In the regular season finale, Tom Thibodeau decided to sit three crucial players: the reigning MVP Derrick Rose, glue guy Luol Deng, and sharpshooter Kyle Korver. These Bulls average a combined 45.2 points per game. With their absence, it would be expected that achieving a win, even over the Cleveland Cavaliers, would be somewhat challenging, but that was not the case.
The Bulls earned their 50th win of the season with a 107-75 victory. Most teams would not be able to accomplish such a win with only three of their starters, but Chicago has the Bench Mob to back them up.
The Bench Mob scored 75 of the Bulls’ points with all members contributing. John Lucas III led them with 25 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals. In his first stint off the bench, Omer Asik contributed tremendously on both ends of the floor with 6 points on 3-3 shooting and 4 rebounds in less than six minutes. He ended the night with 6 points, 9 rebounds, and 1 block. Taj Gibson posted a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds along with 4 blocks and 3 assists. Rookie Jimmy Butler rarely sees playing time, but with Deng and Korver resting, he found himself scoring in double figures with 12. With these contributions, the Bulls ended their regular season on a high note. It is this kind of play that has helped Chicago remain a legitimate contender.
The status of being one of the NBA’s elite teams was put in jeopardy many times throughout this shortened season due to an excessive amount of injuries that piled up on the Bulls’ difference makers. Despite the injuries, the Bench Mob continued to step up and became the difference makers. They played hard and did whatever it took to be the best.
The Bulls ended the regular season as the league’s best with a record of 50-16, but to remain the best and stay in the running for winning championship number seven, the Bench Mob must keep up the superb work throughout the playoffs. The starters alone cannot carry the team to a championship. They need help, and it’s the bench’s job to provide that assistance. This has not been an issue for them, but to assure that the winning continues, this cannot become an issue.