Seeing Red!

Last night the Bulls won their seventh in a row in Indianapolis defeating the Pacers 92-90 behind another strong performance by Jimmy Butler. Butler has a been a breakout star for Chicago really solidifying the starting five for Thibs’ squad. The return of Derrick Rose appears to a non-issue as he’s now averaging 18PPG, and more importantly 28.1 minutes per night. The Bulls are currently 22-9 and trail the Toronto Raptors by two games for tops in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls are currently fourth in rebounding and ninth in points allowed, and all of that can be attributed to the pairing of Noah and Gasol.

The Bulls offseason acquisition of Pau Gasol has gone better than expected as he’s currently second on the team in minutes, third in points, and leads the team in rebounds. The emergence of Jimmy Butler has added a much needed scoring threat to an offense that last year sputtered with putting the ball in the basket in the absence of Rose. Rose’s minutes are climbing and his points are also going up, the Bulls Nikola Mirotic has been a surprise, but certainly hasn’t shocked anyone with his success. Mitotic was seen as one of the best players in Europe before coming over from Real Madrid in the top Spanish League ACB.

With the emergence of Butler to go along with the return of Rose, a lot of people are starting to give the Bulls the nod as the favorite in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls currently have a 3.5 game lead on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the standings, and most people still think those teams will go one-two in some order at the end of the season. As it currently stands in the Eastern Conference, the oddsmakers have Chicago as 11:5 to win the east. The Bulls only trail the Cavs who’re 6:5 and currently odds on favorites to win the NBA Championship at 7:2. The Bulls are tied with the San Antonio Spurs at 13:2 to win the NBA Championship and clearly have asserted themselves as equals with anyone in basketball.

The Eastern Conference standings mean a lot to Chicago in the sense that they’re not going to want to travel outside of the United Center for those crucial odd games. The Bulls currently have the best road record in the league at 14-4, but the playoffs are a completely different animal in terms of style. The Bulls record at the UC isn’t nearly as good standing at 8-5, the Bulls play their next two games at the UC in which to improve that mark. Tonight the Bulls play host to the Brooklyn Nets (14-16), and on New Year’s night will host the Denver Nuggets (13-18). The Bulls have the best record in the league agains their own conference at 15-4, but have struggled against the west going 7-5 on the season.

All in all the Bulls appear to be one of the best teams in the league and should continue to have a strong year barring any injuries. The Bulls have one of the deepest rosters in the league, and with the front court presence that the Bulls possess with Gasol, Noah, and Gibson they should be able to own the glass on most nights. When pervasively mentioning the variance between regular season and playoff basketball, points allowed and rebounding is two of the most important factors behind being a viable team for a title. Something the Bulls are definitely starting to envision for themselves.