Pre-Gamin': Suns at Bulls (7:00 CT) — Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

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Pre-Gamin’: Suns at Bulls (7:00 CT) — Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

Chicago Bulls

After the Phoenix Suns swept the Bulls in 2020-21 on their way to the NBA Finals and their only meeting in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, the Bulls will look for their first win against the Suns since March 18, 2019 tonight.

Zach LaVine WILL be starting for the Bulls tonight. Coby White will be a game-time decision.

Game Info

Phoenix Suns (42-10) at Chicago Bulls (33-20) – 7:00 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago (TV), and 670 The Score (Radio)

Projected Starters

Chicago Bulls

1. Ayo Dosunmu
2. Troy Brown Jr.
3. DeMar DeRozan
4. Javonte Green
5. Nikola Vučević

Injury Report: Patrick Williams OUT (Wrist), Lonzo Ball OUT (knee), Derrick Jones Jr. OUT (knee), Alex Caruso OUT (Wrist), Zach LaVine QST (back), Coby White QST (groin)

Phoenix Suns

1. Chris Paul
2. Devin Booker
3. Mikal Bridges
4. Jae Crowder
5. Deandre Ayton

Injury Report: Dario Saric OUT (knee), Frank Kaminsky OUT (knee), Cameron Payne OUT (wrist), Landry Shamet OUT (ankle), Abel Nader OUT (knee)

What to Watch For …

•   Phoenix comes into town with an NBA-best 42 wins this evening, and if the Bulls were completely healthy, this would be one heck of a dose of 90s NBA nostalgia. The Bulls and Suns at the top of their conferences was a thing in the MJ and Chuck days, and it would have made for a fun storyline for tonight’s game. Instead, without this team at full strength, I am worried about them getting blown out on their home floor. The Bulls are on the back-end of a back-to-back tonight, and it’ll be impressive if they can simply hang around with the Suns. That’s where I’m keeping my expectations for this one.

• Nikola Vučević is averaging 22.4 points and 13.1 rebounds in 35.4 minutes in his last ten games, answering the calls for the veteran center to step it up with the Bulls battling injuries to key players. Vooch logged a pair of 30-point, 15-rebounds contests last week and became the first Bulls player since Michael Jordan in 1996 to record 35 points, 15 rebounds & 3 blocks in a single game. Vooch has been darn good, but he’ll have his hands full tonight with Deandre Ayton as his matchup just one day after dealing with Joel Embiid.

•   The Bulls continued to get bullied by pretty much everyone they play in the paint. They allowed opposing teams an NBA-worst 56 points in the paint per game in their four contests last week, and they allowed Toronto to log a whopping 22 offensive rebounds in their loss to the Raptors. Joel Embiid has his way with the Bulls on Sunday as well, making it abundantly (and continuously) clear that the Bulls need help at the rim. The Suns hold the 9th-best REB% in the NBA, and they also happen to average the 9th-most points in the paint.

•  DeMar DeRozan’s season-best 45 points yesterday versus Philadelphia made him the first Bulls player with multiple 40-point games without hitting a three-pointer since Michael Jordan did so during the 1997-98 season. The team will need a similarly strong showing tonight against a well-rounded Suns team, which is a lot easier said than done roughly 24 hours after playing 41 minutes.

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Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.