At the end of January, the Chicago Bulls seemed like they were right where they wanted to be. They were in the top-four of the race in the Eastern Conference for the NBA Playoffs, and had a solid record of 28-17. More impressively, that was all done without their star, Derrick Rose, on the floor for a single game this season because of his highly publicized ACL injury.
However, since the beginning of February, the Bulls have gone just 8-12, and have looked like they are simply hanging onto the edge of the cliff to keep from falling off. They’ve suffered through minor injuries to Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, as well as more serious injuries to Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson.
What has really been hampering them and causing their lack of success over their last 20 games, though, has been their offensive efficiency.
Over their last 20 games, the Bulls have shot just 42.3 percent from the field, the second-worst in the NBA over that time. They have also shot just 30.7 percent from beyond the arc over that same stretch, the third-worst efficiency rate from long range over that span. As a result, the Bulls have had the second-worst offense in the league over that time, averaging just 89.7 points per game.
The Bulls are a defensive-minded team, but when a team averages less than 90 points per game, it’s hard to come out on top. However, it’s also hard to shoot with high efficiency when your leader in field goal percentage is Gibson at 48.9 percent and your leading three-point shooter is Hinrich at 39.8 percent, especially since both have been hampered by injuries over the last 20 games.
As the Bulls move forward, hopefully towards Rose’s potential return and towards hanging onto their spot in the playoffs, they have to find a way to score more efficiently. Whether that means pounding the rock down low to Noah and Boozer more or taking less contested jumpers, they have to do something.
If they don’t, they are in serious danger of dropping out of the playoffs, or even worse, having to play the Miami Heat in the first round.