For the first time since becoming the Chicago Bulls head coach, Tom Thibodeau experienced a losing month, but March is turning out to be a return to normal. No, Derrick Rose isn’t here and the closer we get to the postseason, it’s clearer that he won’t be, but Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer hold the key to success even without the injured superstar.
What does Noah do after a career night against the 76ers (23 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocks)? He pulls off another big one, with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks and 2 steals, as the Bulls beat the Brooklyn Nets 96-85, replacing the Nets in the Eastern Conference rankings, 0.5 games ahead of them, sitting at fifth in the conference.
It’s been an up-and-down year. But I really feel like when we’re playing our best, we can really beat a lot of people. So the potential is definitely there. It doesn’t matter if Derrick is coming back or not. I know the building’s always packed and they’re showing a lot of love.
One thing you know you’ll get from Noah each and every night is hustle and effort. Sometimes, that talent that seems to be hiding in what sometimes looks like an awkward basketball body and style, is good enough to dominate on more than just the boards and defense, as Noah shows his vision and hidden post moves.
It’s crazy to see a guy like him dominate in every aspect of the game. he way he scores the ball, passes the ball, defends. He always has at least two or three in every category, not to mention 20 points, 20 rebounds. It’s amazing to see the energy that he brings and how it transfers from the offensive end all the way back to the defensive end.
A player you usually expect to be more efficient on offense is Carlos Boozer, who had a very good game with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals, enjoying great defense from his teammates to come up with the right hand at the right time. Boozer might be the most important and talented offensive player on this team, and his consistency, forgetting about being somewhat of a problem in certain defensive sets, might be the most important thing for Chicago as they try to improve positions in the final 23 games of the season.
Effort, hustle, it’s all across the board on this Chicago team, but they’re going to need whatever talent they have to come out and blossom. Luol Deng needs to get out of his offensive funk, even if he’s doing everything else besides scoring. He’s averaging only 13.3 points per game over the last 10, and the Bulls won’t get very far once again with his performances on offense being disappointing.
The point guard play is often crucial, knowing that creating shots and playing organized basketball has been extremely difficult this season. Kirk Hinrich does a better job at at least making things move well than Nate Robinson. He scored 12 points and is still a dangerous outside shooter (39.8% from three) when given the chance. The Bulls need him to keep his shot count down, and his shot selection at its best to remain un-ugly on offense, which hasn’t happened too much lately.
This is what Chicago have, with Rose probably missing the entire season. Even if he does comeback, they won’t risk him with too many minutes on the floor, be sure of that. The Bulls have to win with what’s on their table, which isn’t much compared to the best teams in the NBA, but they still believe they belong to be named among the elite.