United Center officially a no streaking zone

The New York Knicks came into the United Center riding a 13 game win streak and leave, just like Miami, riding a one game losing streak. Jimmy Butler went out and had another big game for the Bulls while Nate Robinson provided 'good Nate' magic for the evening against his former team.

Unlike their previous matchups, New York jumped out to a huge lead and was up by 17 in the first quarter. This time it was the Bulls trying to chip away from behind, and when the bench came in, they were able to do just that. By half time, the Bulls had trimmed it down to five. However, the Knicks quickly opened the game up to 10+ points in the third period forcing the Bulls to play from behind yet again.

With just over four minutes to play in the third period, it looked like the Bulls were toast. They were down 15 points, and then the Bulls defense happened. Consecutive steals leading to Jimmy Butler fast break dunks cut it to 11, and the momentum swung.

J.R. Smith answered with a layup, but the Knicks didn't make a shot for the next seven minutes, only scoring a few points on free throws, and by that point, Chicago had taken the lead on a Rip Hamilton three. The Bulls would grow the lead behind Nate Robinson's offense and with five minutes and change looked comfortably ahead by nine points, but J.R. Smith led a furious Knicks rally to tie the game and force overtime.

At the end of regulation, the Bulls had 14 seconds left and watched Luol Deng play hero ball and try to drive the lane. Not only did he miss an ugly shot where he could have easily been whistled for an offensive foul, but he left 1.5 seconds on the clock for the Knicks to take a final shot.

Why the Bulls did not go to Nate Robinson for a fadeaway jumper to let clock expire while the ball was in mid flight and ensure a last shot is beyond me. Robinson had been hot all night and is easily the Bulls best offensive creator in these situations.

The decision would have prompted a long ass rant today if Carmelo had managed to hit his shot at a game winner, but the Bulls forced a tough look, and the Knicks missed forcing over time. Still, with the Knicks having the momentum of closing out the fourth to capture the lead, it felt like overtime might not go well for Chicago.

Instead Nate Robinson kicked off over time with a three point play, and the Knicks scored just four points in those five minutes while little Nate added eight by himself. Luol Deng chipped in five points as well, and the Knicks never threatened in the extra period.

It wasn't knocking off the fully healthy Heat on the second longest winning streak in the history of the NBA with a make shift roster, but this was still an awfully special win with the Bulls ending New York's long winning streak with their makeshift roster.

Would the Knicks actually fear the Bulls in the playoffs?

The Bulls have swept the Knicks in the season series and snapped their 13 game win streak. There are plenty of caveats on some of the wins though.

The Knicks were missing Anthony once, missing their entire front court last night, and got hosed by the refs for much of the game another night. That said, what has really hurt them is Chicago has defended the three point line well, and New York hasn't been able to deliver their normal shooting against Chicago.

The Bulls have found ways to score in bunches against New York and though they're theoretically improved on defense this year, it hasn't shown against Chicago. That said, the Bulls also swept Miami in the regular season two years ago only to fall in the playoffs 4-1. If the Bulls were to go up against the Knicks I'd say a similar scenario is more likely than not.

How do you figure this team out?

Recent wins: New York, Miami, Brooklyn, Indiana, and Detroit (okay obviously Detroit's not so impressive but the rest of the list are teams above them in the standings, three of them considerably).

Recent losses: Detroit, Toronto, Washington, Dallas (all below .500, two of the worst teams in the NBA, I won't put washington in that group because they've been near .500 with Wall so aren't playing anywhere near worst in the NBA despite a poor record)

It's just bizarre, but it's certainly much more fun than the other way around.

Meet your starting two guard

Jimmy G Buckets

The Bulls are just so much better with Jimmy Butler in the game than when he's not. I've long thought that Butler would simply be the piece that allows them to let Luol Deng go, but he's even better as the piece that allows them to stop scraping the bottom of the barrel for a starting shooting guard.

If the Bulls could find a star two to put in the lineup, then Butler could be relegated to a backup role again, but they sure as hell aren't going to find that guy at MLE money or below. Butler's three point shot from the corner has been awfully steady, and he proven to play with very high intangibles, IQ, and hustle.

For a second year player he displays excellent decision making, and he'll help return the Bulls to a doberman style defensive lineup when everyone is healthy. Imagine what a defensive terror the bulls would be playing a lineup of Rose, Butler, Deng, Taj, and Noah. The only switch in that entire lineup that might hurt the Bulls defensively is Rose onto a center.

The Bulls would need to hope for some more offensive improvement from Butler/Taj to really dominate, but that might be the lineup that has a chance to take down Miami. The Bulls aren't ever going to be better on paper offensively, but what they can do is throw out a line up that can out rebound them and defend the crap out of them. That lineup does that.

You have to keep Nate don't you?

I've long said that Nate Robinson is outta here. There's no way the Bulls can keep him next year, and with three point guards on the roster, they don't really have a use for him. However, you need to keep him as a SG that can lead the offense from the bench don't you?

Let's face it, Kirk Hinrich may be better at running an offense, but Nate Robinson is better at getting buckets, and the Bulls need that second thing a lot more than the first once Derrick Rose is back. I'd rather have Nate Robinson running next to Rose taking those open shots from the corner than Kirk Hinrich.

Hinrich's strength in moving the ball, finding his teammates, and defense are marginal once Rose is back. What does Kirk offer at the two relative to Jimmy Butler? Certainly not better defense, and I don't think he adds better offense either. Particularly if it's next to Rose where his greatest strength in ball movement is mitigated because he won't be the primary ball handler.

I don't see how it can happen, but the Bulls need to find a way to keep Nate Robinson next season. He's been a bit of a goofball in his career, but he's our goofball now, and Chicago can use his enthusiasm and energy. Besides, which, the Bulls opening video where everyone gets all pumped up after big plays would take at least three steps down without Nate Robinson in it.

The Bulls play with a ton of heart on defense, but sometimes have trouble finding guys to provide the fire on offense. Nate Robinson brings the fire. He's Ben Gordon on a minimum salary.

Comments

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  • Yes, quite a year for the development of Butler. I am a big fan!
    His shot is really coming along well, but still could use some off-season work.

    The biggest issue he will have is similar to that of the early years of Deng and Noah. He is too damned skinny! It was very evident last night. Melo was pushing him around and able to secure offensive rebound after offensive rebound down the stretch to push for overtime.

    I'd love to see Nate resigned, but I just dont see it happening...

  • In reply to Swish14U:

    Jimmy isn't skinny at all. He's listed at the same weight as Luol and they both give up 10 lbs. to Melo. He's heavier than Iggy or Tony Allen. His size is perfect at the two, and more than serviceable at the 3.

  • While you ponder the question of whether the Knicks would actually fear the Bulls in the playoffs, the question you should be pondering is whether the Heat would fear the Bulls, because with yesterday’s win, that’s the more likely scenario (if the Bulls get by Brooklyn). Except for your Lebron rants, I find you to be quite level headed, but what in the world would prompt you to think the Bulls would have any lineup to take down Miami?

  • In reply to RichG:

    How did the Heat get brought into the discussion? We all know the Heat is the team to beat in the league but we are talking Knicks right now. Sounds like a hating Heat fan to me cause the Bulls stopped their winning streak as well.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Doug brought the Heat into the discussion, and I'm just responding to it. Read the blog closely and you'll see it.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Miami would still be the favorite, but if the Bulls are healthy (including Rose) , the Bulls would have a puncher's chance because 1) they would have two wings that can defend Wade and Lebron without costing you offense (unlike Bogans or Brewer); 2) they would still own the glass; and 3) Thibs. During Miami's streak, Zach Lowe at Grantland did a long article about how much more deadly their offense was with sophisticated misdirection setting up their pick and roll. Thibs figured that isht out in about twenty seconds and closed the passing lanes and forced Lebron out of his facilitator role.

    Miami's advantage is that they have the best player in the world, a top 5 player, and a top 25. That's a heck of an advantage and I wouldn't bet against them in a 7 game series, but a Bulls victory isn't unthinkable or anything.

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    You left out another advantage. Their bench. That's something the Heat could not say two years ago.

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    Thibs is awesome but remember the invisible hand of the Miami Heat is Pat Reilly. That's why they're so much tougher in a 7 game series is because his adjustments he gives Spoelstra between games. That's how you blow Miami out in Game 1 and then lose 4 straight. Plus, I'm starting to respect Spoelstra himself much more. When your team goes on the 2nd longest win streak in NBA history you probably deserve to be in the conversation for Coach of the Year.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    No disrespect to Spo intended. He's a good coach, but I think Thibs is top 3. The only ones I'd put above him are Pop and maybe Karl. As for the ECF, Miami's biggest adjustment was Haslem and Miller getting healthy. Other than Bosh going into velociraptor mode, Haslem was the biggest reason the Heat turned things around.

  • I have a question for Doug or some other capologist out there. A couple of years back we dumped Hinrich in order to get cap room for that year's FA frenzy. If memory serves me correctly, I believe the Bulls had to give Washington a first round pick to take Kirk off our hands.

    If we get rid of Hinrich's $4M contract this summer by offering another first round pick (next year's 19th) to a team would that free-up Kirk's money to re-sign Nate? IMO, I would rather have Nate than Klank and Withey.

  • Couple of swings and misses today. First, I'd much rather have Deng driving to the bucket for a last second shot than the smallest guy on the court trying to hit a step-back 20 footer. We had years of that with BG and it sucked, how can you forget so quickly?

    Second, you are comparing apples to oranges with Hinrich and Robinson. With Hinrich running your second team, all of a sudden guys like Bellinelli and Hamilton become relevant again. How many times have you commented about how much better Belli looks when he starts? It isn't because he's magically "in the flow" or something. It is because Hinrich is running the offense and getting him the ball in rhythm.

    Name one guy who looks better playing with Nate vs Hinrich. Nazr is all the proof you need. He looked 75 years old coming off of the bench and playing with Nate. When Nazr was inserted into the starting lineup, he suddenly looked like a decent journeyman big. That's not a coincidence.

    I think Nate is a nice player, but what has he done that JL3 didn't do last year? The only difference is that Nate has gotten more opportunity. And if you think Nate is going to play 20-30 minutes a night next to Rose next year and take the most shots, you are nuts.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    The Bulls do need to find a way to keep Nate cause even tho he does make bone head plays at times, he's one hell of a fearless competitor that Rose would benefit playing with. RIP will be gone next year so hopefully the Bulls can come up with a nice contract to help keep Nate around next year.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    He didn't say resign Nate to make him a big minute player. Nate in a 20-25 minute role as a second unit scorer is a great add to a team that is largely offensively challenged. Especially for the price which should be under 2m.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    On a per minute basis, Nate beats JLIII in Points (despite taking fewer shots), FG%, 3P%, FT attempts, assists, blocks, and steals.

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    Link: http://bkref.com/tiny/2Hf19

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    I think Nate is a better player than JL3, but there is a reason that Nate could only get a non-guaranteed deal this year. He didn't suddenly morph into something special. He'll get a two-year deal for some team and we'll never hear about him again. Has anybody heard anything about JL3? Has anybody heard anything about BG?... Streak-shooting, ball-hogging, undersized scorers are not nearly as rare as you might think. The bulls will have no problem replacing him?

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    You're totally wrong about not hearing from Nate again if he does move on to another team. Nate has been an offensive spark on every team he's been on, so to say that is saying you don't keep up with the league.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Watching sportscenter highlights isn't keeping up with the league. And it gives you a skewed appraisal of a guys value and abilities. Saying that Nate has been an offensive spark on every team he plays on is saying that you play too much nba2k...

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    While you may be right in a general sense. Hamilton isn't doing anything for the Bulls next year, as Devin Hester would say, he gone.

    Hinrich will only play the point for 8-10 minutes a night at point, maybe less, and maybe the same amount of time at 2 guard, if Nate isn't around.

    I've been a Nate fan from day one, we need the scoring and aggressive mentality that he provides in the worst way. Too bad we can't do a blood transfusion from Nate to Bozo.

    In some ways, I would say that Nate has been better (more explosive scorer) than Korver. He is a cheap Ben Gordon, except that he is a much better ball handler and driver and at least tries much harder on defense, so really he is a non nauseating version of Ben Gordon.

    I would love to keep him, but we only have the mini MLE and veteran minimums to spend next year. I believe that would be the case even if we wasted another #1 pick to dump Hinrich. Nate would almost certainly go for the full mini MLE.

    However, is that the best use of it, should it go to Marco, or do we look for a fourth big. Tough choices, but the longer that the season goes, the more that Nate seems to be the choice. Maybe we can get a big in the draft, although it is unlikely that a rookie big could contribute much.

    My gut feeling is that we lose Nate to a better offer elsewhere, but it will be interesting to see if we even try to keep him.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    How much is the mini MLE? Is it $3 million?

    Seems plausible that some team might offer Nate $3 to $4 million per year. It may come down to the contract length and how long the Bulls are willing to commit to.

    This situation shows how futile it was to attempt to turn back the clock with Hinrich. If Bulls had instead exercised their 1-year option on CJ Watson they would be in a much better position. (And in a year that EVERYONE should have known that Rose would be out and therefore a lost season).

  • In reply to Edward:

    Yep, $3 million per for 3 years max, for the mini MLE. So that is all the "extra" money that the Bulls will have to spend this offseason. They better spend wisely.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    So maybe that's part of the reason Bulls gave Malcolm Thomas a 2-year contract (non-guaranteed). By signing him now, his minimum salary won't count against the mini MLE for next season, as he won't be a new signing.

  • Didn't Beli sign a one year and they could use some of the Mid level to resign Nate. Doubt he costs more than 2m per so resigning isn't the issue. I too doubt they resign him unless its a minimum or near minimum deal as the GarPax monster doesn't value offensive players.

    Still saying Kirk was a bad signing. Saying Nate brings more offense than Kirk is a massive understatement.

    Whose idea was it to let Loul Deng "play" hero ball!?!?!? Should have just let the ball boy come in and give it a go... Like Loul but that is so not his game.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Forgot to mention Great win! I totally said yesterday they are likely to win this one as I thought they had no shot. Everytime I say that they make a game of it or pull out the W.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Belli signed for the bi-annual exception($1.9 million), which I believe we will not have available this offseason. He could however resign for a portion or all of the mini MLE, just like Nate. However, I doubt that $3 million is enough to split between the 2 of them, even if they both get the full 3 years, but who knows what the market for them will be.

  • Aw, man that was a great game. It's so great to get that win and see with all the techs and hard fouls that the Bulls and the Knicks genuinely hate each other again the way it always should be.

    Finally some back up. I've been screaming all year to friends, family and internet strangers that Nate-Rob is exactly the player Scott Skiles wanted Ben Gordon to be. Only he's better because he can play point guard where Gordon was always a matchup problem at SG. Not sure it should be a choice between Kirk and Nate though, they actually perform outstanding as a unit. If we can keep Nate around for the price of Rip's contract that would be ideal.

    Yeah, that was a bad play by Deng saved by a bad shot by Carmelo. Deng should know better than to try and play the whistle in a game like this. But can we please stop trying to replace the man? Thibs and Reinsdorf are both wearing 9 jerseys under their suits. He's not going anywhere and he shouldn't go anywhere so long as 1) He's a top ten SF and 2) Lebron James is still in our conference.

    Belinelli's still got some room to grow with this club I think he'll have some more big moments. I'd like to see him stick around too.

    But Jimmy, my goodness. This kid is unbelievable. He also deserves a little rest I think. 48 minutes against Toronto and I think 50 against against the Knicks. That just about says it all about how important he is to this team right now and how valuable he's going to be going forward.

  • great game, the bulls played tough and never gave up despite the slow start. I think you need a nate robinson or jr smith 6th man fearless scorer off the bench but the bulls will say in order to develop teague and the return of rose, nate will not be retained which I think is a big mistake. Besides a backup center, scoring is still the number one issue facing the bulls. Who is going to score off the bench next year? Hinrich???

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