Bulls Weekly Preview: Kings, Jazz, Suns – March 14-19, 2022

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Bulls Weekly Preview: Kings, Jazz, Suns – March 14-19, 2022

Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls head out West one last time (until the NBA Finals, of course).

Meet the Opponents:

•  3/14 @ Kings (24-45): You think Alex Caruso can stop De’Aaron Fox from dropping 30 on your weak rim protection!? You’re probably right.
•  3/16 @ Jazz (42-25): We’re your one win against a top-4 team in either conference, and we’re not going to be your second. 
•  3/18 @ Suns (54-14): If you can’t take the heat … get out of Phoenix. 

Bulls Projected Lineup

1. Ayo Dosunmu
2. Zach LaVine
3. DeMar DeRozan
4. Javonte Green
5. Nikola Vučević

Opponent Projected Lineup

Kings:

1. De’Aaron Fox
2. Justin Holiday
3. Harrison Barnes
4. Trey Lyles
5. Domantas Sabonis

Jazz:

1. Mike Conley
2. Donovan Mitchell
3. Bojan Bogdanovic
4. Royce O’Neal
5. Rudy Gobert

Suns:

1. Cameron Payne
2. Devin Booker
3. Mikal Bridges
4. Jae Crowder
5. Deandre Ayton

Unavailable/Injured (at the start of the week):

Bulls: Zach LaVine QUESTIONABLE (knee), Patrick Williams OUT (wrist), Lonzo Ball OUT (knee)

Kings: Justin Holiday QUESTIONABLE (illness), Alex Len QUESTIONABLE (back), Terence Davis OUT (wrist), Jeremy Lamb OUT (personal)

Jazz: Trent Forrest DAY-TO-DAY (wrist), Bojan Bogdanovic DAY-TO-DAY (calf)m Udoka Azubuike OUT (ankle)

Suns: Cameron Johnson OUT (quad), Chris Paul OUT (thumb), Frank Kaminsky OUT (knee), Dario Saric OUT (ACL)

Injury updates via ESPN

Four Factors

•   Bulls:  54.6 EFG% (5th), 13.0 TOV% (6th), 24.7 OREB% (29th), .242 FTA RATE (18th)

•   Kings:  52.3 EFG% (22nd), 14.0 TOV% (16th), 26.8 OREB% (17th), .257 FTA RATE (6th)

•   Jazz:  55.8 EFG% (1st), 14.5 TOV% (21st), 29.6 OREB% (5th), .266 FTA RATE (4th)

•   Suns:  54.7 EFG% (4th), 12.9 TOV% (4th), 26.2 OREB% (22nd), .224 FTA RATE (27th)

What to Watch For …

Bulls: As far as I’m concerned, this week is all about playing disciplined basketball for the Chicago Bulls. Whether it be facing a Kings team that gets to the free-throw line a ton, a Jazz team that eats offensive rebounds for breakfast, or a Suns team that limits their mistakes as well as anyone in the league, the Bulls need to avoid self-inflicted wounds. And, unfortunately, that has been a lot easier said than done recently. The Bulls have been rather elite at shooting themselves in the foot over the past month, allowing opponents to shoot 25.1 free-throw attempts per game while turning the ball over more than usual. The immediate presence of Alex Caruso cleaned things up in a number of ways on Saturday night against the Cavaliers, but it’s going to take a collectively smart and focused effort to make the most out of this week.

Kings: De’Aaron Fox is the reason the game was even close the last time the Kings and Bulls met. The athletic and speedy driver dropped 33 points on a 14-26 performance from the field. Shooting 66 percent at the rim this season, he can give a Bulls team that allows the 7th-most points in the paint fits, which is why it feels huge that Alex Caruso is finally back in the rotation. The Bulls will rely heavily on Caruso’s pesky on-ball defense and ability to fight around screens. Make Fox’s life difficult, and the win should follow.

Jazz: The last time these teams met, the Jazz shot a shockingly uncharacteristic 38.0 percent from the floor. At least part of the reason for that was the menacing backcourt duo of Caruso and Ball, but we’ve still seen this well-rounded offense give even the most elite defenses problems over the past couple of seasons. A big reason for that is their shotmaking behind the arc. The Jazz take the 2nd-most 3-pointers per game, and they convert them at the 7th-highest clip in the NBA. That’s a stark contrast from a Bulls team that averages by far the fewest attempts from downtown, which only brings me back to that whole “disciplined basketball” thing. The Bulls must play an efficient offensive game across the board to keep up with Utah.

Suns: Chris Paul went down, yet the Suns haven’t missed a bit. Phoenix continues to be the most balanced team in the NBA and has lost just four games since the start of February. To beat them is to be at your best, and I’m not sure a Bulls team still absent of multiple rotation players will be able to say that on Friday night. Still, we should never say never in the NBA, and I believe the Bulls can keep this competitive as long as Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan play like the top duo we know they can be. If both come in on their A-game – while the supporting cast plays physically on the other end to neutralize the impact of some of the Suns’ role players – they could steal one.

Question of the Week:

Last week’s question: So … where will the Bulls be seeded?

The Chicago Bulls remain in an uncomfortable No. 4 seed. They are one game ahead of the Boston Celtics and only a half a game behind the Milwaukee Bucks. While only a few weeks remain in the regular season, movement up and down the top-6 will be plentiful. Buckle up.

This week’s question: How much better does this team look with Alex Caruso?



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.