The Bulls have won 8 (!) straight games, a truly incredible feat considering how disjointed the schedule had been in these past few weeks. In a certain perspective it’s somewhat arbitrary, as the Bulls could’ve extremely easily lost a couple of those games.
DeRozan hit shots on consecutive days with a win probability "swing" factor of 0.96 and 0.94 (in effect, all or nothing shots).— Mike Beuoy (@inpredict) January 2, 2022
In my 27 year database, no one has come close to that on a back to back.
Closest comparable example: Kobe in 2009, on 1/13 and 1/14 (0.53 and 0.60). https://t.co/zpoj6lWNcT
But massive credit deserved for the Bulls for not ever packing it in and staying in games to facilitate these game-winners. Lots of teams - some even as good as the Bulls, there aren’t many! - have off nights and lose to teams they shouldn’t lose to. But not the Bulls.
That continued in their win over the Magic, where they were 14 point favorites but were in a tight game down the stretch. It’s important here to note that though the Bulls had nearly everyone back in their rotation, it was still their sixth game in nine nights. And it showed.
The good news is that the Bulls now have 3 consecutive days off. The bad news is that starting on Friday night’s game hosting the Wizards, the Bulls won’t have 2 days off until...::scans calendar:: ... jeez, not until the All-Star Break?
That’s because those cancelled games in December have now been rescheduled.
The NBA has announced we have five rescheduled games: pic.twitter.com/OgnVAoZ5B6— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 3, 2022
So back to positive thinking: at least all the Bulls look to be out of COVID protocols by Friday. And, in a pretty grim statement, every Bull except Alex Caruso has caught and gone through the virus, so they shouldn’t be going back.
Caruso may (again, grim!) but he’s still out with an old-fashioned basketball injury, as his sprained foot is to be evaluated in the next couple days.
[update: mere hours after this was published, it was announced that indeed Alex Caruso has been placed in protocols. So he will be out for ten days even if his foot injury healed by then]
Elsewhere on the injury front: Javonte Green will be out multiple weeks with a groin/adductor strain. And two-way big man Tyler Cook suffered a badly sprained ankle against the Pacers and will also be out weeks.
Green was the starting power forward, so this news does hurt. But compared to the protocols-ravaged last month this is downright quality availability for the Bulls.
And they’ll need it! Because the rescheduled games means adding three back-to-backs, the first coming next week that unfortunately takes a Detroit matchup and bumps it up against a home showdown against the Nets (and 3 days before hosting the Warriors).
So that takes some sting out of those matchups, as the Bulls will now have some dreaded ‘schedule context’. But really the whole season has that context, this year more than ever. As a result it’s really challenging to figure out how good the Bulls are even at the top of the standings, as there are no ‘measuring stick’ regular season games that can be easily analyzed with a win or loss.
That’ll be a challenge that falls on the front office as they need to do some self-assessment before the February 10th trade deadline. And, like, we’ll try it here in this space as well. It’s not a case where we just throw out the wins and losses because of ‘schedule context’, the Bulls winning so many games and performing well in the face of adversity is certainly useful information. But we really don’t know how good they measure up to the elite, and any certainty in that evaluation will likely be elusive.