Pat Bev Mania, Coby White Steps Up, Sweeping Miami, and Other Bulls Bullets
You know when you’re mad at your significant other but then they make you laugh? Yeah, so that’s how I feel about these last two Bulls games.
In the middle of giving this team the silent treatment, they reminded me of just how much fun we’ve had in the past. Beating the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Miami Heat deserves a round of applause. Beating them on back-to-back nights after the first game went in double-OT? That arguably deserves a standing ovation!
Don’t get me wrong, I totally recognize that we’re toasting nothing more than a last-ditch effort for the final Play-In Tournament spot. But growth is growth. Compared to what else we’ve seen this season, it’s hard not to at least commend this group’s effort since the All-Star break. Now, can they keep it up?
- I’ll admit, I do fear that any level of success over these last couple of weeks will be used to justify inaction during the offseason. If that does happen, I’ll probably wish this 7-4 stint never transpired. However, I do think things have been bad enough overall this year that it would take a shockingly deep playoff run to keep this front office from doing at least something extreme. Not to mention, they’ll have no choice but to re-evaluate the futures of guys like DeMar DeRozan (up for contract extension), Nikola Vucevic (unrestricted free agent), and Coby White (restricted free agent). So, yeah, I wouldn’t worry too much yet about this modest winning changing too much behind the scenes.
- Speaking of this modest winning, I was wrong about Patrick Beverley. While I thought he was the best on-court fit of the rumored buyout options, I never thought he’d have this positive of an impact. Not only has he seemingly ignited a sense of urgency and newfound competitiveness in the Bulls’ locker room, but he’s been genuinely really good on the court. He’s already grabbed double-digit rebounds in three of his first eight games as a Bull and is averaging nearly 7.0 per game. He’s also dishing 4.4 assists a night and shooting 41.4 percent from downtown. Is he the main reason why the Bulls have found a new rhythm? No. But he’s undoubtedly a big part of the reason.
“I know he’s added a lot of value to our team. There is no question about that,” Donovan said about Beverley. “Just love his presence, his competitiveness, the way he comes in even today on a back-to-back trying to get guys like ‘we got to be ready to play’ … I love being around him because he’s a really genuine guy and he’s a straight-up guy. I just love his passion. So it’s helped our team. I don’t think it’s changed our team, but I think when you get a guy like that it always helps.”
- The fact that Beverley’s 3-point shooting has been a breath of fresh air speaks to how few reliable options the Bulls have on this roster. While Beverley has always been an adequate 3-point threat over his career, it’s never come on high volume. But the Bulls don’t even need these bona fide marksmen to better keep up from behind the arc. Having offensive weapons like LaVine, DeRozan, and Vucevic is naturally going to lead to open looks, so it certainly shouldn’t be that much to ask for role players to have nights like Beverley did last night (5-10 from 3). And he knows that …
“It’s nothing out the regular,” Beverley said. “They were wide-open 3s … Guys just made the right plays and were unselfish. And I got a coach that believes in me, so just playing basketball.”
- Pat Bev hitting journalists and writers right in the feels with this one:
- The ball movement last night couldn’t have been better. The Bulls tied their season-high with 34 assists on 45-made baskets. DeRozan and LaVine combined for 17 of those dimes. Six players also ended up scoring in double figures in one of the most balanced scoring efforts we’ve seen all year long. I don’t know if it’s us finally seeing the benefits of “continuity” or what, but the Bulls have played off one another increasingly well over the past handful of games. During this 4-1 stretch, they have dashed the 8th-most assists per game and have the 6th-best AST/TOV ratio. That’s how you win basketball games right there.
- Patrick Williams and Coby White are as important to this team right now as anyone. Williams has now finished as a plus-contributor off the bench in each of his last five contests. Billy Donovan turned to him to help close out the win with Alex Caruso injured and Patrick Beverley stuck on the bench. He rewarded his head coach with a stone-cold 3-pointer to put the Bulls up 10 with roughly 3 minutes to go.
- As for White, his 18 points came behind a 7-12 shooting effort from the floor. He scored 8 of those points in the 4th quarter and also ended the game with 6 assists and 2 steals. I have to give him some major props for his ability to keep things moving in the halfcourt. It was his decisiveness that helped generate a lot of offense for the Bulls’ stars.
“I just give our guys a lot of credit for what they went through physically to get themselves to be able to compete because those guys played a lot of minutes again tonight. And with Alex going out, Patrick Beverley in foul trouble, I had to play Patrick the whole entire 3rd quarter I think. Hopefully, we can learn and grow from this and get better as a group. I think these experiences can be helpful.”
- The 113-99 victory gave Chicago the season sweep over Miami and increased their lead for the 10 seed to 1.5 games. Holding onto this isn’t going to be easy with a mini-series against Philly waiting in the wings, but any lead is a good lead at this point in the season. Also, as of now, there is a real chance the Bulls could meet Miami for a fourth time during the Play-In Tournament next month. Something to think about.
- This is so freakin’ cool.
- Everything leads back to the Bulls!
- Yeah, this is weird.