It’d be some kind of karmic justice if the Bulls best-laid plans (that they didn’t really plan for as they’re too dumb to adequately plan) of being terrible is ‘ruined’ by Nikola Mirotic, who’s always been pretty good if mostly misused. In his 3 games back from being face-breaked, Mirotic has played very well in each one, including tonight’s 108-85 win over the Boston Celtics.
Mirotic started for Lauri Markkanen, who didn’t play due to back spasms, and had a game-high 24 points in 32 minutes on 9-14 shooting. Mirotic played the entire 1st quarter and had 13 points in the opening period.
Niko just cooking right now. Scoring at all 3 levels pic.twitter.com/o6TTbZcfRe— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) December 12, 2017
The Celtics were missing Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris with Al Horford a late addition to the lineup, and with the team playing the night before they really struggled looking for ways to score. Boston had a 1-point lead in the first quarter going 5-10 from three point range...but for the rest of the game they were a paltry 5-30 and couldn’t get anything else going on offense.
The Bulls were paced not only by Mirotic but punchin’ Bobby Portis, who had a career-high 23 points on an unconscious 10-15 shooting including 3-3 from beyond the arc. It’s really a weird rim-protection-optional lineup when Hoiberg puts both out there in the frontcourt...but if they’re both able to shoot like this and make plays from the outside it works. Portis has shot very well this season, and I wonder how many good games it’ll take before he’s taken seriously. I ask because personally, for me, it’ll be around another 100 games and maybe not even then, but I’m curious what others think!
David Nwaba kept up his stellar play since his own return with 13 points in 27 minutes helped by going 7-8 from the line. He and Niko’s return have really made this team look downright respectable again, and though it was an obviously depleted Celtics team (look forward to seeing them fall apart in the playoffs, especially if they play the Bulls?!?!?) this was an opponent that the Bulls were so bad to this point they weren’t even on that level. Now they look at least ready to beat some fellow bad teams, and the Jazz coming in with their own injury issues Wednesday may present another opportunity.