Bulls

Bulls: Butler returning; Rose, Noah to have restrictions lessened

3-24-jimmy-butler-bulls.png

Bulls: Butler returning; Rose, Noah to have restrictions lessened

The Bulls have been pleased with what they’ve seen from Derrick Rose so far, so his playing time will be increased beyond the 20-minute mark that’s been set for his first two games.

And Rose will be available to play in the fourth quarter of tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, if need be. With Jimmy Butler returning from a one-game absence (left calf), this will be the 21st game the starting five will play together this season.

“We’re going to add another segment to it, so we’ll see how it unfolds,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He handled the first two (games), which was good. So we’re going to go from there.”

[MORE BULLS: 3rd parties exploring potential landing spots for Thibodeau?]

The numbers aren’t eye-popping, as Rose has shot eight for 24 in back-to-back games against Orlando and Miami, and turned the ball over seven times in 39 minutes of play.

But Thibodeau has been pleased about the way Rose has gone about matters, the improvement from game to game in the way he’s gotten himself more comfortable. During Thursday’s game in Miami, he got to the basket more and started shooting his mid-range jumper as opposed to settling for 3-point attempts, as six of his nine shots Wednesday came from behind the long line.

“We’ve talked about that before,” Thibodeau said. “We try to back it up more toward when he was playing well right before the All-Star break. And I thought that was the whole key to him getting into a good rhythm again, was he went back to some of the mid-range shots.

“To me, that was his strength coming into the league. So I think what that does is it gives him good rhythm.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Buy a Jimmy Butler jersey here]

A statement from Thibodeau indicates the controversy surrounding minute limits from Rose and Joakim Noah will become a thing of the past when the playoffs begin a week from now.

“We’re at the point now, the minutes thing, I don’t want to get wrapped up into,” Thibodeau said. “I want it to be about performance. If he’s playing well and he’s showing that the minutes are good, then he’ll play more.

“But I don’t want him out there fatigued or anything like that. But you got to play well. That’s the important thing right now. I think he’ll be fine. I think Jo will be fine. I think we’re good with the minutes stuff.”

Noah had been quietly frustrated with the 32-minute limit placed on him, which often left him on the sidelines during the final half of fourth quarters, but he will be freed from those shackles.

Thibodeau, the front office and the training staff apparently met about Noah’s status as well recently.

“We spoke about it. And coach will be able to do what he wants,” Noah said.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

2-22_76ers_matchup_nba_chi_tonight.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

0109_zach_lavine_bulls.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Hub Arkush (ProFootball Weekly) and Jason Goch (SB Nation) join Kap on the panel.

The guys debate which team will finish with a higher draft pick when the season ends: Bulls or Blackhawks?

Plus, hear their reaction to the MLB’s new pace-of-play rule change.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: