The Chicago Bulls have had a remarkable postseason, slipping past the Brooklyn Nets in the first round and later stealing Game 1 against the Miami Heat.
A few players have come up big for the Bulls, playing a major role in the team’s success.
It’s crazy to think the Bulls could have won any games during the playoffs with so many key players having missed time. Derrick Rose hasn’t played in over a year, while starters Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich have both missed at least five postseason games.
Here’s a trio of rotation guys who’ve played brilliantly for the Bulls thus far. We’re talking about rotation players, so that eliminates the likes of Malcolm Thomas, Richard Hamilton and Vladimir Radmanovic.
Sorry Vlad Rad fans.
Back in December, there was talk about the Bulls waiving Nate Robinson. It’s a good thing that transaction never took place, though, as he serves as the team’s most dangerous scoring threat.
The 5’9” guard is leading Chicago in scoring this postseason with 17.4 points per game.
Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, Robinson has been absolutely unstoppable at times. He dropped 20 in Game 5 of the Brooklyn series, 18 the following contest and 27 during the opening game versus Miami.
His most memorable performance, of course, came in Game 4 against the Nets, as Chicago picked up a crazy triple-overtime victory after trailing by 14 points late in the game. Robinson scored 34 points, including 23 in the fourth quarter, one shy of Michael Jordan’s franchise postseason record for most points in a quarter.
Following the game, little Nate made it clear he was on fire (via ESPN Chicago).
I always think I'm on fire, kind of like the old school game NBA Jam. You make a couple in a row, the rim's on fire. You shoot the ball, the ball's on fire. I feel like that at times—all the time. Whenever I'm in the game, I just play with a lot of confidence. You kind of have to lie to yourself and feel like you can't miss.
Robinson is currently playing for the veteran’s minimum. However, it’s a guarantee that he’ll receive a much more expensive contract this summer.
Joakim Noah guaranteed the Bulls would Game 7 against the Nets (via ESPN New York).
I'm proud of this team, and we're going to go into a hostile environment in Brooklyn and we're going.
Noah’s prediction would come to fruition, as he put up a historic stat line—24 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks while shooting 70 percent from the field. Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal is the only other player in NBA history to reach those stats in a playoff game.
Noah is the first player to record at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in a Game 7 win since Kevin Garnett back in 2004. Elvin Hayes, Patrick Ewing and Dikembe Mutombo are the only other players to get that many blocked-shots in a Game 7 since blocks became an official statistic in 1973-74.
That’s pretty good company.
And it’s unbelievable that Noah accomplished such a feat, given that he's playing with very painful plantar fasciitis.
Noah is averaging 12 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. His contributions on both ends of the floor as well as his emotional leadership are major reasons the Bulls are still in the playoffs.
You can’t have a Bulls “Come up Huge” article without the name Jimmy Butler. It just wouldn’t be right.
After rarely getting on the court last season as a rookie, Butler has blossomed into a major contributor this season, especially during the playoffs.
The Marquette product played lockdown defense in Game 7 against the Nets backcourt duo of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Williams went 4-of-11 from the field while Johnson missed all five of his attempts, when matched up against Butler.
Butler was one of the main reasons for the Bulls’ stunning Game 1 win at Miami. He scored 21 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and dished out three assists as he played all 48 minutes.
Butler didn’t exactly shut down LeBron James, who scored 24 points for the Heat. However, he made the four-time MVP work for every bucket.
Butler is averaging 12.9 points and 5.2 rebounds in the playoffs thus far.