Monday, March 28, 2005

Kirk Who-rich?

(Ugh, I apologize, but that title was so lame I laughed when it popped into my head. So there you go.)

Well the Bulls tried their darndest to pull off an Arizona (can we call it that after Saturday?), but held off the Memphis Grizzlies for a 94-86 win, their 6th in a row. In a month that was looked upon hesitantly, and started out a bit iffy, this win streak has firmly placed the Bulls in the playoffs, now thinking about taking the division moreso than the lottery.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this streak is that 4 of the wins were without Kirk Hinrich, still out with an injured hamstring. The fact that Hinrich's absence didn't hurt the Bulls in this stretch of games is a testament to those that gained minutes in his absence:

Duhon Points Reb Ast TO
Last 4 5 2.5 6 1.75
 2004 Year to Date 5.5 2.7 5 1.6
Gordon Points Reb Ast TO
Last 4 15.5 2.5 2.25 1.5
 2004 Year to Date 14.9 2.6 1.8 2.3
Piatkowski Points Reb Ast TO
Last 4 3 1 1.25 0.75
 2004 Year to Date 4.4 1.1 0.7 0.5
Pargo Points Reb Ast TO
Last 4 6.75 2 4 1.75
2004 Year to Date 4.3 1.3 1.9 1

This improvement in play (and with more minutes mind you) is not very substantial, but the fact that the loss of Hinrich's outstanding defense hasn't hurt them in the win column is enough to give these guys credit.

But where are the points to make up for Hinrich's absence coming from?

Curry Points Reb Ast TO
Last 4 21 5 0.5 1.5
 2004 Year to Date 15.9 5.4 0.6 2.6

Eddy Curry has really turned up his play, and while his rebounding still is poor, his scoring has helped offset the loss of Kirk. And not only that, just looking at him attack the basket the way he has is a very encouraging sign. We all know Curry's motivation could be contract-driven this season, but you have to think the scent of the playoffs getting stronger has encouraged him to be even more aggressive on the offensive end. If you looked at him playing against the Griz' Stromile Swift tonight, while both are looking for contracts (and playoffs) you could tell that Curry seemed to be playing for more. Knowing how 'Eddy Curry' and 'motivated' have gone together in his career makes his play something I'm looking forward to see continue down the stretch. In fact, if you look at how the Bulls performed without Hinrich and compare that to how they do without Curry (perhaps a study for another day), I'd say off-hand that the Bulls need Curry more to win.

On the flip side of that optimistic coin, Luol Deng suffered a wrist injury tonight (not sure on the prognosis), and while the team has stepped up to stay in (and even better themselves in) the playoff picture through the recent injuries, it'd be nice to get healthy for the end of the season.