Donovan believes Bulls' defensive style is sustainable

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan yells to his team during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in Philadelphia.

    Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan yells to his team during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in Philadelphia.

 
 
Updated 11/3/2021 8:11 PM

Not many people expected the Bulls to have a top-10 defense this season. But at the start of Wednesday's action, they ranked fifth in points allowed, sixth in defensive rating and eighth in field-goal percentage defense.

Before the game in Philadelphia, Bulls coach Billy Donovan was asked if he thought the Bulls can maintain the energy to sustain their scrambling, turnover-creating defensive style.

 

"I think in today's NBA game you have to play defense like that because so many teams are just moving and cutting," he said. "Forget about having to rotate, just the chasing of guys. Chasing guys off dribble-handoff, chasing them off pick-and-roll, chasing them off screens, chasing them in transition."

So maybe, in theory, the Bulls' defense is good because they are built to play this style. Center Nikola Vucevic has never been renowned as a strong defender or rim protector, but successful NBA defense is mostly about executing a plan with all five players on the court.

"Sometimes our rim protection has to come from the weakside, and then when we do get pulled in a little bit, we're going to have to be able to scramble and rotate and cover for each other," Donovan said. "I think we can sustain it. I don't sense that it's like we're pressing full-court and playing 94 feet. We've got to do it really collectively. I feel like we can."

Ayo finds openings:

Rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu scored a season-high 14 points Monday at Boston and was one of the first players off the bench against the 76ers on Wednesday. He talked about a lesson learned last week.

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"In the Knicks game, there was a shot (opportunity) in the corner when D-Rose closed out on me," Dosunmu said. "I didn't shoot it, so my coaches told me next time you're open, just step into it and knock it down. Throughout the whole week I've been working on catch and shoot.

"I know DeMar (DeRozan), Zach (LaVine), Vuc (Nikola Vucevic), they're so good the attention is on them. When I was at Illinois, I was used to the attention being on me, so when they're making their move, I know how to be in the right spots and try to make the shots."

Rivers recalls Spectrum:

The 76ers debuted their city edition uniforms, which paid tribute to the Spectrum, the nondescript arena they called home from 1967-94.

Asked about his memories of the Spectrum, Sixers coach Doc Rivers correctly identified pa announcer Dave Zinkoff as the arena's best feature. Zinkoff's droll, creative delivery made him an NBA legend.

"I loved it. I loved the announcer, Zinkoff, even though he gave us no love," said Rivers, who played for the Atlanta Hawks in those days. "One of my first starts, I think I guarded Dr. J in the first quarter, which didn't go well for me. I think we were trying to keep Dominique (Wilkins) out of foul trouble, so I was the sacrificial lamb."

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