A Must-Win in Portland, Pat Bev Talks Getting Frisky, Carlik Jones’ Big Night, and Other Bulls Bullets
The Portland Trail Blazers are on my sh*t list.
As I like to often remind everyone, the Chicago Bulls currently own Portland’s next available non-lottery pick. After failing to see that draft pick convey last season, it sure felt like we’d see it land in the Bulls’ lap this year. Not only was Damian Lillard back in the starting lineup and fully healthy, but Anfernee Simons had taken a noticeable leap and Jerami Grant joined the organization over the summer.
While they may not have been the West’s fiercest competitor, I at least viewed them as a playoff-caliber team. Alas …
- Technically speaking, Portland isn’t out of the postseason mix. They could still stack some wins and crack the Play-In Tournament, which means they can also still earn a top-8 seed. But the chance of that happening feels extremely unlikely as they sit 13th in the West and 3.5 games out of the 10 seed with just 10 games to go. The organization now looks primed to accept its fate. The injury report is stuffed to the brim, with both Grant and Simons already ruled out for tonight’s game. Jusuf Nurkic is also “questionable,” while Lillard is “probable.” In the mix to lock in the NBA’s 6th-worst record and thus a 37.2 percent chance of a top pick, it truly might be in Portland’s best interest to wave the white flag.
- For a Bulls team that is trying to continue their rise up the Play-In ladder, tonight might as well be a MUST-win. Portland is just 3-7 over their last 10 games and is without two of their top-3 scorers. They also sit bottom-3 in defensive rating this season, allowing opponents to score 52.7 points in the paint per game (7th-worst). When the Bulls played another squad recently that ranked just as poorly at protecting the rim (the Denver Nuggets), they finished with an absurd 66-38 advantage in the paint. As long as Chicago can put the same kind of pressure on the rim and not fall into the trap of trying to match Portland’s jump-shooting ways, they should be able to take control of this game.
- Other than a Thanksgiving dinner when you never know what will come out of your uncle’s mouth, Dame Time is the most anxiety-inducing time of year. Close games become that much harder when he’s on the floor, but I’d say the Bulls still have the edge if this one ends up tight down the stretch. Unlike some of the teams the Bulls have played in recent weeks (Nuggets, 76ers, and Heat, Kings), the Trail Blazers are one of the NBA’s worst teams in the clutch. They hold a -17.8 net rating since Jan. 1, which is the third-worst in the league behind only the Spurs and Rockets. I know closing out games hasn’t been the Bulls’ strong suit either this year, but they have at least taken a step in the right direction over the past month+ (12th in clutch net rating since Feb. 1).
- I never thought I’d write a bullet point about Patrick Beverley’s sex life, but here we are. The Chicago Bulls’ point guard said on the most recent episode of the Pat Bev Podcast that he doesn’t get frisky the night before games. Talk about being locked in, folks! He didn’t go too far into detail about his and his wife’s relationship, but he made clear that this was a calculated choice.
“I don’t have sex the night before games,” Beverley said on his podcast. “You know, I want to have fresh legs. Wifey going to kill me, though. It be hard, though, because you have a game every other day and sh*t. I don’t want to get too deep in it. Shout to wifey, man.”
- Carlik Jones continued his stellar season in the G-League last night. The Chicago Bulls’ two-way guard dropped 44 points with 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the team’s win over the College Park Skyhawks. He’s now averaging 26.1 points per game to lead the league in scoring and ranks 9th in assists with 7.0 per game. As I always like to clarify, G-League success is extremely difficult to translate to the NBA, but I’d still really like to see him get a great chance to prove his worth at the next level. It’s hard to see that happening in Chicago right now, but perhaps a team will look to sign him to a full-time roster spot this summer. It’s at least something to keep an eye on because I’m sure the Bulls wouldn’t mind having him back on a two-way deal.
- Joakim Noah remains a national treasure.
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- I threw a couple of key stats to think about over these final two weeks in the post below.
- Keep adding!