WHO would have thought that some preseason fisticuffs would eventually turn the Bulls into the best team in the NBA over the past fortnight. After Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis exchanged blows Chicago’s year seemed destined for negative headlines and a shit load of L’s. However, the 3-20 Bulls have recaptured some untapped mojo and are surging through the league with seven wins in eight tries. Are they here to stay or is Chicago destined to crash back to Earth?
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THE start of Chicago’s 2017-18 campaign was always going to be a lottery destined venture after they shipped Jimmy Butler away in the offseason. A roster boasting no real All-Star calibre talent (sorry LaVine and Dunn, not yet) and a bunch of unproven role players weren’t going to win a ton of games and losing 20 of their first 23 games seemed like they were on track for a top-three lottery pick.
THEN Nikola Mirotic returned and everything was rosy as they tore through their next seven games in bizarre fashion. All of a sudden they were averaging 15 more points a night shooting the lights out canning over 7% more of their shots. Mirotic wasn’t the only Bull who improved with Kris Dunn thriving in a starting role now.
WHILE their recent surge has been impressive don’t fall into the trap of thinking this Bulls team is here to stay. The win they had over Boston came without Kyrie Irving in uniform and the same can be said against Philly who had Joel Embiid sidelined. Their other wins during that streak came over the Hornets, Knicks, Jazz, Bucks and Magic.
NONE of those opponents are exactly world beaters so the streak isn’t as impressive as some may seem. The only other three games Chicago had won before came against Charlotte, Orlando and Atlanta as well, so even though they have 10 wins now from 31 tries, all those W’s have more or less come from fellow cellar dwellers.
THERE were some that thought Chicago could maintain this and perhaps emulate something similar to what Miami did last year. After starting 10-31 the Heat then went on a 31-10 tear to narrowly miss out on a playoff spot. This Bulls team is not that Heat team though.
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TO close out 2017, four of their five opponents are current playoff teams and they open the new year with the same schedule. Chances are they will lose eight of those matches against better teams with the other two games against the Knicks and Mavericks almost a coin flip.
IT’S still impressive that they went on this streak without rookie sensation Lauri Markkanen for a handful of games. With Zach LaVine waiting in the wings there will be flashes of promise throughout the rest of the season and positive moments, but these streaks aren’t a regular thing. Nikola Mirotic won’t keep averaging 20 points and shoot over 50% from the field and 45% from three. It was fun while it lasted, but expect to see more losing streaks before winning streaks reappear.
Banner from dailyherald.com