Look, I’m still not going there on vacation, but if the Cleveland Cavaliers can somehow beat the Washington Wizards tonight, I’ll consider passing through on a road trip.
• The Chicago Bulls continued to pull their weight on Thursday night with a dominant – and expected – victory over the
Toronto Tampa Bay Raptors. The team shot an easy 54.2 percent from the field and 47.2 percent from downtown. Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine did what they had to do, but they also let guys like Coby White and Lauri Markkanen run the show. The two role players combined for 37 points and 12 rebounds. White also finished the game with 10 assists (his third double-digit assist night on the season), while Markkanen shot 6-9 (nice) from behind the arc. It’s good to see these two dudes eat.
• Overall, the Bulls had six players finish in double figures, including new rotation member Javonte Green. The athletic wing went 4-6 with a Bulls career-high 10 points. I’ll be very curious to see how the front office approaches Green’s unrestricted free agency this offseason. I don’t expect him to be a highly sought-after player, which means it could be easy enough for the front office to keep him on a $1.8 million qualifying offer. At the same time, they may want to try something new with that roster spot. I do think Green’s defensive intensity could fill the Garrett Temple-type role on that end of the floor next season, but he isn’t going to provide the same kind of all-around production/veteran savvy that Temple does. Anyway, he is a cheap bench option worth keeping in mind.
• Guess what! The Bulls have won 30 games for the first time since the younger and athletic Bulls (led by Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo) won 41 games in 2016-17.
• The most important thing about last night’s win was it helped the Bulls evade postseason elimination for at least one more night (Basketball-Reference still gives the team only a 1.3 percent chance of stealing the 10 seed). The Bulls will now need the Wizards to crumble against the Cavaliers, who have lost 11 of 12.
Alive for another day at least.
✅WED – WAS loss to ATL
✅THU – CHI win over TOR
❔FRI – WAS loss to CLE
❔SAT – CHI win over BKN
❔SUN – WAS loss to CHA
❔SUN – CHI win over MIL
— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) May 14, 2021
• So … GO CAVS!!!!
• The Markkanen performance against the Raptors was his best since mid-March when he dropped 22 on the Oklahoma City Thunder. While he didn’t flash a very versatile offensive skill set, he did look lethal behind the arc and rebound well. Still, it was hard to watch that kind of performance and feel any genuine excitement. I know there is a possibility the Bulls match whatever contract offer is thrown his way this offseason, but I think we can all agree that would only be for the sake of keeping the asset for some kind of trade. After moving to the bench and producing very little, the writing is just on the wall. We talked about that a week or so ago, and Billy Donovan’s comments last night only reaffirmed that belief.
“I haven’t had any conversations with Arturas or Marc on that. I would just say this, I really really love Lauri as a player. He’s a great guy, and he has been an incredibly teammates, and he has sacrificed a lot … He’s been impacted by it [trade deadline], and there is no way of getting around that. I just appreciate the way he has come in every day, and he’s tried to be a team guy and tried to take, as best he can, advantage of the minutes that he’s gotten.”
• Donovan was (duh) complimentary of Markkanen, but he also doesn’t sound like he is talking about a player that is a long-term fit. If the front office and coaching staff were serious about finding a place for Markkanen, he would not be averaging 21 minutes per game since April 2nd.
LIVE: Billy Donovan after tonight’s win over the Raptors https://t.co/U9cWHkC0ZU
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) May 14, 2021
• On the flip side, Coby White is definitely still part of the picture. And what a beautiful picture it is.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) May 14, 2021
• Seriously, White has flipped a switch since rejoining the starting lineup, and he sounds just as confident as ever. ICYMI: We talked more about his resurgence earlier this week.
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) May 14, 2021
• This made me chuckle.
• As the country adjusts, so will the NBA. Interested to see how the CDC’s new recommendation will impact arena seating for the playoffs.
Sources: The NBA and NBPA are discussing modifications to the health and safety protocols in light of CDC guidance that fully-vaccinated individuals do not need to wear a facemask or physically distance except in certain settings. In meantime, current protocols remain in place.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 14, 2021