For the millionth time – the Chicago Bulls don’t win with efficiently executed offensive basketball. They hustle, grind out gritty wins, who look a little bit easier when someone catches a good shooting day while the defense doesn’t suffer from any meltdowns. And even on a bad day, sometimes, the individual talent of Luol Deng comes out, while the unpredictability of Nate Robinson works in their favor.
Robinson, one of only 7 Bulls players to take a part in their 87-86 win over the Orlando Magic, finished with 19 points, 12 of them coming in the final quarter. He scored nine of his points as the Bulls turned a late five point deficit into an 87-78 lead, sparked by an 18-4 run that also saw Deng hit two three pointers, also finishing with 19 points on a terrible 5-18 night from him, going 0-3 from beyond the arc up to that point.
Besides the starting five of Hinrich-Mohammed-Deng-Boozer-Butler that doesn’t offer much in terms of offensive creativity, the only players to see some minutes were Robinson and Vladimir Radmanovic, both playing more than 23 minutes. Tom Thibodeau has some difficult rotations to pull off in the final days of the season, with Joakim Noah being the main ingredient missing from his team, but injuries to Marco Belinelli and Taj Gibson have been upsetting as well, although Chicago have been doing well in any case, moving only 0.5 a game behind the Brooklyn Nets for fourth in the East.
Even without their famous rebounding advantage, the Bulls made it on the ability of Nate Robinson to turn a game upside down by pushing it into a different pace, turning an awful shooting performance (40.2% from the field, nothing new for Chicago) into a clutch win, shortly after winning their previous game by hitting the go ahead basket.
While Deng offers consistency in terms of the stats and the minimum you’ll get from him on the floor (although not with his shooting accuracy), Nate Robinson is a complete wild card, but pretty much the only things that doesn’t look stagnant at times on the Bulls offense. Yes, Kirk Hinrich brings a sense of order during his minutes, but when things aren’t going well, which happens quite a lot, Robinson is the guy to shake things up.
Will it be enough in a series? Robinson isn’t exactly a playoff experienced player. Defense wins games in the postseason, but ugly offense doesn’t help either. Unless the Bulls see some magical recovery from all of their injured players, it’s going to be a bumpy, unpleasant on the eyes road till the end of the season.