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Bulls Fri Jan 04 2013

Has Gibson Rebounded His Confidence?

Bulls_200.pngThe flu we've all alley-ooped to each other has made its way to the immune system of Joakim Noah, which forced him to sit out Wednesday night's 98-96 win over the Orlando Magic. Either Noah hasn't coughed on Taj Gibson yet, or Gibson hasn't procrastinated like most of us and actually got his flu shots from Walgreens, because he played a very healthy game versus the Magic.

This performance was just another entry in a series of "next man up" games where a Bull gets injured and the next man steps up and plays his reserved heart out. Gibson who's been struggling all season long, needed a breakout game like the one he played on Wednesday. The power forward racked up 21 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in a Noah-esque 45 minutes of action. Not to mention (although I am) Gibson blocked Jameer Nelson's would be game-tying lay-up to secure the win for the Bulls.

Gibson may have gotten his groove back. Basketball statistical hub 82games has yet to establish an advance stat for swagger, but perhaps swag-stats-man of the year, and former Chicagoan, Nate Silver could commence calculating one. Swagger (in the on-court sense), is a subjective term bounce-passed by everyone in the professional basketball bubble and as it seems ironically trivial (just ask Metta World Peace), it's utterly vital for the mental health of an NBA player. You have to believe in yourself before anyone else will be believe in you. We've seen Gibson perform at a high defensive level in the past so believing him isn't as far-fetched as believing that Nazr Mohammed was going to be an adequate replacement for last years back-up center Omer Asik.

Alright, not to derail this "Yay, Taj is back y'all!" train I've shoveling coal into, but in the game against Orlando, Gibson played double the minutes of his season average and he basically just doubled his season averages of blocks, rebounds and tripled the amount of his points.

Now Gibson isn't going to play 40-plus minutes a night, unless Noah flu keeps him under the weather for the remainder of the season, so he needs to condense this great game into the 20 minutes he normally averages. Gibson has been a reserve throughout his entire career, but now he's making starters money. It's hard to get excited about one game where he filled in versus a Magic team with a front court that's as thin as it is inexperienced, but the Bulls can now rest assured that if Noah or Carlos Boozer goes down for a short length of time, perhaps Gibson would be ready. We all wish there was a larger sample size to go off of to be convinced that the Gibson slump is over, but all we have is this one game, and as I said of these NBA players, they just need one game to mentally get them going.

Bulls vs Heat

It's that time of year where the Chicago Bulls and their fan base treat a regular season game against the Miami Heat like it's a game seven of the NBA Finals, and where the Miami Heat treat a regular season game against the Chicago Bulls like it's just another regular season game. (The opposite of) Breaking News: the Miami Heat have an on/off switch for when they want to play at the top of their ability. They're so talented, they're having the antithesis of the Bulls season; all their wins are effortless and their losses just lacked effort. The Bulls so far this campaign have been a tale of every win being an exhausting total team effort and each loss an exhausting total team effort. Tonight against the Heat the Bulls will show up. As I'm sure you are, at least I'm glad I'm rooting for try-hard David and not the indifferent Goliath. With recent ugly losses versus less threatening competition like Charlotte, Houston, and Atlanta, the Bulls have hit the funk-slump that every team goes through in a season. Time to move on.

To bring it all around, if the Bulls beat the Heat, it's a great morale boost, and Twitter feeds everywhere wifi is available will boast about how when Derrick Rose returns the Bulls can be the Eastern Conference Champions. If they lose to the Heat, they're supposed to lose to them without Rose. It's a win-win scenario for fans. The only way I see the Bulls winning tonight is if we all get some repeat-GIF performances like this from Gibson, and it still might not be enough (since Rose is out). So see? Win-win.

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