The Chicago Bulls’ first-place “Big 3” of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic is about to battle the Brooklyn Nets’ second-place “Big 3” of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden on ESPN.
Just read that sentence again. And one more time. SO COOL, RIGHT!?
Brooklyn Nets (25-14) at Chicago Bulls (27-11) – 9:00 p.m. CT on ESPN (TV), and 670 The Score (Radio)
1. Lonzo Ball
2. Zach LaVine
3. DeMar DeRozan
4. Derrick Jones Jr.
5. Nikola Vucevic
Injury Report: Patrick Williams OUT (Wrist), Alex Caruso OUT (Foot), Javonte Green OUT (groin), Tyler Cook (ankle)
1. Kyrie Irving
2. James Harden
3. Deandre’ Bembry
4. Kevin Durant
5. Blake Griffin
Injury Report: Nic Claxton OUT (hamstring), LaMarcus Aldridge OUT (foot), Joe Harris OUT (ankle)
What to Watch For …
• The Chicago Bulls have a 2-o lead on the Brooklyn Nets in the season series, first beating them by a dominant 23 points on November 8th before grabbing the victory by a less-dominant 4 points on December 24th. Regardless, a win is a win, and both victories have played a pivotal role in establishing Chicago as one of the elite teams in the NBA. The only problem is that both victories also surely made a superstar-packed team vengeful. Thanks to Kyrie Irving finally rejoining the Nets, Chicago will go up against the Nets trio for the first time this season, and they will do so without one of their best defenders. The absence of Alex Caruso could be felt tonight, especially when we consider how well he shut down James Harden the first time these two met (Harden went just 4-11 with 14 points). I hope Ayo Dosunmu is up for another challenge!
• Where the Bulls will hope to take advantage is in the frontcourt. With both Nic Claxton and LaMarcus Aldridge out due to varying injuries, the Nets will be very limited in the rim-protection department. Nikola Vucevic is set to have an aggressive size advantage, and the Bulls would be wise to establish his interior presence from the jump. Vucevic has struggled to find his shot at times this season (especially around the rim), but we were all reminded of how quick he can turn it on when he single-handedly outscored the Pistons in the 3rd quarter last night. Not to mention, he has been passing at a high-level all season long, and the sooner the Bulls force the Nets defense to collapse on the big man, the easier shots Vucevic can help them create.
• Zach LaVine has scored a combined 55 points on 51.0 percent shooting from the field in two games against the Nets. DeMar DeRozan has scored a combined 57 points on 52.2 percent shooting from the field in two games against the Nets. In other words, this duo has proof they can rise to the occasion against one of the best teams in the league, and I expect we see that continue tonight.
• More in here …
Donovan Loves LaVine, Bring on the Vengeful Nets, Dominance Leads to Extra Rest, and Other Bulls Bulletshttps://t.co/ui78tq5y91
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) January 12, 2022