It’s a Christmas miracle!
The Chicago Bulls have won three games in a row for the first time this season. And those wins weren’t too shabby, folks!
While a victory over a Miami team missing three starters isn’t all that impressive, taking down the Knicks and Hawks on the road is worth a genuine round of applause. New York and Atlanta represent the East’s 6th and 7th seeds, respectively. The Hawks entered their meeting with the Bulls 10-5 on their home floor, while the Knicks were on a streak of winning eight of their previous nine games.
All things considered, for a Bulls team that looked to be falling apart after a locker room “blow up” in Minnesota, this is a pretty shocking turn of events.
- Now, to be sure, Chicago isn’t out of the doghouse yet. There is still a lot of ground that needs to be covered for them to convince anyone that they shouldn’t pursue drastic changes over the coming months. Having said that, we do need to acknowledge that the door to surpass some teams in the standing is as far open as it has been in recent weeks. They are now only a half-game back of the Toronto Raptors for the final Play-In Tournament spot and only two games back from jumping into the 7-8 range. While they have two tough challenges against the Bucks and Cavs before 2022 comes to a close, they also have two very winnable matchups against the Rockets and Pistons. Can they take advantage?
- What made these last couple of victories, in particular, that much more impressive is the fact that the Bulls actually executed down the stretch. They came into the Hawks game just 3-11 in clutch situations, as crappy late-game shot selection, turnovers, and rebounding continued to sink their ship. The Bulls by no means played pristine basketball in these last two clutch wins, but they did play far more disciplined. For example, they outrebounded their opponents in the 4th quarter of each game and finished with fewer cough-ups. Good to see.
- What’s also been an enormous help is the fact that their “Big 3” is playing like … well … a “Big 3.” Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic have legitimately looked like one of the better trios in the NBA during this win streak. Not only have they each provided more effort on the defensive end, but they are distributing their offense far better than we’ve seen so far this season. DeRozan finished with 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 10 assists in last night’s victory, and six of those dimes were to his All-Star teammates. Meanwhile, Nikola Vucevic added 21 points and 12 rebounds in a team-high +9 performance.
- LaVine led the way, however. The Bulls’ max player continued his turnaround with 33 points on 12-22 shooting from the field. He knocked down a couple of deep 3-pointers and converted seven of high eight attempts at the rim. LaVine is now averaging a much more recognizable 24.5 points, 5.3 assists, and 4.0 rebounds on 52.2 percent shooting from the field and 44.0 percent shooting from downtown. After a ghastly start to the year, this is some extremely encouraging stuff.
- LaVine, DeRozan, and Vucevic have now each scored at least 20 points in each of the past four games. As NBC Sports Chicago points out, they are now the first trio in Bulls’ history to have such a streak. The next closest bunch was Michael Jordan, Quintin Dailey, and Orlando Woodridge in 1984 over just a three-game span.
- I don’t know how long DeMar DeRozan will wear a Bulls uniform (it’s apparently been a topic of conversation lately around the league), but I do know I’ll never forget his time in Chicago. He’s only needed one season and a half to put together an elite highlight reel of cold-blooded moves and game-winning shots. And last night’s and-one midrange jumper is obviously no exception.
- What will make that bucket even more memorable is that fact that DeRozan may have set it up with some mind games. The veteran was noticably in Jalen Brunson’s ear before the 89 percent free throw shooter missed both his freebies. ICYMI: Make sure to check out that video in the psot below:
- The NBA’s new clutch award better go to DeMar!
- We have officially entered the timeline where Billy Donovan has played both Andre Drummond and Nikola Vucevic at the same time. While it at least is semi-defensible when we consider how big the Knicks like to play and how many defenders the Bulls had out (Caruso, Green, and DJJ), I can’t imagine we see him prefer that lineup again soon. Drummond was a -10 when he was on the floor and shot 3-7 from the field. Again, it wasn’t a back-breaker necessarily, but it’s not something that will ever make that much sense to deploy.
- This is an absolutely perfect tweet by the Bulls social team. Someone give them an award.
- Over/Under 1.5 hours for my signifcan’t other’s family at today’s game?
- A Bulls and Blackhawks win!