The Chicago Bulls are on a nice little 5 game winning streak and appear to be finding their form. They have a pretty big test ahead of them that starts on Thursday against the Denver Nuggets. It’s a six game road trip that includes four games in five days. The staff and I took a look at how the Bulls have faired over the last week or so and if they can pass this test.
1. The Bulls went 2-0 since we last analyzed them. Are they finally starting to find their form? Is Derrick Rose back for good after that game he had against Indiana?
Brandon B: Yeah, that slow start seems to be history now. Derrick Rose is finally getting his timing back, but he’s still a long way from where he was. He’ll get back.
Brandon C: No, it will take longer than the first 10 or so games on the season for the team to gel correctly. Rose looks to be back for good in his starting role.
Marty R: If the Bulls can avoid the injury bug, they should be able to continue finding their stride and play solid basketball. Unfortunately the team has had its share of injuries so far and this can slow their progression. The bright side is that the rash of injuries allow bench players to step up and build chemistry. Come playoff time, this will be a good thing.
Dylan B: The Bulls are still finding there identity as they adjust to having Rose back. It’s going to take a little bit more time, but Rose is coming around. I give him probably five more games before he’s fully settled back in.
2. Is Luol Deng the most important player on this team right now? If not, who is it and why?
Brandon B: Again, the most important player is D-Rose. We all know that. The Bulls will only go as far as he takes them. Now that he’s practically back Deng simply becomes a complementary All-Star.
Brandon C: While Deng has been the leader on the score sheet he is not the most important player. Jimmy Butler is the most important player due to the potential offense he can generate for himself and the rest of the team.
Marty R: While Lu is a vital cog in the Bulls wheel, the team lives and dies with Derrick Rose. We’ve seen that they can be a competitive team without him, but his presence on the court changes the dynamic of the game in a way that Deng doesn’t.
Dylan B: You could make an argument for just about any player on the team, but I do think Luol is the most important player on the team right now. He’s been very consistent for the Bulls and has show the ability to hit shots late in the game. He is a guy that can be counted on to take and make that shot at the end if the Bulls need it.
3. After Monday’s game against Charlotte, the Bulls go on a 6 game road trip with 4 of those games being in 5 days. Will Derrick Rose’s hamstring be able to handle that much action in so little time?
Brandon B: Derrick Rose is fine. There is nothing to worry about.
Brandon C: Rose’s hamstring will be fine.
Marty R: I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rose have his minutes limited in any game that isn’t close. It’s important that he play so he can get back up to speed, but it needs to be done in a way that won’t jeopardize his health come April.
Dylan B: I think this might be a little dangerous for Rose. This is a lot of action in a small time frame, so I could see Thibodeau limiting him some, but not much. You want him healthy throughout the year, but don’t need to be babying him.
Predictions for games Thursday @Denver, Friday @Portland, Sunday @LA Clippers, and Monday @Utah!
Brandon B: Thursday @Denver (Loss)– Friday @Portland (Win)– Sunday @ LA Clippers (Loss)– Monday @ Utah (Win)
Brandon C: Bulls win by 8 in Denver. Trailblazers top the Bulls by double-digits and give a strong defensive performance against Rose and company. The Clippers come out on top with a healthy Blake Griffin. Carlos Boozer records a double-double in a big win for the Bulls in Salt Lake City.
Marty R: Bulls 95 Denver 81, Bulls 88 Portland 101, Bulls 92 Los Angeles 97, Bulls 102 Utah 91
Dylan B: The Bulls struggle a little in Denver and lose by 5. They bounce back in Portland the next night, slow down LaMarcus Aldridge, and win by 8. Bulls fall to Clippers by 4, Chris Paul is too much. Bulls handle Utah easily by 15.
Also, a side note from our very own Brandon Cain…. Jimmy Butler finally got a haircut!!