5 Things to Watch for During Chicago Bulls' Final Games
Chicago Bulls basketball has been fun to watch, and don’t expect things to change for the remainder of the season.
What a year this has been for Joakim Noah and the gang. The team currently owns a 32-26 record, which is unbelievable knowing Derrick Rose is in street clothes and Luol Deng now plays for another team.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is doing yet another phenomenal job on the sidelines, getting his club to play its trademark suffocating defense each and every night.
As Chicago plays its final games of the season, what are a few things for fans to keep their eyes on?
Does Tony Snell have any more 20-point nights left up his sleeve? The rookie swingman, who averages only 5.7 points per game, dropped 20 in a Feb. 21 win over the Denver Nuggets.
Will D.J. Augustin, a huge free-agent pickup for the Bulls, continue to play exceptional at the point guard spot?
All stats are from Basketball-Reference.com and accurate as of March 2, 2014.
More Blowout Victories
Chicago prides itself on defense. With Coach Thibs calling the shots, the team is allowing only 92.3 points per game (second best in the Association).
Scoring is a totally different story, as the Bulls are dead last in scoring with a measly 93.1 points per game.
But just because they’re the league’s worst-scoring team doesn’t mean they can’t destroy opponents at times. Chicago’s 117-89 win over Denver is a perfect example.
The Bulls truly locked down the Golden State Warriors, picking up a 103-83 victory. During that contest, none of Golden State’s starters managed to score double figures, not even All-Star guard Stephen Curry.
If we’re talking about blowout Bulls victories, we can’t leave out their Dec. 5 stomping of the Miami Heat, which they managed to do without the injured Rose and Jimmy Butler.
Are more of these types of beatdowns on the horizon?
Two Showdowns with the Indiana Pacers
The March schedule is a tough one for the Bulls. Not only will they face teams like the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, they’ll play the Indiana Pacers twice in three games. Yeah, that’s pretty tough.
Indiana, who owns the league’s top record, is obviously a difficult club to beat. The Pacers roster includes two All-Stars in Paul George and Roy Hibbert as well as Lance Stephenson, who probably also deserved to make the midseason classic. And let’s not forget about David West and newcomer Evan Turner.
The Bulls are 1-1 against Indiana this season, getting blown out at Indianapolis and later blowing out George and Co. in the Windy City.
How will Chicago fare in its two final games with its Central Division rival? It should be a pair of interesting matchups between two exceptional defensive teams.
A few years ago, Jimmer Fredette was a larger-than-life college superstar at BYU. Unfortunately, his NBA career hasn’t been as spectacular.
While Fredette won’t come in and put up 20 points a night, he should help out when it comes to outside shooting. He has hit 49.3 percent of his long-range attempts this season.
The Bulls are one of the league’s worst-shooting teams, ranking 26th in three-point percentage.
Although he isn’t the world’s greatest defender, Fredette can add a little bit of scoring punch to the lineup. He put up 24 during a game vs. the New York Knicks earlier this season.
We'll see if he can have an impact off the Bulls bench. And we’ll also see if Chicago fans are ready for Jimmermania.
More Monster Performances from Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah was named an All-Star this year, an honor he undoubtedly deserved.
The seventh-year big man is having a sensational season yet again, leading the way for the Rose-less Bulls.
Noah has put together a slew of big-time performances thus far. On Jan. 15 against the Orlando Magic, he recorded 26 points, 19 rebounds, six assists and two blocks. Now that’s what you call an All-Star-type stat line.
He got his fourth career triple-double, contributing 19 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in a Feb. 11 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Noah dished out at least 11 assists in two other contests as well, including a whopping 13 vs. the Toronto Raptors.
Thirteen assists is great for a point guard, but it’s simply magnificent for a 6’11” center.
Bulls fans will sit back and look for more stat-stuffing efforts from Noah. Don’t forget the popcorn!
Will the Injury Bug Continue to Bite?
The Bulls were considered title contenders heading into the season. That made sense, knowing a healthy Rose was back in the lineup to go along with guys like Deng, Noah, Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler.
However, any dreams of a championship went out the window when the dreaded injury bug decided to show up.
Rose, the face of the franchise, tore his right meniscus, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season. What a blow, especially for a guy who tore his ACL two seasons ago.
Injuries, though, haven’t just affected Rose. Butler has missed 15 games, and Kirk Hinrich was unable to go for nine contests. In addition, Boozer has sat out six times so far this season.
Let’s hope the bug stays away and this squad can have a strong finish.