The Chicago Bulls have surged forward and are currently in the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference with a handful of games remaining.
Jimmy Butler had 39 points to lead the Bulls over the New Orleans Pelicans, 117-110, and suddenly, Chicago can taste the post-season.
The team has won four straight games and a win over the struggling New York Knicks (29-48) can solidify its position Tuesday night. The Bulls (38-39) travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the Knicks who just lost guard Derrick Rose for the remainder of the season with another knee injury. Rose has been snake-bit. He is scheduled to undergo surgery and the injury will lay him up for two months. Rose was traded to the Knicks for center Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant. Lopez has been a solid center for the Bulls.
It seems the Bulls got the better end in that deal. But now, the pressure is on Chicago to continue its winning streak and move up in the standings. Atlanta, the sixth seed is just a game away. And, a few games ago, who could have thought that?
Rajon Rondo has been excellent at point guard. He has distributed the ball very well, and in the last game, almost had a triple-double. A few games ago, he scored 25 points, his high for the season. Forward Nikola Mirotic had a hot last week in March, hitting 28 points two times. Forward Bobby Portis, the second year pro has played better of late as well. Butler has been on a tear and was just named Eastern Conference Player of the Week.
Chicago has shot the 3-ball much better of late, averaging ten made shots in the last 6-7 games. They were one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the League but have turned it around, just in time.
Suddenly it has come together for a team who had little identity and offensive fluidity for 70+ games. With a few more wins, the Bulls will see post-season for the first time under coach Fred Hoiberg.