NBA

'Our margin for error is not great' – Donovan accepts Bulls need to improve after losing run goes on

By Sports Desk January 18, 2022

Billy Donovan says the Chicago Bulls' "margin for error is not great" after losing for a fourth straight game in the absence of several key players.

Without the likes of Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine and Alex Caruso, the Bulls were beaten 119-106 by the in-form Memphis Grizzlies on Monday.

Despite losing to the Grizzlies, the Boston Celtics, the Golden State Warriors and the Brooklyn Nets in successive games, Chicago are top of the Eastern Conference.

The Nets are now 27-15 for the season and have allowed an average of 127 points across those past four defeats, following a run of 14 wins from their previous 17.

And after committing 18 turnovers in an error-strewn performance against the Grizzlies, Donovan accepts an improvement is required.

"For us right now, our margin for error is not great," he said. "Turnovers here, offensive rebound, a couple easy transition points – we're going to have to eliminate those things.

"We've got to be really meticulous and good at taking care of the ball, defensive rebounding and getting back."

DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 24 points on 10 of 24 shooting, on top of his five assists, while Coby White finished with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.

While the shorthanded Bulls are going through a rough patch, White believes there could be long-term gains for his side.

"I feel like this is a chance for us to grow," he said. "We're getting the opportunity now.

"I feel like we're just taking it day-by-day and trying to just grow and develop and get better for the team."

The Grizzlies have won 12 of their last 13 games and are third in the West ahead of a four-game road trip that begins against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

"I thought our guys came out ready," Memphis interim coach Darko Rajakovic said. 

"I thought we did a really good job defensively. To be honest with you, I thought we were supposed to score even more. 

"We missed a couple of chippies, a couple of open looks that we usually make."

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  • Heat's Erik Spoelstra looking forward to 'throwback' Eastern Conference Finals Heat's Erik Spoelstra looking forward to 'throwback' Eastern Conference Finals

    Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Eastern Conference Finals will be an old-school defensive slugfest, and that he feels the best two teams made it.

    The Heat needed six games to triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Boston Celtics came back from 3-2 down against the Milwaukee Bucks to get the job done in Game 7.

    As a reward for getting their series out of the way early, the Heat will have five days of rest before Tuesday's Game 1, while the Celtics have just one proper rest day between series.

    Speaking to the media after Monday's practice, Spoelstra said it is shaping up as a series that will warm the heart of Heat president Pat Riley.

    "Pat's [Riley] probably is going to enjoy this," he said. "This is like a throwback series. 

    "If both teams are really on top of their games, this should be a series where neither team is scoring 130 points. Both teams hang their hats on rock-solid team defense, and making multiple efforts and being disciplined to schemes. 

    "So it will be a lot of plays and things in the margins… really, we were the two best teams in the East most of the season and it's fitting that we're moving into the conference finals.

    "Boston has played as well as anyone in the entire league once they got to 2022. It's not by accident. They're playing very strong basketball. They do it on both ends."

    Heat star Jimmy Butler was asked about his potential matchup against Jayson Tatum, and he had nothing but praise for the Celtics' best player.

    "He's one of the best in the game right now," he said. "As much attention as he draws on the offensive end – and then I think what's really impressive is the way that he's picked up his defensive intensity. 

    "You got to tip your hat to that and respect him, I think those are the guys that you want to go up against."

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