Our Pledge To You


Jimmy Butler is continuing to make adjustments for short-handed Bulls

It’s not a Bulls game-day morning without of some sort of body count.

The latest two that will be sidelined for tonight’s game against Milwaukee will be Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson, who are each battling a virus.

What that means for a Bulls team that has won five of its last six games is they will again be short-handed, and again need to have some of that so-called depth step up and deliver.

The one player that hasn’t been a problem for as of late? Jimmy Butler, who after a slow January seems to be back to his status as an offensive threat, even with teams game-planning for him on a regular basis now.

“It’s just interesting when you’re watching what has gone on,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said Monday. “You see his isolations are being doubled. His pick and rolls are being doubled. His post ups are being doubled. The thing you can’t overlook is his playmaking. He’s very unselfish and efficient. He’s scoring not taking a lot of shots – his ability to get to the line and run the floor and move without the ball.

“It’s difficult to double-team him in those situations. Open floor, you can’t put two on him. Ball in the post and he cuts, you can’t put two on him. He’s got a really good feel for the game.’’

Butler’s scoring numbers were down throughout January, after what was as good a start as any Bulls player the first two months of the season, but February has shown that he’s starting to once again figure it out. Not only has he been averaging 21 points a game in the month, but has 3.5 assists over the last seven games, while shooting .467 from the field.

“I don’t expect it, but I think the coaches expect it, so they tell me to be prepared for it,’’ Butler said of the extra attention he’s getting from opposing defenses. “I just go out there and try and make the right plays whether I’m double-teamed or not. When I’m open, shoot. When I’m not, pass.’’

A decision-making process that has continued to improve.

“I think it’s gotten better,’’ Butler said. “Obviously this was a big learning curve for me, teams actually preparing for me, which is … I didn’t think that would happen. But I’m learning. I’m getting help from Pau [Gasol], Derrick [Rose], my coaches of course. I think I still have a long way to go.’’