Bulls

Bulls optimistic about Dwyane Wade's progress 

Bulls optimistic about Dwyane Wade's progress 

Dwyane Wade was in full lather after the morning shootaround at Madison Square Garden, as optimism increases that he'll be back for the Bulls this season after suffering a right elbow injury a couple weeks ago.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg declined to say whether he feels Wade will be back before the end of the regular season and Wade declined comment altogether, but with the increased intensity of Wade's workouts suggests there's a light at the end of the tunnel — be it a probable playoff showing or sometime sooner.

"It's a day by day thing with Dwyane now," Hoiberg said. "He's feeling better but obviously there's a lot of work to do as far as getting his strength back."

Wade went through his first workout before the Bulls played Cleveland last Thursday at the United Center, and he still isn't cleared for contact so there's still more hurdles to clear before one can realistically expect Wade to get back on the floor.

"He has a little pain in that elbow when he's done working out," Hoiberg said. "But the important thing is he's making progress and hopefully he'll continue to take steps in the right direction and we'll get him back at some point in the season."

The fact the Bulls are going for five straight wins and playing better basketball all around belies the fact they are a better team when Wade is playing — one can just assume the Bulls can find a way to blend this new identity with a guy who can score 25 on a given night.

Especially someone who can alleviate the pressure from Jimmy Butler, the Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

"That's what great players, hall of fame players do," Butler said. "They pick up where they left off. I know he's gonna do that. I'm constantly in his ear, he's constantly in mine about what he sees, what I see. It's different when you're not playing and you're watching. There's a lot of things we can be better at."

Butler suffered the same injury in the 2014-15 season and missed a month, so he knows Wade will have to go through the mental test of getting bumped on the elbow again through regular contact and not worrying about it.

"We definitely need that guy, as everybody knows," Butler said. "We want him to come back where he's not protecting anything, he's hooping and playing 110 percent."

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

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AP

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.

It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.

The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.

James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.

Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.

It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.

That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.