The Chicago Bulls will play the New Orleans Pelicans twice over their next three games … and to say “I’m a tad concerned…” might be an understatement.
- The New Orleans Pelicans have *a lot* of talent. Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, obviously, highlight this youthful roster, but veteran additions like CJ McCollum and Jonas Valacinunas have gone a long way toward making this group a true playoff threat. Role players like Larry Nance Jr., Herb Jones, Jose Alvarado, and Devonte’ Graham have also proven to be key contributors at times, giving the Pelicans the kind of two-way depth that can make them a tough challenge for almost any team.
- How the Bulls are able to handle New Orleans’ size, in particular, will be the thing to watch in this first matchup. They currently lead the league in points in the paint per game, and they also happen to hold the NBA’s 3rd-highest REB%. Not only can this team play bully-ball down low with guys like Williamson and Valacinunas, but they can get downhill in transition as efficiently as any team in the league. The Pelicans currently average the 4th-most points per 100 possessions in transition, per Cleaning the Glass, and they also sit 5th in fastbreak points per game.
- The recipe for success tonight is rather simple, but the execution is not. Unless the Bulls uncharacteristically rain 3s, it’s going to be difficult for them to win without controlling the paint. While this means defending the rim with physicality, this also means rebounding like your life depends on it. To the Bulls’ credit, they have done a much better job on the glass so far season, but they could still have a real problem with the Pelicans’ sheer size.
- I say “could” because Andre Drummond’s availability is still up in the air. Having him back for a game like tonight would feel huge, especially when we remember how well he was playing before a shoulder injury sidelined him the past five games. Drummond averaged 9.0 points and 10.2 rebounds over his first five games of the season, and having those numbers against the Pelicans tonight could very well be the difference between winning and losing.
- I say all these scary things about Pelicans only to now tell you they have lost their last two games. First, they dropped a 124-121 battle in OT to the Atlanta Hawks. Second, they shockingly fell to the Indiana Pacers 129-122. And, yes, their traditional starters were in the lineup. The Pelicans aren’t some juggernaut (at least not yet). They are currently 5-5 and have allowed opponents to score the 10th-most points in the NBA. The Bulls’ offense should be able to keep this one interesting, but it will likely come down to whether or not they can prevent the Pelicans from feasting in the paint.
- Another Zach LaVine 30-point game sure wouldn’t hurt! The Chicago Bulls’ max player looked like … well … a max player on Monday night. I wrote a little bit more about how this may have marked the end of his early-season struggles below:
- For an offense that has struggled a bit out of the gate, it is encouraging to see the Bulls in the green. As LaVine continues to find his footing, I expect to see a much more consistently dominant offense begin to take shape (particularly when we factor in how well Nikola Vucevic is playing to start this year).
- SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK, RICKY!
- You know that face you make when you’re walking down the street and catch a slight whiff of something nasty? Maybe it’s coming from trash or the sewer, or maybe a rude citizen crop-dusted you. Regardless, I made that same unpleasant face when I read Bleacher Report’s Anthony Davis trade idea for the Bulls. The site pitched a package of *deep breath* … Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, Goran Dragic, and the Portland first-round pick.
- Look, I know Davis was once viewed as an MVP-caliber player, but he’s struggled to fit that mold in the past few years. So while I’m not at all denying that AD could have a resurgence, I’m not taking that chance at the expense of LaVine. What is this team without LaVine anyway? The whole point in getting Davis would be to pair him with a young franchise centerpiece like LaVine. Also, as a franchise that has dealt with so much injury trouble in recent years, I’m not sure Davis is the guy I want to put all my stock into.
- Yo why is Deuce trying to fight Javonte Green!?
- Stud then, stud now.
- The Nets did the smart thing and backed off Ime Udoka.
- The Bears finally have a QB *sheds single tear* …
- Wait, “The Extender” plays hockey!?
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