In a matter of just a few days, the Chicago Bulls have gone from the 9th seed all the way up to the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference.
Call it a weak conference. Call it a mirage. Call it whatever you want, but the Bulls are on a roll and looking to solidify themselves as an Eastern Conference playoff team.
Winners in six of their last seven games, the Bulls pulled out a nail-biter in overtime against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
The Bulls held a 10-point lead with under five minutes to go, and somehow managed to allow the Wolves back into it. With a 3-point lead and 4.9 seconds left, Ricky Rubio was fouled on a three-pointer by Coby White. Rubio knocked in all three free throws to send it to overtime.
But, in overtime, the Bulls closed things out emphatically, winning 133-126. After the game, fans looked up at the standings with a smile on their faces.
It has been a long time since the city of Chicago felt this good about a Bulls team. Quite frankly, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. It’s become somewhat tradition each New Year to begin looking at what the Bulls will do around the trade deadline and just how big of a seller they will be.
The offseason has always started early for Bulls fans, at least since the glory days of Derrick Rose.
Almost halfway into the season, it feels like a dream to see the Bulls currently occupying the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. From here on out, fans are going to be watching other Eastern Conference contenders in angst. Now, it means more to root against teams like the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors.
Everything means more at this point, and here’s the crazy part: the Bulls aren’t even healthy yet.
Chicago has seen some incredible play out of forward Thaddeus Young while Lauri Markkanen has been injured. Otto Porter is still out of the lineup as well, which has given Patrick Williams ample time to play alongside Young.
The rookie has been thrown into the fire, but he’s played as well as anyone could have asked for. Williams is doing exactly what he was known for as a draft prospect: everything. He’s learning on the fly, but proven he can play defense and rebound at an NBA level. He puts in the hard work and does the little things.
Meanwhile, Young is doing the exact same thing, only at one of the highest levels he’s played over his 15-year career.
Of course, it all begins and ends with All Star Zach LaVine, who is having a career year in every major category.
The Bulls are only getting started, and at this point, the sky is the limit. This is a team who has hardly scratched the surface under Donovan. Fans should continue to sit back and simply enjoy this ride.