Well Pippen Peoples, we are now down to one more game. Then the playoffs start. The new season begins and the real basketball starts. I am very excited and blessed to be covering the playoffs as a part of Pippen Ain’t Easy, the best choice for Chicago Bulls news, previews and reviews. However, we have to get there first, so the season has to go on a little bit further with a lot of scenarios that have to be figured out. One of the scenarios that have yet to be decided is the number three seed in the Eastern Conference. As of this writing, the Bulls are in the fourth slot behind the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors have the tiebreaker over the Bulls courtesy of being the Atlantic Division champs. (Thanks New York, the team that keeps on sticking me.) On Monday night the Chicago Bulls took care of business by rolling the Orlando Magic 108-95, to keep pace with the Raptors who beat the Milwaukee Sucks…I mean Bucks 110-100. For the Bulls to get the third seed on the last day of the season, the Bulls must defeat the Charlotte Bobcats AND the Toronto Raptors must lose to the New York Knicks. This is achievable goal Pippen Peoples, believe me. Even though it’s not going to be a cakewalk beating the Bobcats, the Knicks realistically have a good chance of beating the Raptors even without Carmelo Anthony. Toronto may sit some players, most notably Kyle Lowry who has had knee issues lately. The Knicks have plenty of motivation considering the structure of this team will change. The Knicks players will try to impress the Zen Master who is making moves now as we speak.
In this win, there is no surprise here. The Bulls were supposed to win and they did. It’s just good they didn’t play all of those overtimes like they did earlier this season to get it done. Joakim Noah did his thing flirting with a triple double scoring 18 points grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out eight assists. Mike Dunleavy scored 22 points to lead the Bulls. The big story of the night was the change in rotation. DJ Augustin did not play in the game due to the birth of his son. (Congratulations DJ to you and yours. Hope the mother and son are doing great!) That opened up a lot of minutes to a lot of players that usually wouldn’t see the court. What these guys did with those minutes is what I learned…
1) Oh my God! Jimmer Fredette is still alive???
I have noticed from time to time that my “shoot from the hip” style of writing rubs some of the Pippen Peoples the wrong way sometimes. Oh well, it is what it is. But I do pay attention to what they say. I remember bringing up the fact in one of my lessons learned that Jimmer Fredette had only scored 17 points up to that point while being in a Bulls uniform. I got an angry comment saying that the stat was used out of context because Fredette hadn’t played. My only reply was…Will he? Well he did play last night and he played very well. Jimmer Fredette scored 17 points last night on a solid 7-14 shooting from the field. He added three rebounds and two assists. He did turn the ball over three times but so what? He’s rusty. No one on the Pippen Ain’t Easy website said that this guy can’t play the game of basketball. In my opinion if you are investing in FICA by shooting the ball in the league, you can play. But no one will ever know if your DNA is immersed on the bench. The Bulls can use this guy in the playoffs. He has the ability to score the ball via the jumper and the floater in the lane. Sadly, my guess is that this will be the last time we see the guy playing extended minutes this season, but for one night Jimmer Fredette proved that he’s not another cheaper version of Marquis Teague.
2) Oh my God! Tony Snell is still alive too?
Okay these are light-hearted jokes, but Tony Snell looked strong last night after having his minutes cut back the last few weeks. He scored 13 points with two rebounds off the bench. This is a very important game for Tony Snell, Pippen Peoples. Tony Snell is definitely in limbo these days going into the playoffs. He hasn’t played all that great lately to start with and we all know that Coach Tom Thibodeau does not trust rookies to start with. With that being said, the fact that Snell was going to have a strong impact in the playoffs minutes wise was not going to happen. Plus with the Bulls started bringing in all of these veteran players couldn’t have helped the rookie out with his confidence. Let’s be clear here everyone, this was important game for Snell to come out and show what he can contribute in the playoffs not only to the coaching staff, but to himself.
When I read that the Chicago Bulls tried to reach out to Kurt Thomas and sign him, I thought…Really? I have given up trying to figure out the Bulls management team because that is a mental strain in itself. Kurt Thomas is 41 years old. In NBA years, he’s 541 years old. What I got out of that was that the Bulls may need a low post player with toughness to back up Joakim Noah in the postseason. it also spoke volumes about the confidence in Nazr Mohammed these days. The Bulls in the last few weeks have noticed that the bench needed depth which was pointed out by Pippen Ain’t Easy after the trade deadline. These two players that was mentioned earlier had very important performances with the postseason squad selections coming up. Speaking of Joakim Noah…
3) Joakim Noah is going to have to look for his shot going forward…and hit them.
I fully realize that the offense is being run through Noah. I realize that he has done a great job. But he does have a weakness. He tends to pass up shots and thread the needle with passes that get stolen from time to time. Joakim Noah destroyed the Magic scoring 18 points while holding Dewayne Dedmon to six points and fouling him out. Why? He was aggressive and looked for his shot. Noah took 16 shots against the Magic in the win. Against the Knicks he tallied just five. What’s the point? In the playoffs, whoever the Bulls play in the first round is going to back off Noah as he plays the high post and make him hit a jump shot or two. Noah is going to have to take what the defense gives him and take some shots. Noah in my opinion will have to put up at least 12-15 shots to help the offense. If he gets to passive, well we realize how this offense can bog down now don’t we?
Here’s the three things I learned…Now learn from this!
Jimmy Butler’s stat line…12 points, two rebounds, one assist and two steals. Butler shot 3-5 from the field and 6-7 from the line. Why am I giving him attention? He shot NO THREE POINT SHOTS! YES! This is the Jimmy Butler you need in the postseason Pippen Peoples, not the guy that fires up six or seven shots from distance.