Fighting, defending and hustling to somehow improve and maybe upgrade their NBA playoffs starting spot, the Chicago Bulls are clawing their way towards home advantage in the first series, as Luol Deng becomes more and more offensively dominant and efficient, something that should have happened earlier this season.
Having the Detroit Pistons on their schedule, something that has happened three times already with a fourth coming up on April 7 is a celebration day for the Bulls, beating Detroit 95-94 to make it 18 consecutive wins against them. Luol Deng is finally finding consistent offensive form, scoring 28 points to lead the team, averaging 23.6 points over their last five games, which is something the Bulls have been waiting to see from him, aside from the defense and the all-around contribution, all season long.
The rest of his teammates were about the usual – hustle, defense, and making up for lost players, as Joakim Noah continues to be absent, giving the excellent Jimmy Butler more time on the floor and in the starting lineup. The guy who usually subs for Deng played 39 minutes, scoring 16 points and adding 5 steals as the Bulls forced 17 turnovers and scored 24 points off of them, finding a lot of success since leaving Kirk Hinrich as the only guard on the floor to kick off the game.
It also seems to have given Nate Robinson some sort of new appreciation to his role with the team, making a bit more of better decisions and less of his unpredictable, wild and uninhibited brand of basketball. He still took 18 shots from the field in only 29 minutes, scoring 16 points, but it was when he was on the floor that the Bulls played their best basketball, giving the Bulls the right kind of energy to push through a tougher than expected game.
While waiting for Noah, they find out things. That Hinrich starting alone at guard, while giving Butler or Deng the chance to guard the SG on the other team isn’t such a bad idea, as Brandon Knight and Kyle Singler combined for only 13 points. That Nazr Mohammed isn’t such a bad option for more minutes, giving Boozer or Noah rest once their usual frontcourt is back in action. That Luol Deng can be a scorer and even a consistent one. They just need to hope his shooting form stays alive till the playoffs begin.