The Chicago Bulls have started the 1990/1991 season losing their first two games of the season. The Philadelphia 76ers outplayed the team for three and a half quarters and prevented a comeback in the first game. Bernard King dominated the Bulls and helped give the Bullets a one-point win in the second game of the season. The Bulls had a chance to win the game in the closing seconds, but came up short in the end.
Michael Jordan hasn’t had a lot of help through the first two games. Scottie Pippen has been struggling on the offensive side. Horace Grant tends to have productive first quarters but his touches diminish throughout the rest of the game. Bill Cartwright is a below-average big man and it’s an obvious weak spot. Considering this is an era where big men are a big focus and the perimeter game is not as highlighted, I’m interested to see how that’s addressed moving forward.
The Boston Celtics are the opponents in the third game of the season. Boston’s dynasty is on its last legs, but the team is still a viable contender. Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Brian Shaw and Reggie Lewis provide plenty of firepower on both ends of the court.
The Celtics won their first two games of the year against the Cavaliers and Knicks. Reggie Lewis has had a strong start to the season and Brian Shaw has done a very good job leading the team as the point guard. Shaw had left the team after his rookie year to play for the Italian team II Messaggero Roma.
He signed a five-year deal with the Celtics in January 1990. But then, he wanted to return to the Italian team. The issue went to court and the Celtics won. As a result, Shaw was banned from playing with another team that wasn’t the Celtics. It’s an interesting story to keep an eye on if it impacts Shaw’s play. Shaw has done very well in the first two games distributing the ball and the Celtics offense is firing well on all cylinders.
The date is November 6, 1990 and it’s Chicago’s second home game. The game aired on TNT.
The Bulls had a great start to the game thanks to Scottie Pippen. Pippen has woken up on the offensive side and made his intentions clear. He was going to drive through the paint and not care who got in his way. That’s the best style of play for him and something he needs to keep doing moving forward.
Shaw had a great game for a guy who has Stockholm syndrome. He benefits greatly from having guys like McHale, Bird and Lewis on the court. They drain easy buckets and pad his assists line. Dee Brown played out of control early in the game and tried to play out of his shoes with his quickness. After being benched for his reckless play, Brown appeared to calm down and was more productive.
For Chicago, John Paxson played his best game thus far finishing with 13 points and 6 assists. Paxson continued to show that he’s a shooting threat. B.J. Armstrong didn’t provide much off the bench as he was notably struggling with his shot and only played for thirteen minutes.
Pippen didn’t play much in the second quarter due to foul trouble and that allowed the Celtics to get back into the game. However, he was by far the best and most explosive player on the court. His absence hindered Chicago on the offensive side. With Pippen not playing the Bulls decided to use their centers quite a bit on offense. The decision led to some success with Bill Cartwright and Stacey King finishing with 10 points each.
For as much as I have crapped on Cartwright, he did have a better showing against Robert Parish than I ever anticipated him to have. Cartwright played well on defense and held Parish to only eight points. Will Perdue provided quality defense and finished with 4 blocks in only 14 minutes of playing time.
Chicago had an eleven-point lead after three quarters and finally had a good showing from Pippen to go along with Jordan’s performance. It would have seemed that the Bulls would earn their first win of the season over a quality opponent.
However, Phil Jackson decided to have Jordan and Pippen on the bench to start the fourth quarter. Without much on the offensive side, the Bulls weren’t able to keep up with Celtics shot making. Shockingly, Bird didn’t play the majority of the quarter and Lewis ended up staying on the bench for the entire quarter.
Brian Shaw, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish led the way for Boston in the final quarter. In the closing seconds, Shaw rebounded a Parish miss and made a layup to win the game 110-108.
This has been an unlucky start to the season for Chicago. Larry Bird made 9 straight shots. Brian Shaw played a great complete game finding right guys for easy shots. McHale was a force off the bench scoring 19 points. The Bulls had plenty of opportunity to run away with the game as the Celtics struggled with turnovers. But they made the necessary shots to keep the game within reach and prevail in the end.
The Bulls starting off with 3 losses is a bit of a surprise, but 2 of their losses are against playoff teams. There’s a lot of tough competition in the NBA and the Bulls will find their stride in a short time.
Their next game to be covered in this series took place on November 7, 1990 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.