The Chicago Bulls‘ rise to the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference has seemed meteoric as of late. Look at their record from about two months ago. They were several games below the .500 mark then and were struggling trying to get their team refocused for a playoff push.
Things took a turn in January when the team posted an 11-4 record over the course of the month. Up until Sunday, they had a 6-3 record to start off February. Things had certainly turned for the better; that was until they faced off against the Miami Heat sans LeBron James on Sunday. In that game, their woes resurfaced as the team’s offensive deficiencies and lack of firepower doomed them in the second half. Mind you that they looked less than average in a game where James didn’t even take the court.
Tuesday night was a night to bounce back and get a pretty good road win against the Atlanta Hawks. At one point they were one of the East’s top teams, but the loss of their star center, Al Horford, has really impacted the rest of their season.
This win was tough to come by, though, given the Bulls were shorthanded in the backcourt due to Jimmy Butler’s lingering injury to his ribs. In compensating for his absence, the team was able to get balanced scoring from the seven other players who get major minutes in the rotation. Most of all, the level that Joakim Noah has taken his game to lately has been nothing short of amazing. Everyone should take notice that he has turned out to be one of the most complete centers in the entire NBA.
Over the past three games, Noah has averaged 18.0 points per game and is pulling down 12.6 rebounds. Right now, there isn’t a bigger piece to the Bulls’ puzzle. Because you’re almost certain to get great effort from him every night, any success that the team will have going forward will be predicated on how well the rest of the team plays around him.