Despite last two losses, Bulls in decent shape after tough stretch

David Banks

While the Bulls have looked bad in two consecutive games, they finished off a really tough stretch 5-4 and now have three easier games before facing the Heat next Friday.

The way the Bulls have been playing recently, I'd say it was a pretty good thing that the game against the Pacers was cancelled last night. The Bulls have looked downright horrible in their two latest losses against the Hawks and Rockets, with the game against Houston on Christmas being exceptionally awful. It's one thing to lose, but quite another to simply get beat up and down the court time and time again. And the pick-and-roll defense was as bad as I've ever seen in the Thibodeau era. Throw in the fact that Luol Deng is dealing with injuries to seemingly half his body, and yeah, this postponement is probably a blessing.

Perhaps we shouldn't be all too surprised with the Bulls' performances these past couple of outings, because they marked the tail end of a rough nine-game stretch against teams that were all above .500 at the time of the game. Heading into that brutal stretch, I would have been pretty pleased if the Bulls managed to get three or four wins. The Bulls actually did one better, going 5-4 over the nine games despite the minutes and injuries piling up. Two of those five wins were impressive victories over the Knicks, who have not done much losing this season. The Bulls still can't beat good Western Conference teams, but they have managed to look competent against most Eastern Conference teams so far this year.

The Bulls will now get a couple of days off before entering an "easy" three-game stretch before their first showdown with the Heat next Friday. The Bulls play the woeful Wizards on Saturday before taking on the stumbling Bobcats (have lost 16 in a row) on New Year's Eve and the Magic on Jan. 2. While the Magic have been much better than expected this year, there's little reason (perhaps outside of even more injuries) that the Bulls can't head into Miami with an 18-12 record. Also, Richard Hamilton should be back to build up that trade value!

So while things have certainly looked dire the past few games, the Bulls are still in pretty decent shape for the time being, as long as Deng is okay of course. Losing him or Joakim Noah for any length of time would be a disaster, so hopefully Lu can use these few days to heal up and get back to form after struggling with the injuries against the Hawks and Rockets.

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