Jimmy Butler expected to return tonight as Bulls host Rockets

Jimmy Butler expected to return tonight as Bulls host Rockets

Jimmy Butler, while still being listed as "questionable" in the Bulls' official game-day notes, is expected to return to the court when the team hosts the Rockets tonight.


The game will be telecast nationally on ABC beginning at 7:30 CT. NBA Countdown starts at 7:00.

Butler's return cannot come soon enough for a Bulls team that has lost 18 of their last 26 games. They currently sit in 9th place in the East, though they have the same number of losses at #7 Indiana (32-30) and #8 Detroit (31-30).

The Bulls also have the easiest remaining schedule of the playoff contenders in the East:


RK TEAM >=.500 (H/A) <.500 (H/A)

1 Cleveland 12 (7/5) 11 (4/7)
2 Toronto 14 (9/5) 9 (4/5)
3 Boston 12 (5/7) 8 (5/3)
4 Miami 10 (4/6) 11 (5/6)
5 Atlanta 15 (6/9) 6 (4/2)
6 Charlotte 10 (4/6) 12 (8/4)
7 Indiana 11 (6/5) 10 (6/4)
8 Detroit 14 (8/6) 7 (4/3)
9 Washington 12 (6/6) 10 (3/7)
10 Chicago 10 (4/6) 12 (7/5)

The Bulls certainly weren't playing effective basketball before Butler's injury, and his return is no guarantee that the team will suddenly start playing good defense. But at the very least, Bulls fans can hope that Butler can take the majority of the minutes that have been going to Aaron Brooks and Tony Snell.

EDIT: Taj Gibson, who was also listed as questionable for tonight's game, will apparently be playing after all:




The Rockets are the only Western Conference team the Bulls have yet to face this season.

Chicago has won the last two contests against Houston at the United Center. Houston held on in the second meeting last year, 101-90, to tie the season series. Joakim Noah grabbed a season-high 19 rebounds. James Harden scored 15 of his 27 points in the second quarter, and Trevor Ariza totaled 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter.

In the first matchup last year, the Bulls prevailed, 114-105, in the Windy City. Pau Gasol paced the Bulls with 27 points (18 in the first quarter), 14 rebounds and six blocks. Jimmy Butler tallied 22 points, and Derrick Rose finished with 19 points and nine assists. Chicago held a tremendous advantage at the foul line, making 27 free throws to Houston’s three. The Bulls turned 17 offensive rebounds into 27 secondchance points. The Bulls outscored the Rockets 31-16 in the fourth quarter and held Houston to .261 (6-23 FG, 2-12 3FG) from the field in the final stanza.

The last time Chicago swept the season series was in the 2010-11 campaign. The Bulls are 3-8 in their last 11 trips to the Toyota Center … the Bulls are 2-2 all-time against the Rockets in overtimes games.


Chicago has lost 141 games due to injury or illness this season. Last year, the Bulls missed 148 total.

The Bulls have used 15 different starting lineups this season, with six games being the longest streak of using the same starting lineup, done twice (Nov. 24 to Dec.7 and Jan. 15 to Jan. 25).

Since turning the ball over 21 times at Atlanta on Feb. 26, the Bulls have limited their turnovers to an average of 9.0 per game over their last three.

The Bulls are one of five teams in the NBA this season (along with Charlotte, Philadelphia, Denver and Utah) to not yet play a game with all of their top roster players available. Initially, Mike Dunleavy was out rehabbing from back surgery, but now that Dunleavy has returned, other players are missing time.

Since Chicago’s six-game winning streak ended on Jan. 9, the Bulls have had eight players miss time with a total of 70 games lost. Over that span, 70 is the third-most games lost to injury in the NBA. For the season as a whole, Chicago’s 134 games lost due to injury/illness rank eighth. (Rankings as of Feb. 29 and courtesy of STATS LLC.).


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  • Thanks for always being positive. Your blogs are always positive. There was a time when I and many other fans appreciated a player playing injured or returning to play even though the player knew he was not quite well. And we still appreciate the efforts of a player to make himself available, but...

    If our Bulls had a chance of winning a championship this year I could welcome a player rushing back to play, but if we were to honestly look at the team's chances and the past considerations players like Deng or Noah (whose value to the team decreased because of their loyalty) have been treated afterwards, I hope Jimmie Butler and T. Gibson recognize that they must be cautious about making decisions to play before they are physically healthy. Is the Bulls franchise worth a billion dollars if players are not healthy and the team has a low entertainment value?

    8 players hurt this season and team injuries for the last 3 seasons must indicate that something is not right. Players
    must recognize that the advice Bulls team doctors have given the team's players has been questionable and players must look out for themselves and
    realize that they should
    not jeopardize their careers after noticing Bulls medical staff decisions have been detrimental to the team's health repeatedly.

  • I know Bulls fans love to bitch and moan about the team's medical staff, but the simple truth is that over the last 10 seasons, Bulls players have actually missed the 6th-fewest games due to injury.



    Ever since Derrick Rose crumpled to the floor in the 2012 NBA Playoffs with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the Bulls have been associated with injury. However, the reoccurring problems of Rose and their impact of his absence may have skewed the public perception of a medical staff that has performed admirably over the past 10 seasons. Former athletic trainer Fred Tedeschi and current AT Jeff Tanaka have led a group that has the sixth fewest games lost to injury since the 2005-06 season. The 2013-14 campaign was particularly impressive as Chicago finished the year with just 118 totals games despite Rose sitting for 72 games due to meniscus surgery.


    And thanks for the kind words, but I don't try to always be positive, just honest. I don't kowtow to fan perceptions just to build readership, I guess maybe I've been doing this long enough to remember when things like "facts" and "the truth" actually mattered in journalism?

  • Maybe I need to be more positive, the Bulls win, beating Houston. Butler, Gibson, Mirotic all appeared healthy. Maybe my skepticism has holes in it. Hoiberg even coached a great game.
    They still had too many turnovers but they won. Maybe GarPax planned to the bench the experience they needed to sort out who was ready and who was not. In any case, they won looking very impressive.

  • It was just one game, but it sure was nice to see a healthy (minus Noah) roster for once. And it was incredible to see two things in the box score:

    Brooks - DNP
    Snell - DNP

    I hope this is the 8-man rotation Fred goes with the rest of the way, there's 21 games left to get ready for the playoffs. I think it's going to be a fun final 6 weeks for sure.

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