Joakim Noah followed up his triple double with another near triple double as the Bulls cruised past the Brooklyn Nets. The Bulls will head into the all-star break with a three game win streak, a 1.5 game lead on the Hawks, and trailing the Raptors by a game for 3rd in the East.
It's nice to see the Bulls play well again, and much like the team last year, the Bulls are starting to play well again rather than just scraping by against the dregs of the league. They had a couple of quality wins on their road trip, and dismantled two of the Eastern Conference playoff teams this week [even if those teams aren't so hot by typical standards].
Chicago seems to have found a groove again.
Jimmy Butler ends slump by avoiding threes
Jimmy Butler's percentages this season are down, way down. However, he's found some nice efficiency over the past two nights by attacking the basket and avoiding the three point shot. He's not taken a three for two consecutive games and has shot a combined 11 for 17 over that stretch.
It's a nice run for a guy who's presently shooting 37.9% on the season. His 2pt% is down considerably this season too, but it can be tougher to hit more twos, especially jumpers, if you are shooting lots of threes because the arc and angle is different for a mid range shot than a three point shot.
Butler's shooting 48% on two point attempts over the past 10 games vs 28% from the three point line. I know the Bulls want him to space the floor, but his three point shot sure doesn't seem good enough this year, and we've seen him go into crises of confidence with the shot as well.
Beyond giving the Bulls generally inefficient results, waiting beyond the arc can pull him too far away from the offensive glass where Butler typically does a lot of damage with his hustle and energy.
I'm not suggesting that the Bulls eliminate the shot from Butler's game, but they may want to limit those looks for this season and let him refine the shot over the off-season. Butler may also benefit from sticking to just corner threes and becoming a Bruce Bowen type specialist from that area on the floor.
Joakim Noah's finally healthy
That's what Noah said a few weeks back when noting it was the healthiest he's felt in a long time.
Noah's been on an absolute tear lately. This might be the best season of his career. His rebounding has been perhaps the best it's ever been, his passing has been phenomenal, and he's really taken on a leadership role in tough circumstances with Deng leaving the team and Rose out with injury.
If Noah can give the Bulls two more years at this level, and Derrick Rose can come back strong then I'm excited to see what the two of them can do. They'll still need to fill in some holes, as the Bulls obviously need one more high volume, offensive shot creator, but it hits me sometimes that this team still has potential to be awfully good next year.
Paxson taking change? Slow deadline?
John Paxson came out and noted that the Bulls would likely sit out this trade deadline. Paxson has always been extraordinarily up front with the media. He's the anti-Krause. There's no sleuthing. When he says something it's because it's true, there's no counter intelligence going on.
The comments makes sense given they have little money under the tax, so they could only make a trade that sends out more money than comes back.
On top of that, they have little incentive to trade for a short term piece or rental. Paxson simply noted that it didn't look like attractive long term pieces were available, and he's right. At this point, I think it's more likely teams are trying to steal from the Bulls, hoping their rebuilding, then looking for their assets to give up players.
The lone shot of anything big happening is if NY decided to dump Anthony as well as Carmelo agreeing to an extension with Chicago. However, I don't think either of those two things would happen and certainly not both.
Perhaps what's even more interesting to note though is not what Paxson said, but the fact that Paxson is saying anything at all. For quite some time, it seems like Gar Forman was brought in to do all the day to day media stuff, but recently, we've see John Paxson at a lot of the press conferences.
I don't think any of us really understand the specifics of their working relationship (if one of them largely manages personnel, the other media, joint decisions on all things, if one guy (Paxson) has veto power, etc... However, it's just interesting to note that Paxson is starting to be more visible in the press.
Happy Valentine's Day Bulls fans!
I hope you're all in love, celebrating, and that you've made sure your significant others "see red" (roses) tonight.