The Bulls Are Giving Us Hope, LaVine Makes NBA History, Williams Keeps it Going, and Other Bulls Bullets

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The Bulls Are Giving Us Hope, LaVine Makes NBA History, Williams Keeps it Going, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Is it happening?

The last thing I want to do is let the Chicago Bulls trick me into having a false sense of hope … but that’s exactly what they’re doing.

Thanks to a dominant Zach LaVine performance last night, this team is now 7-3 in their last 10 games. And six of those wins are genuinely impressive, folks. We’re talking victories over the Heat, Hawks, Knicks, Bucks, Nets, and 76ers. Those last three teams represent three of the top-five squads in the Eastern Conference, only accentuating the perplexing trend of the Bulls beating some of the best teams in the league and losing to the bottom feeders.

This win streak now has them tied with the Atlanta Hawks at 18-21 for the 9th seed in the conference. Also, with the Raptors and Wizards each losing at least two-straight games, the Bulls have created at least a 1.5-game cushion on both.

Of course, there is a lot of time for things to go south again. But let’s not forget that this team has the second-easiest remaining strength of schedule in the league, per Tankathon. If they can finally re-channel last year’s ability to take care of lesser opponents, there is a genuine reason to believe they can continue an ascent up the standings. And that’s a pretty big deal when we consider the trade deadline is only roughly a month away.

  • Before I gush over LaVine’s individual performance last night, let me briefly continue that above thought. All those cries for the Bulls to blow it up are going to continue to fall on deaf ears with this recent winning stretch. Back in the Play-In Tournament mix, the front office has only more reason to justify staying the course until at least the offseason. Now, do I think that’s the right decision? Eh, not really.
  • While I don’t think the Bulls should enter tank mode (and, if you’ve been reading, that’s been a consistent belief of mine), I do believe change is necessary. They should still seek out a roster shake-up of some kind at this season’s trade deadline and not let a few solid wins blur their vision. The fact of the matter is that this team still has some glaring roster holes. They need more 3-point shooting, they need more facilitating at the point guard position, and they need more rim protection. Not only could seeking those things out at the trade deadline help for a hopeful playoff run, but it could help immensely in the future.
  • All right, time to drool over Zachary! DID YOU SEE WHAT THAT MAN DID!? LaVine gave all those questioning his max contract status in recent weeks a giant middle finger with last night’s performance. He dropped 40+ points for the second time in five games and also knocked down the second-most 3-pointers in franchise history (first place also belongs to him with 13 3-pointers).

  • According to the NBA, his 11-13 performance became just the second time a player has ever made that many 3s while shooting 80 percent or better from long range. Who was the first to do it? Oh, just the greatest shooter to ever play the game, Stephen Curry.

  • If you didn’t get to see the 3-point barrage, I’ll drop the video below:

  • Seven of LaVine’s 11 made 3-pointers came on catch-and-shoot attempts. Why is that important? Well, there has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about whether or not the Bulls are putting him in the best position to succeed. Whether it be as a shooter or cutter, he has long been a highly-efficient off-ball scoring threat, and he reminded everyone of that last night. The Bulls simply need to prioritize finding him in motion and coming off screens. Especially when we consider how little this team shoots behind the arc, upping LaVine’s catch-and-shoot attempts couldn’t hurt.
  • Shoutout to Salim for making the chart below. LaVine has returned to form since his teammates reportedly called him out in the locker room. Among players who take at least five 3s per game, LaVine is the only guy to average at least 24.0 points on 50.0 percent shooting from both the field and behind the arc over the last 10 games. Elite stuff.

  • Keeping this theme of “hope” going, Patrick Williams just had his third-straight game scoring double figures. The Bulls’ power forward followed up a season-high 22-point performance against the Nets with 18 points and 6 rebounds on 7-11 shooting. He scored 16 of those points in the 3rd quarter on a perfect 7-7 to help combat the 76ers’ run. Once again, I was left extremely encouraged by how comfortable he looked within the Bulls’ offense. He knocked down a couple of 3s, caught the 76ers sleeping in transition, found the open space for two mid-range jumpers, and positioned himself well for a put-back slam.

  • ICYMI: I wrote a lot more about Williams encouraging play here:

  • Nikola Vucevic FEASTED against a small and Embiid-less 76ers team for his first triple-double of the season. If the Bulls take anything away from this, it’s that Vooch can pass. Playing inside-out more often should be in the cards, especially if Vooch can continue to set LaVine up with some easy kicks out.

  • I know it’s the backend of a back-to-back after a big win, but I REALLY don’t want Lauri Markkanen to win his homecoming. Get this dub, Bulls.

  • Is this the NBA’s Gritty?

  • Well, that’s good.

  • Bulls and Blackhawks both winning!? Wow!

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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.