By Richard Kagan
The Chicago Bulls have been turning heads lately as the team has re-charged and re-focused during its almost bewildering five game winning streak. The streak started with the return of Nikola Mirotic to the Bulls lineup. Ever since he has been playing, the Bulls have won —and now, Mirotic predicted the Bulls would win on Monday night when it faces the Philadelphia 76’ers minus Joel Embiid, who has back issues.
Embiid is the force in the low post for Philly and he is the anchor of this young team who plays hard, in your face, Philly basketball. But Embiid won’t be playing. When the Bulls defeated Boston, Kyrie Irving was sidelined. Perhaps this is good timing. The Bulls have faced plenty of situations where things did not go its way.
However F Mirotic has been a pleasant surprise. He has averaged 25 points in his last three games. The Bulls need the offense since F Lauri Markkenen has been out with a fragile back. He is expected to return soon. But since Mirotic has stepped into his position, the Bulls have been on fire. Chicago has seen F Bobby Portis step up his game. He scored a career high 27 points versus the Milwaukee Bucks the other night. Mirotic had 22 points in the game.
Guard Kevin Dunn seems to improve day by day. He has been scoring in double figures and his assists and rebounds per game have increased. Robin Lopez has been steady at center. He scored 18 points in his last outing.
Mirotic and Portis have both pointed out that they are playing well off each other and the after-effects of their preseason fight, seem ages ago. Portis says the team is unified and wants to continue to compete and play well. This five game winning streak has come after a ten game losing streak. This might be the first time this has happened in the NBA.
Right now the Bulls are trending up.
The Bulls suddenly look like a team that belongs on the court. And, that is a great holiday gift.