Chicago Bulls: Donovan says defense at times vs. Hawks was ‘just awful’

Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan had a pretty on point take with the way his young team played in their Dec. 23 tough loss to the Hawks.

It feels like the Chicago Bulls first-year former Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan really hit the nail on the head when discussing the way his team played in their regular season opener. The Bulls faced the Atlanta Hawks to tip off the 2020-21 regular season slate at home back on Dec. 23 at the United Center.

And the result from that game for Donovan and the Bulls was not what was desired and/or anticipated, as they fell short to the Hawks by the final score of 124-104. Falling short in that convincing of fashion did not help the Bulls case in trying to build momentum off a solid finish to their four game preseason slate.

The Bulls finished up their preseason schedule with a record of 3-1, with their last outing resulting in a solid road win over the Thunder back on Dec. 18. They also rounded out the preseason on a three-game winning streak.

Moreover, what Donovan had to say after his team’s “stinker” on Dec. 23 against the Hawks was pretty on point. He summarized his team’s loss to the Hawks by stating that he thought there were bits and pieces of flashes, but there were points where the team was “just awful for way too long”.

The part of this statement where he whiffed was stating that the defense wasn’t “just awful” for the entire game. They were pretty bad on that end of the floor for the entire 48 minutes. The Bulls had a defensive rating after the game above 117, which is never ideal.

It was also a difficult task for the Bulls to contain star point guard Trae Young at any instance. Young finished up with a game-high 37 points. He was ultra-efficient shooting in this game, going 10-of-12 from the field, 12-of-14 from the free-throw line, and 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. To go along with his 37 points, Young registered six rebounds, seven assists, no steals, no blocks, and four turnovers.

As bad as this game was on the defensive end of the floor for the Bulls, at least there’s some hope that they could improve in the near future. This was a long offseason, and it may take a while for them to get more accustomed to the schemes under Donovan.

It won’t be easy for the Bulls to rebound in their next game. They get their first divisional foe of the season so far at home at the United Center on Dec. 26, against star big man Domantas Sabonis and the Indiana Pacers.

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The Pacers come into their Dec. 26 showdown with the Bulls with a record of 1-0. Their last game resulted in a comeback win in the second half over the New York Knicks on the road, by the final score of 121-107. The Bulls and Pacers will tip off this weekend on Saturday night at 7 p.m. CT.