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Bulls Thu Dec 20 2012

The Bulls Are Unseasonably Hot in December


It's that time of year where Chicagoans incessantly small talk about the "aberrant" December weather, but what the city should be chit-chatting about is their unseasonably hot basketball team. The Bulls have a record of 7-3 record in the month, and after the previous game's defensive tussle, where the Bulls lost by scoring an insufficient 71 points against the Memphis Grizzles, the team bounced back on Tuesday at the United Center to beat the detested Boston Celtics 100-89. It was fun. Like, the most fun any Bulls game has been since Derrick Rose tore his ACL and ripped out championship optimism in the hearts of all Bulls fans. To continue the perpetuation of the tired Ice Cube lyric, Joakim Noah messed around and got a triple-double (if I didn't say the lyric, you'd think it). Nate Robinson hit five three-pointers including one that was from such long-range it was as if he shot it from Albany Park. Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer both had 21 points. Oh and Robinson did this. Like I said, the game was fun.

The Bulls did exactly what they needed to do after a road loss wherein they shot poorly: they attacked the basket. The team notched 48 points in the paint and made 21-of-24 free throws. They appeared confident once they secured a lead. In fact, since the November 26th Milwaukee Bucks meltdown, where the Bulls had a 27 point third-quarter lead, the team hasn't lost a game that they've led by four points at any point in the second half.

Overall the Bulls are winning with, you sighed and guessed it, defense. The Bulls Per 100 possessions on defense are the third best in the league at 100.2. Normally defensive machines with six new parts (although most don't play due to the overworking of two components) usually don't start to click this early in a season. Like the "bench mobs" before them in the Thibodeau era, the Bulls second unit know there's no "I" in defense, but there is one in "win". Aside from creating their own shots regularly, the major deficiency for the Bulls in this budding season is playing against the elite teams from the Western Conference.

Life-long Chicagoans don't understand the West, nor do they want to. You have to drive places in a "car", guys wear flip-flops often, and it's nice enough outside to day-drink on a patio all-year long. Against the Western Conference, the Bulls have failed their sobriety field test. They've lost to the Los Angels Clippers on two occasions, and they didn't have proper answers to Memphis and Oklahoma City's offensive questions. Against second and third tier Western conference teams like New Orleans, Houston and Portland, the Bulls have stumbled. The good news is, the team belongs to the Eastern conference. A couple games against the San Antonio Spurs, another with Memphis and Oklahoma City, but aside from that, the conundrum that is playing the West will be an after thought. All you can do is play the teams you're scheduled against. There's obviously no collusion amongst the Western Conference teams to defeat the Bulls, but this coincidence should be pointed out. Once the entire team spends another month familiarizing themselves with Thibodeau system and each other, they will play better against unfamiliar foes.

If the Bulls keep playing the way they do in December, they can beat any Eastern Conference team in a seven-game playoff series with the exception of an interested Miami Heat. Without Derrick Rose. Of course it would literally take seven games because this roster as is doesn't have a closer but this might be a moot point if Rose returns. In the six games the Bulls play the rest of the month the team should go 4-2. They face tough competition up until the day after Christmas with games against New York, Houston, Indiana and Atlanta, but it'll get easier in games against Charlotte and Washington to end the year.

This team is fun again to watch. Ask the bartender at your local watering hole to put the sound on for the game. Invite some buddies over to watch a January Bulls game on the HDTV your girlfriend got you for Christmas. Point being, it's okay to center your nights around this team again. Even without Derrick.

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