The Chicago Bulls have put me through enough this year. Is it baseball season yet? Maybe I should just pretend only one major sports franchise plays at the United Center, and focus only on them. The insanity has to end one way or another, because this is ludicrous.
In a week where the Bulls played four sub.-500 teams, the Bulls could eek out only one victory. Somehow, these teams have pulled the Bulls down to their level. And don’t even use injuries as an excuse. I’m done with the excuses, because if you watched any of these games, you could see that the Bulls just can’t close games anymore for some odd reason. And now, since the Bulls are getting down to the level of these bad teams, it means the Bulls find themselves toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff standings, currently holding the sixth seed heading into Monday’s games.
First off, I should say that the injury to Jimmy Butler during the loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday looked really bad. Bulls fans across the nation were worried that another superstar might be out for an extended period of time. But the really cool thing was that Butler got up off the stretcher, made one of his two free-throw attempts, and then went to the locker room on the same stretcher to get treated. That definitely shows how much tenacity Butler has. And maybe his being tenacious helped out just a little bit as far as his prognosis goes. It looks like the MRI only showed a strain in his left knee, and the team will take a wait and see approach to this. With only two games this coming week due to the All-Star Break coming up, it’s better to be cautious at this point.
Here’s the thing though… this injury should’ve had no bearing on if the Bulls won or lost. In the third quarter, the Bulls came out roaring outscoring the Nuggets 32-18. Then, as I’ve described on more than a few occasions this season, the Bulls just went limp. The energy was sucked out of them. It’s not that they gave up purposely or anything of that nature. They just ran out of steam, and they looked absolutely awful as the Nuggets routed the Bulls in the last quarter 42-21 on their way to a 115-110 victory. And more of the same happened in the following game against the hapless Minnesota Timberwolves.
Not even the return of Mike Dunleavy could do anything for the Bulls. Well… to be fair, it’s not like his return was going to do much anyway. Yea, it’s great he’s back, but let’s not kid ourselves and call Dunleavy a big difference maker. He was limited to a little under 14 minutes in his regular season debut, but was still way more effective than starter Tony Snell was. The one real positive of Dunleavy’s return is that Snell can finally get back to the bench as he has been disappointing much of the year for the team.
All that being said, the game against Minnesota was a debacle, and every player on the team should be embarrassed. The T’Wolves put up a 12-0 run in the last four or so minutes of the game, leaving the Bulls shell-shocked as Andrew Wiggins just kept draining shots as part of his 21-point performance. And what did the Bulls do? Just sit back and let it all happen, all the while shooting bricks and playing absolutely horrible defense in the 112-105 loss. One thing’s for sure, the All-Star Break couldn’t come at a better time. Maybe having a healthier squad back will do something mentally for the Bulls, but if anybody has followed this team for the past three or four years, then they know it’s pretty hard to get out of a mental funk. And that’s what the Bulls are in right now.
Last Week: lost to Utah 105-96; defeated Sacramento 107-102; lost to Denver 115-110; lost to Minnesota 112-105
Next Week: Monday at Charlotte; Wednesday vs. Atlanta; All Star Game on Sunday in Toronto
Who’s Hot: E’Twaun Moore
Moore has been doing well for the most part in recent weeks, and had a career night in the win against Sacramento on Wednesday where he scored 24 points.
Who’s Not: Tony Snell
He’s getting his chances, he started twice this week, but still continues to flounder. Now that Dunleavy is back, does coach Fred Hoiberg really have a reason to make Snell a priority in the rotation?