After Taj Gibson gave the younger players on the Chicago Bulls roster a stern talking to during the Thursday night game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Bulls were able to pull out a much-needed win, followed by more decent play the next game against the Utah Jazz.
Who would’ve thought that Gibson could strike fear into the eyes of the young Bulls on the roster? Nonetheless, even after going 3-1 during the last week, the Bulls still sit in a virtual tie for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, currently having the edge going into Monday’s games with a 35-33 record. No doubt there was some more consistent play at points this week, but the smell of mediocrity still lingers in the air as the Bulls struggle to keep their playoff hopes alive.
For example, if we want to focus on the negative, the Bulls missed a really big opportunity to take down another team vying for a playoff spot, the Washington Wizards, on Wednesday night when they got blown out by a score of 117-96. Sure, the injury bug didn’t help with Pau Gasol still being out and Gibson only playing a few minutes until he re-aggravated his injury, but was that any excuse for a defensive breakdown that allowed John Wall to lead his team with a triple-double?
This marked the ninth time in ten games that the Bulls have lost on the road. It’s when I see and hear about stats like this that I worry about the Bulls’ chances even if they do make the playoffs. How are the Bulls supposed to take on the best in the Eastern Conference when those teams have home court advantage, not to mention any Western Conference team that makes it to the Finals? Something tells me we really won’t have to look that far ahead, unfortunately.
However, some good did come from this week. The Bulls were able to eek out a win over the second-seeded Toronto Raptors. For whatever reason, the Bulls have the Raptors’ number, as that was their ninth win in a row over them. That’s why I wouldn’t be opposed to the Bulls getting the seventh seed if the Raptors stay in the second spot… but such good things can rarely be counted on.
Doug McDermott looked very impressive as he scored 29 points and went four-for-five from three-point land. Derrick Rose looked alright, too, after sitting out the first game of the week, and led the team with 22 points on Saturday against Utah.
But this coming week is where the Bulls will really have to shine. Four games are on the table, with all of them against sub-.500 teams. And that’s including two against New York. The Bulls need to put some ground between themselves, Detroit and Washington, both of whom remain hot on their tails. Time is running out, but if the Bulls can keep up the good play from their last two games during this week, enough traction should be made where they can hopefully coast into the playoffs… just as they were expected to when the season opened.
Who’s Hot: Doug McDermott
Although he cooled down a little bit against the Jazz, McDermott had a great week on the offensive end, and took some of Gibson’s words to heart regarding his defense towards the week’s end.
Who’s Not: Mike Dunleavy
Dunleavy has been a non-factor recently in the starting line-up, and even sat out a game for the stomach flu. It’d be nice if we could chalk up his recent struggles to a queasy stomach, but unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
Last week: defeated Toronto 109-107; lost to Washington 117-96; defeated Brooklyn 118-102; defeated Utah 92-85.
Next Week: Monday vs. Sacramento; Wednesday vs. New York; Thursday at New York; Saturday at Orlando.