The Chicago Bulls are the closest they’ve been to being fully healthy since early in the season. Patrick Williams’s return to the lineup on Monday night was a welcome sight for that has been riddled with injuries for much of the season.
The Bulls started to get healthier a little over a week ago when Alex Caruso made his return to the lineup. Caruso even started in Monday night’s 113-99 win over the Toronto Raptors.
The Bulls getting healthy has started to pay dividends on the defensive end as the team had one of their best defensive performances in a while on Monday. The Bulls were able to force 14 turnovers and get 29 points off of those turnovers.
In his first game back on Monday night, Williams came off the bench and provided the Bulls with some good minutes. In 19 minutes he scored 7 points on 3-8 shooting and grabbed 2 rebounds.
While those numbers aren’t eye-popping, he provided the Bulls with some physicality that they’ve been missing. Williams also was aggressive in taking the right shots and knocked down his first three as well.
Head coach Billy Donovan seemed pretty encouraged with the way Williams played in his return.
“I actually thought he looked really good,” said Donovan, “I thought he had a couple of great moves on the baseline, you know he got to the rim. He knocked down a three, which was fine, but I thought he moved very well. That was my biggest thing I didn’t know how he would look moving in an NBA game. He was moving really well with the G-League thing, but you start talking about guarding different kinds of players up here and I thought he looked really really good.”
“I think the hardest thing for a young player is when do I shoot? and when do I pass?, that’s the hardest thing and I think he read situations really well tonight. He took his pullup when it was there, took the corner three when it was there, got a chance to rip through and finish that drive there. That’s what you really want to do, that’s the learning curve for a young player.”
Williams said after the game that he felt good after his return. He also knows what he needs to bring the Bulls in his return.
“For me, I think just bring energy,” said Williams, “these guys have had a long long season and I’ve been out most of the season, so first things first I think the first step was just getting back on the court and we took care of that so now just seeing which ways that I can bring energy.”
Rest of the Season
The Bulls are currently 42-29 and sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. They are currently two games behind the Celtics for fourth place and are a game and a half ahead of the Cavaliers. Monday’s win over the Raptors was big because it puts the Bulls two and a half games ahead of them in seventh place.
While the Bulls would obviously like to get a playoff series at home, they certainly want to avoid the play-in games. With 11 games left in the season, the team still has a difficult road ahead.
According to tankathon.com, the Bulls have the seventh toughest remaining schedule as their upcoming opponents have a combined winning percentage of 53.9%. The remaining schedule features two games with the Bucks as well as games with the Heat, Celtics, and Cavaliers.
While the schedule is daunting, there is some good news for the Bulls. The Celtics, who the Bulls are chasing, have the toughest remaining schedule in the league.