In the 4th quarter during a closely contested game, the Chicago Bulls offense began to sputter and it looked at the moment that it opened the door for their opponents, the Miami Heat, to steal the game. But Jimmy Butler quickly slammed that door shut by taking over offensively when Chicago needed him the most.
Butler scored the last eight points for Chicago, starting with a jumper with less than five minutes to go and closed the game out with some clutch free throw shooting. His strength on offense is getting to the rim, where he is shooting 59%, and either scoring or getting fouled. He played to those strengths, especially in the clip below when he drives to the hoop, scores plus the foul.
Here Butler is able to get past his defender in Josh Richardson, get into the lane and finish between the duo of Hassan Whiteside and Derrick Williams. It was a pretty impressive finish considering that Whiteside is one of the best rim protectors in the NBA (only allowed 46.9% FG percentage at the rim via Nylon Calculus) and Williams was right there as well. In addition to the and-one that gave Chicago a 100-96 lead with 3:58 left, Butler got to the line a career-high 16 times, making 15 of them. This season, Butler is shooting an average of 9.7 free-throw attempts per game It’s a career high for him as well and although some regression can be expected in terms of shooting almost 10 free throws game, expect Butler to continue around the 7-8 FTA’s per game, something he has averaged his past two seasons. His ability to draw fouls at the rim and shoot free throws really helped out the Bulls late in the game.
Big night from Dwyane Wade
Jimmy Butler wasn’t the only Bulls player to have a big night offensively. Dwyane Wade did as well. He scored 28 points on 11-24 shooting and went to the line 7 times. Like Butler, Wade’s most efficient way of scoring is getting to the basket and around the rim. He did just that against Miami, showing the “vintage Wade” we have seen a lot of this season. Wade was Chicago’s offense for the first three quarters as he went isolation many times and also he used his post-up skills to win the battle against Miami’s defense. Wade also showed that he can still get up to the rim and displayed some of the athleticism that has wowed us for years, including his eurostep between two Heat defenders that led to this nasty dunk :
Chicago’s offense at this point is basically either Dwyane Wade taking over or Jimmy Butler having a monster game, they got the best of both against Miami. It seems at this point that it will take monster efforts nightly from both if Chicago wants to make some noise in the East come playoff time.
Three-point shooting nowhere to be found
The only down part of the win was the Bulls three-point shooting. Chicago only made one 3-point shot against Miami and it made it even more impressive that they scored 105 points shooting like that from deep. Nikola Mirotic was the only Bull to hit a shot from outside and he was one of four Bulls to even attempt a three (Rondo, Wade, McDermott attempted three’s as well). It is something that Chicago has to do better, especially given the return of McDermott. He has to take more than two 3-point shots in a game. It also didn’t help Chicago’s three-point shooting that Isaiah Canaan received a DNP-CD from Fred Hoiberg.