Five games in seven nights. That is what is immediately in front of the Chicago Bulls (21-24) who return from a trip to Paris, France one win better than when they departed one week ago. It’s quite the shifting of gears that is going to take a renewed mindset.
But, before that, they endured a three-game skid that followed an identical-length win streak.
They need to ensure they are locked in over the next week in what could be a season-defining stretch with the Bulls still hanging around in a muddled Eastern Conference. If they are going to get and stay locked in, it’s going to have to start at the top and veteran DeMar DeRozan is taking it upon himself to relay the message.
DeMar DeRozan: Every Bulls Game ‘Do-or-Die’
“‘This is the time’,’’ DeRozan says he told his teammates, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “And it’s on us. We have to show how much we want it. Every single game from here on out is basically like a do-or-die. And not to look at it like it’s pressure or a bad thing. It’s an exciting thing.”
The Bulls tilt with the Atlanta Hawks on January 23 will be the first leg of a back-to-back and one of just two home games during this trying stretch both of which bookend a three-game road excursion. The good news is that it precedes a four-game homestand.
For DeRozan, this will be his second game in the last two weeks.
DeRozan is averaging 26.1 points on 59.6% true shooting this season. He missed three games dealing with a strained quad as the Bulls went 1-2 without him. His return against Detroit saw him get right back into the swing of things with 26 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a block.
“This is what you want,” the five-time All-Star said. “To be written down as one of the best, you gotta go out there and compete and take on the challenges in front of you. This is a great challenge we can thrive on.”
Another Milestone for the DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan is set to become the 143rd player in NBA history (151st including ABA history) to reach 1000 games played. He became the 50th player to reach the 20000-point barrier in October as he continues to defy Father Time in his 14th NBA season.
“I have never, ever taken this for granted,” DeRozan told Johnson. “That’s one thing I stress to the younger guys now. I look back on my career, the amount of players I played with that just kind of suddenly disappear in the wind. As much as I love this game, when you look at it from that perspective, the game can be taken away from you at any minute.”
Hopefully, for the Bulls’ sake, his wealth of knowledge pays off in wins down the stretch.