CHICAGO – Many have credited the Bulls’ ability to overachieve a little bit during the 2020-2021 season to the impact that new head coach Billy Donovan has had on the group.
He’s brought a fresh perspective to a roster that consists of mostly the same players that won just 22 games during a pandemic-shortened 2019-2020 campaign. The veteran coach has been able to get more out of the group than his predecessor Jim Boylen, and the team remains in playoff contention with two months left in the season.
But Donovan’s masterpiece to this moment might have been what he did on Sunday with his starting lineup. Struggling Wendell Carter Jr. and Coby White were takne out while Thaddeus Young along with Tomas Satoransky were put in against the Raptors on Sunday.
Not only did the move work, but the team pulled off something they haven’t in a half-century.
In a 118-95 win over Toronto, the new lineup arrangement produced the most balanced game for the team all year, with nine players getting in double-digits in points. That hasn’t happened since 1971, with rookie starter Patrick Williams leading the way with 23 points.
Zach LaVine had 15 with Lauri Markkanen and demoted starrter White each getting 13 points on the night. Carter Jr. finally scored double-digits in points in March, getting 12 along with a team-high 11 rebounds. Otto Porter Jr and and Denzel Valentine had 11 points with Young along with Satoransky getting ten points & seven assists each.
The Bulls had 35 assists on the night and the teamwork helped the Bulls to their first win over the Raptors since February 14, 2017. From then till Sunday, Toronto had won the last 12 games between the Eastern Conference foes.
Using a new lineup, this game against Toronto looked much different for the Bulls as they led by six after the first quarter and never looked back. They wouldn’t trail the rest of the game, and saved their best for the four quarter, when they outscored the Raptors 33-22.
Williams fittingly finished the night with a big slam, making a lineup experiment by Donovan quite a success on its first night.