This is kind of an important test tonight. The Bulls have been playing quite poorly lately, but it remains to be seen if that's just a part-of-82-games blip or if they're really in long rut heading into a pretty tough portion of the schedule.
Because they have a lot of interesting circumstances for tonight's game against the Wizards:
- Thibs was angry after Monday's loss to Orlando. While we can't be sure if the message got totally across, given this humorous response from Joakim Noah, the coach and team all seem back on track after a Tuesday practice.
- If the problem really is an issue of not being 'up' for some teams, that shouldn't be an issue here. The Wiz are a definite rival after a contentious playoff series, splitting the season's matchups thus far including a bad loss just last week. John Wall threw a Rose celebration back in his face. Nene still exists. They've won 5 straight at the United Center. There should be motivation.
- The Wiz played last night, with an impressive win over the Spurs.
So we could be seeing a very telling 3-game stretch ahead where the Bulls get some big wins over these Wizards and the conference-leading Hawks and all will be right again in Bulls-land. It wasn't that long ago where the Bulls were on a big winning streak and playing the best ball in the entire league.
The change in that time probably should be considered more than it has been. Mike Dunleavy is still out, and word today is that he's not even running yet without pain. The injury itself seemed weird at the time, and all we've heard since is the usual sketchy Bulls-sourced prognoses, but Dunleavy's own admission means it may be a while still.
All else seems merely ok from the injury standpoint. Taj Gibson sure was flexing his wrist a lot yesterday, but isn't missing time. Joakim Noah is the obviously bigger question, as though he insists he's not experienced a setback and is still just working his way back post-surgery (and maybe a meniscus tear?, the result on the floor just hasn't looked good lately. More minutes from the bench bigs could be a temporary solution, but ultimately the Bulls need Noah to be better.
The Wizards have no injuries, what the hell...
This is a national TV game tonight, ESPN at 7pm, which means you only have yourselves to blame if you listen to Neil and Stacey.