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The Chicago Bulls streak one way or the other, and lineups may be the reason

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The season thus far is composed of a lot of winning and losing streaks mixed in together.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Many of the Bulls' players have struggled with consistency, and that is also true of the team in general.

Very Streaky Team

Here is basketball-reference's game results tracking visualization of the Bulls' season thus far. Green line is a win, red line is a loss, and the length of the line is how big the point difference was:

It's not updated for last night's loss yet, but you can see that the Bulls have been incredibly streaky. They've had three 3 game losing streaks, two 4 game winning streaks, and a 6 game winning streak all in the span of only 37 games.

It's been a rollercoaster season for the team, alternating between looking like a team on the cusp of both contending and using this year as a transition for the future.

Are The Bulls Winning Games With Offense or Defense?

The Bulls have been a bipolar team not only in their winning and losing streaks, but in the method in which they play as well. They have played 37 games so far; If we break that up into two chunks, here's what the team's rankings look like:

Gms 1-18 Gms 19-37
25th ranked offense 11th ranked offense
4th ranked defense 10th ranked defense
11-7 record 11-8 record

The team has kept almost the same record, but in completely different ways. In the first half of this season's games, the Bulls were horrendous offensively but had an amazing defense that kept them in games. More recently, the defense has started to slip off (and it's REALLY slipping in the past few games). However, the team still finds ways to win because the offense is much improved.

Hoiberg's Lineups

The dramatic changes in the team's play is not surprising. The lineups that Hoiberg has been using have been changing a ton. In those first 18 games, Hoiberg kept up on his promise not to play his big guys insane minutes. Gasol played 29 MPG and Butler was at 37 MPG. In the last 19 games though, Gasol is up to 34 MPG (albeit he did get one rest day) and Butler back up to 39 MPG and is leading the league in that stat.

The shift is even more dramatic for role players. E'Twaun Moore started out the season alternating with Aaron Brooks as the first guard off the bench. Moore averaged 17 MPG in the first half of the season and played in every game. He's received 10 DNPs in the last 19 games and his minutes are down to 10 MPG in the rare events that he does play.

Brooks, Hinrich, and Snell have also received random DNPs sprinkled throughout the season. Doug McDermott has seen a 3 minute drop in playing time from the first 18 games to the last 19 games. Bobby Portis went from sitting on the bench to playing huge minutes to back on the bench again. Nikola Mirotic went from starting to benched to starting again as well.

There is no semblance of roster continuity, and this is on purpose. Hoiberg has stated that he is going to change the lineups based on matchups and he's still looking for those perfect combinations. That's not a criticism on Hoiberg - flexibility isn't a bad thing, and he clearly needs to find something that works better than what's going on now. But it does account for why the product the Bulls are putting out isn't consistent.