It’s getting to that point in the season where every team knows what they’re going to get from their players every night. Rosters are pretty much solidified, roles are locked in, and teams are making their final pushes for playoff contention.
For the Chicago Bulls, their bench play will decipher how far this team can actually go for the duration of the season. As thin as coach Tom Thibodeau keeps his roster on a nightly basis, there isn’t much room for error. In terms of meaningful playtime, the Bulls only have seven players who have their numbers consistently called for more than 20 minutes on a given night. This means that as the season winds down, Thibodeau’s reserves will need to provide quality minutes to allot for the starters to rest as needed.
Tonight, the Bulls got some much needed support off of the bench from power forward Taj Gibson and D.J. Augustin. Both players combined for 48 of the team’s 105 points against the Detroit Pistons (26 from Augustin and 22 from Gibson). Granted the Pistons have their struggles to figure out, but the poor shot selection from Josh Smith and Will Bynum virtually handed this win to the Bulls in the second half.
Never in my mind would I think that a player stacking up triple doubles at the rate Joakim Noah has been from his center position would be overshadowed by the emergence of his teammates off the bench. This performance turned into his second triple double in the last three games, but he can only take this team so far without adequate support.
The point is, the Bulls are almost certainly going to be fighting to win ball games every night. When they can count on consistent efforts off the bench, like the one they got from Gibson and Augustin tonight, they are going to be a tough team to beat when the playoffs roll around next month.