The Chicago Bulls have endured a tough run of form recently, losing four straight since beating the Washington Wizards on February 25.
The losing streak has seen the Windy City franchise slip out of the playoff standings in the Eastern Conference and they now find themselves in 10th spot with 22 games remaining.
If the Bulls roster isn't going to be watching the playoffs from their sofa they're going to have turn things around quickly. Getting their best players on the court would help them do that, making a report from CSN Chicago's Vincent Goodwill regarding the status of Jimmy Butler very encouraging.
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According to Goodwill, Jimmy Butler will return to the Chicago lineup for the their game against the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.
Per his report:
"The Bulls will get their best player back Saturday, as Jimmy Butler will return to the team’s lineup against the Houston Rockets...
"(He) will officially practice with the team tomorrow, where coach Fred Hoiberg will likely be cautiously optimistic about Butler’s status."
The shooting guard has missed Chicago's last 11 games due to a knee injury and, having been playing at an All-Star level to that point, his absence has been greatly felt at both ends of the court.
Missing Butler's permieter defense, Chicago have struggled to restrict opponents in the 11 outings without him and have allowed at least 100 points in each game.
Offensively, the 26-year-old had become the Bulls' focal point this season and, with him on the sidelines, Fred Hoiberg's team haven't been as fluid.
Of course, with a raft of other injuries affecting their roster at present, Butler's expected return against Houston this weekend won't necessarily solve all of Chicago's problems.
It will, though, be a very solid start as the franchise looks to avoid missing out on the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
Butler is averaging 22.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists in his 48 starts this season and, again per Goodwill, the Bulls are 3.2 points better off per 100 possessions when he is on the court.
3-8 since he strained his knee on February 18, Chicago certainly need to capitalise on the momentum that a Butler return will generate.
With the Rockets also struggling to win a playoff bearth out West, Saturday night could be the perfect time for the Bulls to turn their season around.