by Micah Hart
As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the Chicago Bulls, who played three straight from Jan 9-11.
Well, that was impressive. Oklahoma City set the bar high with their clean sweep of three in a row earlier this week, but the Bulls came along and took it a notch higher, earning the maximum possible points that the schedule would allow.
Game 1: Bulls 92, Pistons 68 – About what you’d expect when one of the best defenses in the league meets up with statistically the worst offense. Every team has an off night now and again, but the Pistons barely put anyone in double-figures, yeesh. 2 points (1 for win, 1 for +10 margin)
Game 2: Bulls 111, Timberwolves 100 – Chicago got out to a big early lead, then held on for dear life in Minnesota for the win. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Derrick Rose, better known as the Bulls’ entire offense, sustained a turf-toe injury (on hardwood???) that could prove meddlesome. Not tonight, but maybe later. 5 points (3 for win, 1 for road, 1 for +10 margin)
Game 3: Bulls 78, Wizards 64 – With Rose out because of the aforementioned toe injury (and backup C.J. Watson still hurting as well), the onus fell on journeyman John Lucas to come to the Bulls’ rescue. Fortunately they were playing the Wizards, and I’m pretty sure Bennie the Bull could have taken over the reigns and led the team to a win. Still, 25-8-8 for Lucas is impressive stuff. 6 points (5 for win, 1 for +10 margin)
Was this the most impressive performance by a team so far? The stats say yes — three double-digit wins in three nights. However, given that the combined record of the three opponents currently stands at 6-24, I suppose we’d be disappointed if Chicago did anything less. Still, the Bulls can do nothing but play the opponents put in front of them, and you gotta tip your cap to the new leaders, who notched 13 total points. The only way they can be topped from here on out is if a team plays two road games and wins all three by double figures, so, yeah, good luck beating Chicago.
Up next: The Philadelphia 76ers also played three straight Jan. 9-11.
Three for all Scoreboard:
— Chicago Bulls (13 points)
— OKC Thunder (12 points)
— Atlanta Hawks (8 points)
— Houston Rockets (7 points)
— Denver Nuggets (6 points)
— L.A. Lakers (3 points)
— Sacramento Kings (2 points)
— Minnesota Timberwolves (2 points)