Injuries happen in sports and the Chicago Bulls are dealing with them at the worst possible time. Derrick Rose is out after surgery, Taj Gibson is out with a sprained ankle and now Jimmy Butler will be out 3-6 weeks after suffering a sprained left elbow against the Clippers.
Jimmy Butler has been the Bulls best player all season. He is having a career year across the board. After struggling with his shot last season shooting 39%, Butler bounced back this season and is shooting 46% while averaging 20 ppg and 5.9 rpg. He became an All-Star for the first time this season.
Butler was the workhorse for the Bulls. He leads the league in minutes played at 38.9 per game. The good news for the Bulls is that Butler will not require surgery to repair the injury.
Without Butler the Bulls fell to the Clippers at home but Nikola Mirotic scored a career high 29 points. With these three guys out the Bulls lose 49.2 points per game. They have been much better this season on the offensive end but their defense has suffered. They are now without their best wing defender.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said, “No one’s going to feel sorry for us. We just got to get out there and we got to get it done.” It looks like rookie Doug McDermott will see some more time. He’s been limited to only 24 games this season. When he played in the beginning of the season he didn’t shoot the ball well from long range.
With all these injuries will the Bulls slip in the standings? They are tied with the Raptors and Cavaliers with 37 wins. The Wizards have played horrible lately but they still have 34 wins. The Bulls are in third place but they can easily drop to the fifth or sixth seed in a couple of weeks.
They have a tough schedule coming up with games against the Wizards, Thunder, a Pacers team that is playing well, Spurs and Grizzlies. They go on the road to take on the Sixers and Hornets before taking on the Thunder, Pacers and Raptors.
Thibodeau will have them ready to play and grind out victories like they did in previous seasons but this is a tough 10 game stretch for the Bulls.
The Bulls will need Joakim Noah to continue his solid play. He’s averaging 7.8 ppg, 12.4 rpg and 6.4 apg in his past five games. Noah does a lot for this team with Derrick Rose. His defensive energy will be key during this stretch without Butler and Rose.