Jimmy Butler was great for the Bulls tonight. Although Chicago lost 94-90 to the Detroit Pistons and saw their playoff hopes take a massive hit, Butler showed up on the offensive end, providing a triple double as he scored 28 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, and dished out 12 assists. Sometimes it felt like Butler was the only player on the court for Chicago, at times looking like he could single-handedly bring them back into the playoff race. But sadly, the Bulls 4th quarter offense failed them again.
Bulls were 2nd in Net Rating in the 4th quarter last year. 25th this year. #Hoiball— Stephen Noh (@hungarianjordan) April 3, 2016
The Bulls offense just shuts down in the 4th quarter, something that has been well documented this season. Even though Fred Hoiberg was supposed to make this offense better than the one Tom Thibodeau ran, Hoiberg's offense has turned out to be worse.
With around five minute left to go in the game, Chicago's offense became stagnant as a number of opportunities were handed to them to take the game. Hoiberg decided to run a "small ball" lineup of E'Twaun Moore, Jimmy Butler, Justin Holiday, Mike Dunleavy, and Pau Gasol. Butler and Gasol decided to take over the offense by themselves by running a pick and roll each time down the court. It makes sense to have your two best offensive players work together to bring your team back, but it didn't always provide scoring. There are some reasons as to why this happened.
First reason being the shot selection by Butler. Butler's strength is going to the basket and it always will be. He has worked really hard on his jumpshot since joining the league, but you would rather see Butler drive to the basket than shoot a three. But unfortunately Butler took two 3s in the final minutes of the game including one when the Bulls had time to get a quick two. This loss isn't certainly not all on Butler, but would have loved to see him drive to the basket, like this:
The second reason for poor late-game offense is the missed shots by Dunleavy, Moore, and Gasol. With the exception of Dunleavy's attempt (which was not a smart shot), the two others were open looks and they should have been knocked down: Moore missed a open three which was surprising considering he's been shooting 46% from deep. Gasol's was a mid-range jumper off a pick and roll, a shot we all have seen him knock down numerous times in the past.
Jimmy Butler played his heart out and had a historic game, but regrettably, he couldn't bring the Bulls to victory due to a combination of his shot selection and the other Bulls' inability to hit open shots.
Two other takeaways
2. Another good game from Cristiano Felicio
Another game and another good shift by Cristiano Felicio. He may not be a stat-sheet stuffer, but his impact on the defensive end has proven to be valuable to the Bulls. He was Chicago's best post defender on the court tonight and has proven that he can hold his own there. He is not a starter by any means, but the Bulls could have found a solid, low-cost backup center in Felicio.
3. Pistons could be a tough out in the playoffs
NOW I consider the Pistons to be a PROBLEM.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) February 16, 2016
A lot of the credit should be given to Detroit for this win, who came in and showed up when it counted. Granted, they don't know how to hit their free throws and hack-a-Drummond will be a problem for them, but Detroit will be fun to watch in the playoffs. They have a good young core, and seeing players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope step up should give them some confidence heading into the postseason. I'm not saying they are going to challenge the Cavs in any way in a first round matchup, but they could beat Toronto, who as the 7th seed they are currently projected to face. Anything can happen.