Is it just me or is the last five minutes of every Chicago Bulls game one of the most stressful, hard to watch five minutes of your life? It is easy to scream at the TV as if we are coaching or acting as if we as fans could play better than our favorite players.
After experiencing the emotional roller coaster of my favorite team losing another game they should have won. I finally calm down and let my heart rate slow down remembering it is only one game and the world is not over I finally sit back and rationalize after tough losses.
Something was realized after the loss on March 1 against the Denver Nuggets. The Bulls cannot buy a bucket when we need one with under two minutes left in crunch time. We either turn the ball over or take a contested three when we are only down by two points.
As I was watching Zach LaVine start to panic and pull up on a contested three early in the shot clock at the end of that game. I am literally screaming at the top of my lungs “Why did you take that shot, that’s a bad shot and we only are down by two why throw up a prayer instead of our superstar finding his spot for an easy two to tie the game?”
Do you remember how Michael Jordan was late in games? He would get to his spots typically it was his signature fade away jumper from about 15-to-18 feet. For Jordan it was a high percentage shot, but mainly it was his spot the smartest basketball play.
An easy bucket and for him it was like a lay-up, he never went for the dagger unless it was literally the final few second of regulation. He either took a high percentage shot or made the correct read to assist an easy bucket to his teammates.
How the Chicago Bulls star can learn in clutch time
Other past superstars came to mind who as well were able to close out games by getting to their spots for a quick needed bucket not a twenty-six-foot three pointer. Names like Kobe Bryant, D-Wade, and Dirk Nowitzki also come to mind. These players all have one thing in common.
They not only were game closers, but they also won more close games than they ever lost due to this high basketball IQ philosophy. Take what the defense gives you, or make the smartest basketball play possible like a two-point shot adverse to a lower percentage three pointer. Not to mention they are all Champions!
LaVine is our star so he should be the guy taking the shot or deferring to an open shooter. I just think it is time for him to start to really evolve his game to the next level. Start to become the closer we need on this team. This can be a reality if he starts to develop a mid-range game.
LaVine does make difficult shots on a nightly basis but when the game is on the line, he often bricks the dagger. That bad shot or costly turnover losses the game. Getting to his spot in the mid-range opens the floor for a better read and a higher percentage shot maybe even an uncontested one for that matter.
In the 22 clutch games the bulls have been in this season we have only won nine of them. We are below .500 and cannot afford to keep losing these close games or you can kiss any playoff hopes goodbye. Making the play in tournament would be pointless to just lose another close game.
This team is young, and they have a way to go but a lot of these losses can be prevented with a better understanding of late game execution and not forcing up shots that even the great Michael Jordan would even brick. This all begins with LaVine!
If we start winning even half of these clutch games the Bulls have been in and will continue to be in, we are a much better team, and the wins will start piling up. In a tight Eastern Conference, they have an opportunity to move up in the conference.
Simple philosophy making it happen is the challenge. I challenge LaVine and the Bulls coaching staff to either start to have Zach evolve his game or put a teammate with a better mid-range game and a better understanding of how to close out games in that position.
Maybe the Bulls have a closer on the roster waiting to be exposed already. Maybe LaVine is the passing playmaking closer instead of the shot missing closer. These are all hypotheticals but when you continue to lose close games every option should be on the table!