The NBA All-Star Game marks the midway point in the season and with just a week away until it happens it’s not to early to lay out a preemptive playoff picture.
The Chicago Bulls traveled to Milwaukee to face the Milwaukee Bucks in the last game in their regular season match-ups in the three games leading up to it Chicago went 2-1 blowing a 27-point lead last time they faced each other. It was a different story Wednesday night as the Bulls beat the Bucks 104-88 behind 24 points from Nate Robinson and 18 from Jimmy Butler. So what were the story lines behind this game?
Well first and foremost as it says in the title, this game may be something that we see in the playoffs. Chicago is currently the third seed in the Eastern Conference only one game behind the New York Knicks while the Bucks are sitting in the seventh seed. It isn’t a stretch to see these teams facing off in a seven game series and with the return of Derrick Rose coming soon the Knicks better watch out.
The second most important thing to notice is the stats. Robinson displayed the “good-Nate,” type of play that fans love and opponents hate while Butler continued to show his worth for the Bulls. Butler played 27 minutes compared to Luol Deng’s 40 and while 27 minutes is by no means bad it doesn’t mean much if Deng is still running with him. Butler is versatile and him and Deng CAN run the floor together but they shouldn’t. Butler should be playing in place of Deng to rest the All-Star in hopes of keeping him healthy. Butler is averaging a +19 PER which didn’t even lead the team. That alone says something about the depth of this team.
Other notable are Joakim Noah’s double-double of 12 points and 12 boards and Deng’s double-double of 12 points and 13 boards.
One stat that caught the eye was Richard Hamilton’s minutes; he only played 17 minutes and scored 10 points. This is interesting to look at seeing as he is supposedly healthy and has long been considered the starter. So with that in mind what’s the deal with his minutes? I have only one theory and that is the impact that Butler is having. I would rather have Butler running the floor over Hamilton based solely on his youth and athleticism and versatility.
Other than Hamilton’s minutes head coach Tom Thibodeau once again opted to sit Daequan Cook. The Bulls head to Brooklyn tonight to face the Brooklyn Nets.