It’s time to put the doom and gloom behind us (for the moment at least), the Bulls are on a mini 2 game winning streak!
After dropping another rough one against the Philadelphia ’76ers to start the week, the Bulls bounced back, beating the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers. Saturday’s win against the Cavs marked the return of Alex Caruso to the Bulls’ lineup. After suffering a broken wrist on a flagrantly thuggish foul from Milwaukee Buck and registered ass, Grayson “I’m a Jerk” Allen, and missing a large chunk of games, Caruso made his presence felt against the Cavs. For the first time since that awful injury, the Bulls held an opponent to under 100 points in a game, something that was a fairly regular occurrence when Caruso was healthy.
While his stat line wasn’t anything near astonishing, Caruso did more than just score, rebound, and assist. His ability to organize the defense and hold teammates to a higher level of effort is what makes him so important to the Bulls. He’s BEEN THERE before. He’s won it all, and he knows what it takes to get to a championship. It’s amazing how just one guy can change so much for the Bulls. They forced more turnovers with Caruso in the lineup, had more bounce and energy in their play, rotated on defense better, scrambled for loose balls, and CHI SLAMMA JAMMA was back with a couple fast-break jams generated by turnovers; in short the CaruShow was in full effect.
I keep saying this, but this season has been such a pleasant change of pace for Bulls fans. It may sound strange, but 50 wins for the regular season is still achievable. The Bulls are currently in 4th place in the Eastern Conference, and if they can hold onto a top 4 slot, they will secure home court advantage for at least the 1st playoff series they face.
A lot of focus leading into the playoffs, from the press and from fellow Bulls fans, has been placed on staying out of the play-in tournament, and who the Bulls might face in potential 1st round scenarios. Quite assuredly, it’s in the best interest of any team to avoid the play-in, and how teams matchup will more than likely dictate how a series ends. Still, as important as those two talking points are for the Bulls, I think it’s equally important that this team not only avoid the play-in, but also secure home court advantage.
A good number of Bulls players have never experienced a playoff run. And the number of players that have experienced deep playoff runs is even smaller. DeMar DeRozan has made it to an Eastern Conference Finals once, and only Derrick Jones Jr and Alex Caruso have ever made it to an NBA Finals. While it doesn’t seem that important in this day and age of analytics, Alex Caruso’s return proves that there is something important about the Intangibles of Sport. Home court advantage could mean the difference in a close series for an inexperienced playoff squad like the Bulls.
I think that should be the Bulls focus going forward, staying top 4 in the East and securing home court advantage. Making the playoffs would be great, even making the play-in would be great after the last few seasons, but a top 4 finish is within the grasp of this team, just go for it! I’d much rather the Bulls focus on a positive goal, like a top 4 finish, than try to avoid a negative one, like staying out of the play-in tournament. The Bulls are an up-and-coming squad, they need to keep their eyes ahead of them and strive forward to a goal, not back away from disaster. There is power in how you approach a situation. I truly believe, if the Bulls attack the rest of this season with a positive goal in mind, even if they fail to achieve that goal, it will be more rewarding, less mentally and emotionally taxing, and set them up for better success in the playoffs.
No matter how the rest of this season turns out, it will no doubt be some of the most exciting basketball we’ve seen from the Bulls in nearly half a decade. Chicago has a mini West Coast run ahead of them this week, with games against the Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz, and Phoenix Suns. Let’s hope they can secure that top 4 finish. Until they do, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!