By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(670 The Score) This is now well past weird, and the return of Nikola Mirotic to the lineup has seemingly sparked the Bulls to one of the most unlikely winning streaks seen around here in some time.
What’s simply not supposed to be happening has happened in their six consecutive victories, and we’re staring at an obvious reason for it while also trying to understand that there has to be more going on.
Mirotic has gone nothing short of bananas since coming back from the trauma he suffered at the hand of teammate Bobby Portis, averaging 20.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in these games while shooting 51.9 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range. His Effective FG% — a measure that adjusts for the value of shots made — is at .630, ahead of LeBron James at .622. His current Personal Efficiency Rating of 26.9 would place him seventh in the entire NBA if qualified, just ahead of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
This isn’t sustainable, obviously, so enjoy it while you can.
It’s also the look and feel of it beyond the numbers. Mirotic is draining contested threes, moving his feet on defense, fighting for critical rebounds and keeping possessions alive around the basket. And as this is occurring, Kris Dunn and Portis have become much more effective players as well.
Correlation isn’t always causation, but the sudden rise of Mirotic powering the newly confident Bulls continues to be the story nobody saw coming.