Unfortunately, this week isn’t much easier than the last, and it kicks off this afternoon in Memphis with an MLK Day matchup with the red-hot Grizzlies. Let’s hope the Bulls aren’t in for a second helping of humble pie as they limp into another tough stretch.
Meet the Opponents:
• 1/17 @ Grizzlies (30-15): We’re the hottest team in the NBA, and we know how to beat the Nets and Warriors!
• 1/19 vs. Cavaliers (26-18): Matchup problems and size under the rim, that’s our game.
• 1/21 @ Bucks (27-18): Welcome to Milwaukee, home of the defending NBA Champions!
• 1/15 @ Magic (8-36): At least we’ve got Disney World.
Bulls Projected Lineup
1. Ayo Dosunmu
2. Coby White
3. DeMar DeRozan
4. Alfonzo McKinnie
5. Nikola Vučević
Opponent Projected Lineup
1. Ja Morant
2. Desmond Bane
3. Ziaire Williams
4. Brandon Clarke
5. Jaren Jackson
1. Darius Garland
2. Lamar Stevens
3. Lauri Markkanen
4. Evan Mobley
5. Jarrett Allen
1. Grayson Allen
2. Wesley Matthews
3. Khris Middleton
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo
5. Bobby Portis
1. Cole Anthony
2. Gary Harris
3. Franz Wagner
4. Chuma Okeke
5. Mo Bamba
Unavailable/Injured (at the start of the week):
Bulls: Patrick Williams OUT (Wrist), Lonzo Ball OUT (knee), Zach LaVine OUT (knee), Derrick Jones Jr. OUT (knee), Alex Caruso OUT (Foot), Javonte Green OUT (groin), Tyler Cook (ankle)
Caruso Out of Protocols, Grizzlies Are a Matchup Nightmare, and Other Bulls Bulletshttps://t.co/mpduNVSaqD
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) January 17, 2022
Grizzlies: Yves Pones OUT (H&S P’s), Killian Tillie OUT, Dillon Brooks OUT (Ankle)
Cavaliers: Collin Sexton OUT (Knee), Ricky Rubio OUT (Knee), Rajon Rondo OUT (Hamstring), Lamar Stevens QST (Knee)
Bucks: Brook Lopez OUT (Back), Langston Galloway OUT, Jrue Holiday OUT (Ankle)
Magic: Michael Carter-Williams OUT (Ankle), E’Twaun Moore OUT (Knee), Markelle Fultz OUT (H&S P’s), Jonathan Isaac OUT (Knee), Wendell Carter Jr OUT (Hamstring)
Injury updates via ESPN.
• Bulls: 54.2 EFG% (3rd), 13.3 TOV% (7th), 24.5 OREB% (28th), .239 FTA RATE (15th)
• Grizzlies: 51.5 EFG% (23rd), 13.4 TOV% (8th), 32.8 OREB% (2nd), .232 FTA RATE (19th)
• Cavaliers: 53.5 EFG% (8th), 15.2 TOV% (28th), 27.5 OREB% (12th), .238 FTA RATE (16th)
• Bucks: 53.4 EFG% (10th), 14.1 TOV% (14th), 26.9 OREB% (15th), .240 FTA RATE (14th)
• Magic: 49.4 EFG% (28th), 15.0 TOV% (25th), 26.6 OREB% (16th), .222 FTA RATE (23rd)
What to Watch For …
Bulls: Just about the only good thing that happened for the Bulls this week was the injury that wasn’t for Zach LaVine. After LaVine stopped the collective heartbeat of the entire city in the first quarter of Friday night’s loss to Golden State, an MRI showed no structural damage to the All-Star guard’s knee. But outside of the positive returns on LaVine’s MRI, last week was a disaster. This week doesn’t look any easier with Memphis, Cleveland, and Milwaukee on the schedule and Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball sidelined to start. As long as LaVine is out, how can the Bulls make up for his scoring and 3-point shooting? Coby White has played great as of late, and that’s exactly what head coach Billy Donovan will need to continue to see if this team wants to stay afloat.
Grizzlies: Memphis is a matchup nightmare for the Bulls. As Eli pointed out this morning in bullets, opponents have averaged the 3rd-most points in the paint against the Bulls since December 1, and Morant has averaged the 2nd-most points in the paint per game since December 1 (behind only Giannis Antetokounmpo). The Grizzlies rebound better than anyone in the league, and the Bulls are the second-to-worst rebounding team. No LaVine, No Lonzo, No Caruso, etc., etc., etc… this one might get ugly fast in Memphis.
Cavaliers: The Cavs come into this one dealing with a barrage of backcourt injuries. However, they still have three seven-footers in their frontcourt, and they present matchup problems for an undersized and undermanned Bulls frontcourt. The Cavaliers have already beaten the Bulls once this season (115-92 – December 8) in a game where Cleveland out-rebounded the Bulls and out-shot them from range by a wide margin.
Bucks: The Bulls visit Milwaukee for the first time this season, and the timing couldn’t be any worse. The Bulls are beat up and shorthanded, and Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks have beaten both the Nets and Warriors in the past week. Losers of three (and counting?) straight and missing three starters is not how the Bulls want to head into Milwaukee for the first time this season, so let’s hope we see some guys return by then.
Magic: It’s Orlando. The Bulls will look to cap off the season-sweep of the Magic this weekend in what might be their only winnable game this week. Let’s just hope they don’t arrive in Orlando on a six-game losing streak.
Question of the week …
Last Question: Can the Bulls stack up with the best of them?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that way right now. The Brooklyn Nets blasted the Bulls on Wednesday at home. The Golden State Warriors came into town on Friday (a team that has already blown the Bulls out once this season) without Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Gary Payton II and blew the doors off the Bulls once again. The Bulls then limped into Boston, licking their wounds and down Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball and lost to the Celtics.
How much will these lopsided losses to genuine contenders mean come playoff time is anybody’s guess, but right now, the Bulls appear to be stuck just behind the league’s top teams.
This Week’s Question: Can the Bulls rebound from their most challenging week of the season and get back on track?