If you're feeling nostalgic it's perfectly normal.
The circus trip is over-for good.
Chicago certainly finished out the circus trip era with a bang, taking care of a Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia team by the score of 105-89. The Bulls were in complete control of this game and never looked in the rearview mirror. This win was expected but capping off a strenuous road trip with a win is alleviating. With the victory Fred Hoiberg's group improved their record to 10-6, which is good for a share of third place in the Eastern Conference. Heading into the often punishing circus trip most Bulls' fan would've been happy with a five-hundred record of 3-3. After Friday night the visitors head home with a road trip record of 4-2.
I'll take it, and so will Jimmy Butler who continues to be on an absolute tear. Over his last ten games JB has averaged 27.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. He got the ball rolling early as himself and his teammates went on an 8-0 run to start the game. Chicago was up by as much as 12 in the first as Butler and former Sixer Isaiah Caanan lead the way with 8 and 6 points respectively. Philadelphia welcomed the former Murray State Racer with a chorus of boos. Jahlil Okafor was one of the only bright spots for Philly in the first frame, scoring 6 points. However, the big man from Witney Young could only muster up 10 points total.
Throughout the season Fred Hoiberg has staggered Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade's minutes so that Wade can play with the first group coming off the bench. The lineup of Wade, Portis, Valentine, Caanan, and Mirotic otherwise known as the "Dead Lineup" were able to hold down the fort and keep the lead. Nevertheless, Hoiberg has to stick another starting caliber player with this group soon. This group had a defensive rating of 105.3 and a net rating of -8.1. The Sixers were starting to unravel slightly in the second frame and the Bulls were up ten at the half.
It seemed like Brett Brown's team gave up in the third, and just as Chicago has done all season-they put them away. The Bulls stretched the lead to 26 at one point and Philly had no more fight in them. Despite a poor shooting display from beyond the arc, rebounding and second-chance points continues to be a calling card for this team. As Rajon Rondo led the way on the glass with 8 boards, the rest of the squad followed suit grabbing 51 rebounds total, 11 of which were offensive which led to 15 second-chance points.
The fourth quarter was the Dwyane Wade show. The spry 34 year-old dropped 11 of his 26 points in just over 4 minutes of action in the final frame. All that remained was garbage time as the Bulls cruised to victory. Friday night wasn't much to write home about but Chicago keeps on taking care of teams they should, and that matters when the standings start to bunch up in the second half of the season.
Consistency is becoming consistent, and after watching last years' bunch it's certainly refreshing.
Bon voyage circus trip! Good riddance.