YES!!! The Chicago Bulls won! YES!! The Chicago Bulls completed the season sweep on the Atlanta Hawks winning 105-92. The Bulls won the season series 4-0 and have won six straight going back to last season. Boy, do the Atlanta Hawks stink these days. The Hawks have lost 21 of their last 28 games and now stand percentage points behind the New York Knicks in ninth place in the Leastern Conference standings. YES! My Knicks are going to the playoffs! Oh, I’m supposed to be covering the Bulls? Sorry about that. Anyway the Bulls were led by DJ Augustin who is quickly becoming a star on the Bulls roster scoring 23 points while knocking down four three-point shots. Since Augustin was signed back in December, the Bulls are now 35-20. The Chicago Bulls have stretched their lead to 2 1/2 games over the Brooklyn Nets who lost to the New York Knicks who are now in the eighth place in the conference standings. YES! My Knicks are in the playoffs! YES! Oh, there I go again, sorry. Congratulations to Tom Thibodeau who won his 200th game coaching the Bulls. Here are the three lessons I learned in this game.
1) The Atlanta Hawks stink, but the Chicago Bulls did EXACTLY what they were supposed to do.
The Hawks obviously were not going to win this game. The Bulls did not come out with that mentality. This game was over after the second quarter thanks to a 16-3 run to obtain a lead that was never relinquished. This is a good thing, Pippen Peoples. The Bulls used to drive me nuts playing down to the competition. Great examples of this was the two games that they had against the Philadelphia 76ers who could have won the first game had it not been for Augustin (Let me give the Bulls some unsolicited advice…SIGN AUGUSTIN!) and didn’t put the Sixers away until late in the 4th quarter of the second. Even in the second game the Sixers couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean standing in Davy’s Locker. More recent proof you ask? How about the back to back with the Boston Celtics. This team is neck and neck with the Hawks planning for vacation time. The Bulls let these guys hang around as well. The Celtics could have one the first game if it wasn’t for…guess who DJ Augustin (Hey Bulls! Aw forget it.) who scored a career high 33 points. A team in the Bulls position needs to beat the teams they are supposed to beat. The Bulls did that against the Hawks. You see when the Bulls stay focused on what they are supposed to do early, they actually use that great defense to keep teams at arm’s length. Seems simple doesn’t it?
2) The Chicago Bulls can actually be fun to watch when everyone pitches in to score.
The Chicago Bulls simply had more firepower than the Atlanta Hawks. The Bulls had six players in double figures led by the aforementioned Augustin’s 23 points. Well there was a Kirk Hinrich sighting against the Hawks. Breaking News to Pippen Ain’t Easy…He actually scored! Seriously folks he scored. he really did. Hinrich had 17 points against the Hawks to offset the 21 points scored by Jeff Teague. You see Kirk, this is what you are supposed to do when you are the starting point guard. If you can’t stay in front of guards at least try to make them honest on the other end of the floor. Put this in your memory banks and move forward with this strategy. Jimmy Butler scored 17 points as well knocking down three shots from the land of plenty including one to put the game on ice. He shot eight three-point shots though, that’s still too many. Butler need to take the ball inside and use his skills more as a slasher or move without the ball so Noah can find him. Speaking of Joakim Noah, he had 10 points along with 10 rebounds and dominated the center matchup. The Bulls shot 12-25 from the land of three. Enjoy the moment because it might not happen again for a while. I hope I’m wrong…but I doubt it.
3) The Bulls are going to need more from Mike Dunleavy.
Every Bulls starter for the Bulls scored in double figures except for one. That one starter was Mike Dunleavy. He scored only eight points. The problem was it wasn’t because he had a bad shooting night. You see you actually have to shoot some to have a bad shooting night. Here’s his line against Atlanta 2-3 from the field, 2-2 from the three-point line and 2-2 from the charity stripe. What does this mean? It means he is not aggressive enough.. I have said this before, when Dunleavy shoots well, the Bulls almost always win. If he is not looking for his shot, he’s basically guarding himself. Don’t get it twisted Pippen Peoples, this guy can score. But he has to pose himself as a potential threat to score in the playoffs. Believe me I would rather watch Dunleavy shoot eight threes who can actually hit them than Jimmy Butler tossing up shots from distance (3-8 for Butler is “Fool’s Gold” trust me.) The Bulls pay him to shoot, let him shoot.
Here’s my three…learn from this!
Man since I got called out for calling Carlos Boozer the best player on the floor against the Portland TrailBlazers, old man Boozer has played well as of late…
First game against Boston: 7-10 from the field, 14 points and six rebounds.
Second game against Boston: 7-12 from the field, 2-2 from the line, 16 points and seven rebounds.
Last game vs. Atlanta: 5-8 from the field, 2-3 from the line, 12 points and six rebounds.
All in exactly 24 minutes every game before the street lights come on aka Taj time in the 4th quarter.