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On a night where Lonzo Ball was reportedly shut down for the season prior to a 127-106 blowout at the hands of the Bucks, there is some good news to help balance it out.
Your Chicago Bulls are going to the Playoffs.
By virtue of the Cavaliers losing the the Magic, the Bulls have officially clinched a top-6 spot in the Eastern Conference standings, securing them a full first round series.
Some other thoughts and notes coming out of a tummy ache of a basketball game.
Freddy and The Alphas
Ok one more quick note about the Playoffs bit. It’s their first trip back since Fred Hoiberg led/was led by Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo’s magical season of 2016-17. Some truly iconic moments in Bulls history came from this season including the “My Vets” instagram post after the locker room split in two.
Glad to be able to wash our mouths of that year as the most recent playoff season.
Another 40-spot for DeRozan
Not to be overlooked, DeMar DeRozan dropped 40 (or more) for the fifth time this season. What else can I say? He is truly special.
Revenge on Grayson Allen
Early in the fourth quarter, Nikola Vucevic knocked Grayson Allen out of the air on an attempted layup.
The fans…enjoyed this.
Brook Lopez was immediately called for an offensive foul for pushing Vucevic into Allen. This was reviewed and Vucevic was hit with a technical foul for a blow to the head.
Vucevic said, “my intention wasn’t to foul him, injure him or anything like that.”
“Hopefully I get my money back for that tech.”
3/19 from the field, 1/6 on threes for 7 points and 6 rebounds. How many times can you chalk it up to a bad shooting night?
Another solid Patrick Williams outing
A season-high 18 points for Williams on 7/9 shooting from the field and 2/4 from deep to go along with 6 rebounds. Since Billy Donovan gave him a talking to at halftime against the Clippers, he has been a different player and it’s manifesting in the form of an aggressive, decisive Williams.
Donovan still wants to see more.
“There are opportunities that he has to recognize that spontaneously happen,” Donovan said. “There’s an opportunity to go downhill and put pressure on the basket.”
Derrick Jones Jr. minutes
21 minutes of real game-play for Jones Jr. who has found himself largely outside the rotation since Patrick Williams returned from his injury. He was decisive shooting threes on kick outs (2/5), moved the ball well on the perimeter and gives the Bulls some much needed length in their defensive rotations. I like what I see from Jones, even if his minutes come at the four next to Tristan Thompson.
Bulls record vs. top of the East
Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game: “I don’t think there’s anyone in the East, or anybody in the league, who doesn’t have a lot of respect for the Bulls. I think it’s more just an anomaly.”
Flukey or not, this is not a great sign. With the Celtics coming up tomorrow, the Bulls have a last-ditch chance to flip that narrative, assuming they don’t rest everyone.
Rest of the season rest
With the Bulls locking up a playoff spot, and the difference between finishing with the fifth and sixth seeds negligible, we’re all now focused on the potential to get the Bulls players, notably Zach LaVine, DeRozan, Alex Caruso and Nikola Vucevic, some rest heading into their off-week before the Playoffs.
“The big thing would be, first and foremost, the guys health,” Donovan said. “Does anybody feel, health wise, they need something. I don’t want to miss out — and I think AK would be in alignment with this too — where you just sit there and say, ‘OK, we’re going to sit these guys out and not play them, and not going to necessarily worry about growing or getting better and improving against some good teams that are coming up.”
DeRozan was a little more decided: “I don’t need no time off.”
I’d personally be surprised if the Bulls didn’t take this opportunity to rest guys heading into the Playoffs. If the major issues at hand now are missing shots and injuries, let’s address that.
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