Chicago Bulls: 3 burning questions as Bucks take 3-1 series lead

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

1. Can This Core Actually Work?

The core of DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic stirred the pot early. DeRozan opened the season playing like an MVP candidate while LaVine was a lock for one of the All-NBA teams. Even though his play was inconsistent, Vucevic was a walking double-double.

As it stands now, DeRozan is back to being questioned about his inability to carry a team in the playoffs. LaVine is back to being considered an exciting, but injury-prone player who can’t contribute to wins. Vucevic is back to being asked about possibly being traded.

The hot start for the stars masked the truth about their fit. LaVine and DeRozan have very similar games. Both want to get downhill and attack opposing post players in the pick and roll. To do so, the paint has to be clear. That forces Vucevic to the perimeter, an area where he can play well but isn’t at his best.

To worsen the deal, DeRozan’s 3-point shot is solid at best. So, when LaVine, or any guard, is attacking, they don’t have a viable kick-out in DeRozan. He also isn’t a high quality read-and-react player when it comes to movement. When he isn’t involved in the play, he stands and waits for the play to develop and only moves to crash the boards.

In the case of LaVine, he has the jump-shot to play off-ball. The problem is his court awareness. He hasn’t figured out the difference between good shots and the best shot. In Game 1, LaVine took a costly poor shot with under 40 seconds to play that cost the Bulls the. game. Instead of rotating the ball or even attacking the paint, LaVine took a long step-back 3-pointer over Holiday. He missed and the Bucks got the rebound and scored, sealing the win.

In Game 4, he scored 12 points in the first quarter, then resorted to tough fadeaway and weird off-balanced 3-pointers. His passing is suspect at best, so he isn’t hitting cutters, or even the roller in Vucevic.

This brings forth the question — can this core gel? If not, they need to be broken up starting down-low. If the front office feels head coach Billy Donovan, or even another coach, can make their strengths work together, then it’s worth giving another year.

No matter the answers to these questions, the Bulls must figure out the biggest one of all — how can they keep their season alive this week?

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