The Chicago Bulls are slowly gaining on the Cleveland Cavaliers in getting the top spot in the Eastern Conference this NBA season. Following a disappointingly slow start for the Derrick Rose squad, their recent games now show their potential to topple the LeBron James team. If Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah continue with this streak, they might even land a chance to displace Stephen Curry's Golden State Warriors as the NBA champions.
"When we look at tape from where we were earlier in the season to where we are now it's night-and-day difference from getting that ball swung," disclosed Fred Hoiberg via ESPN. The Chicago Bulls head coach added, "We had so many possessions where we got the ball on the same side. We didn't make the defense move; they were able to load on the ball. So that's where it started, if we can get that defense shifted, get two-man games with two or three of our best players out there, generally good things happen. It's pretty simple stuff. The big thing is not having the ball stick in our guys' hands."
The change presumably came following the Chicago Bulls' devastating loss to the Detroit Pistons. The Rose squad also incurred another loss in the hands of Carmelo Anthony's New York Knicks. With consecutive losses from perceived weaker basketball teams, the Chicago Bulls were relegated as one of the hopeless groups this season. However, things started to turn when Butler called out his teammates and the coaching staff. In his interviews, the All-Star blatantly pointed out that his team lack the aggressiveness and determination to win.
In fact, Butler also placed some of the blame for their losses on himself. Since then, the Chicago Bulls star attacked the hardwood court with heightened aggressiveness and stamina. With his renewed vigor, the rest of the NBA team followed suit.
"He's played at an incredibly high level, there's no question about it," said Gasol of Butler following a win over the Boston Celtics. He added, "Being very aggressive and very sharp. It was great to see the last couple games, just outstanding. I'm happy for him, obviously, when you have a guy that has it going that way, then the defense has to make adjustments and other guys get open shots and easier shots. So it's great also that he recognizes when to shoot and when to pass, which is one of the hardest decisions in this game."
Even Rose, who had been the leader of the Chicago Bulls for years, agreed that Butler's performance deserve commendation. To date, the Noah squad have exhibited phenomenal performances in their games against the likes of Kyle Lowry's Toronto Raptors and Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder. The Chicago Bulls also redeemed themselves when they beat Kristaps Porzingis' New York Knicks on January 2.
Although Hoiberg praised Butler's renewed vigor in court, the head coach noted that the Chicago Bulls are still at their best when Rose is with them. He said of Butler and Rose via Chicago Sun Times, "We're at our best when those two guys play off of each other."