For the game the Bulls shot over 50 percent from the field.
In addition to Gibson and Brook’s good play, newly required Pau Gasol showed off his skills with 21 points and team high 11 rebounds in his Bulls debut. This is what everyone expected from Gasol, even with his own share of knee problems. It was nice to see Gasol post up defenders and taking it to the rim, rather than settling for jumps shots. Expect Gasol to be better than Carlos Boozer. A lot better.
If you are like me, the only reason you continue to watch a blowout game is to see the backups play and we got to see a nice amount of Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic.
Watching McDermett last night made me more excited about his potential. He scored 12 points in his debut, but more importantly, he looked like he had an idea of the Bulls game plan. Thibodeau used McDermett strengths which is his ability to move without the ball and stepping into shots.
Even with Jimmy Butler returning, McDermett can be a threat off the bench on a nightly basis.
The same cannot be said about Mirotic. The ability is there, but he has work to do. He seemed lost on defense, where at one point in the fourth quarter he whiffed on a steal attempt that looked like something out of a half-assed rec league game. If he does not figure it out on defense he is not playing.
His offensive game is there. He can shot and dribble well for a big man. He needs to be more physical though. It will take time for him to adjust, so do not wonder why Mirotic is not getting the minutes.
The Bulls home opener is against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the “new” big three. It will be an early test for the Bulls and a possible playoff match up.