It’s pretty unusual for a team to have a game where it scores 72 points in a half and shoots 55.6% from behind the arc, wins by 33 after leading by 47 and declines precipitously in offensive metrics from its previous outing. Yet, that’s what has happened to the Chicago Bulls. Their auspicious 125.3 Offensive Rating (points scored per 100 possessions) in Tuesday’s nights 114-81 thrashing of the Atlanta Hawks pales against their 141.9 rating the previous night in a 132-92 rout of the Sacramento Kings.
I didn’t see the Sacramento game but 141.9 is about as close to a layup line as you can get. The Bulls rating against Atlanta slipped as Chicago’s reserves shot 3-15 in the fourth quarter. They were leaving so many shots short that I had to conclude that they were tired; on consecutive nights the second unit got major minutes in a blowout! That doesn’t happen too often.
The bigger point is that the Bulls now rank 12th in Offensive Rating, burnishing their championship credentials that much further. The Bulls rank first in Defensive Efficiency, but their middling offense, Derrick Rose notwithstanding, was the lone substandard document in their portfolio. A few more games like this and they’ll be top ten. It’s another mark in the Bulls progress. At the start of the season the Bulls narrative arc was of a fringe playoff team moving into the championship conversation. They finished that task before the all star break. Now, the arc is moving from the center of the conversation to the conclusion of it, and with their continued offensive improvement, they Bulls are methodically and effectively stating their case.