After a grueling start to the season, the Chicago Bulls were awarded with a much-needed three-day break. This gave them their first real opportunity this season to re-evaluate where they stand and address some of the areas that have given them trouble to being the year. You know, things like turnovers, defending the 3-point line, and finishing out games.
When we consider the cards they were dealt by the schedule makers, the Bulls had themselves a decent start to the year. But it’s now time to take advantage of the rest days ahead and stack some wins (which will still be a lot easier said than done with the Nuggets, Pelicans, Celtics, and Bucks making up four of the next five games).
Denver Nuggets (8-4) at Chicago Bulls (6-7) – 7:00 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago, and 670 The Score (Radio)
1. Ayo Dosunmu
2. Zach LaVine
3. DeMar DeRozan
4. Patrick Williams
5. Nikola Vucevic
Injury Report: Lonzo Ball OUT (knee), Coby White OUT (quad)
1. Jamal Murray
2. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
3. Kevin Porter Jr.
4. Aaron Gordon
5. Nikola Jokic
Injury Report: Bones Hyland OUT (Health & Safety Protocols), Ish Smith OUT (knee), Collin Gillespie OUT (leg)
The Bulls walk into tonight as +1.5 underdogs against the Nuggets at PointsBet Illinois Sportsbook and as +2.0 underdogs at the FanDuel Illinois Sportsbook. Click on either link to sign up and pick the Bulls to cover (… or pick the opposite …)!
What to Watch For …
- The Denver Nuggets are a very good basketball team, which is what tends to happen when you have a two-time MVP on the roster. Nikola Jokic remains as dangerous as ever. While his scoring has gone down to start the season, he’s still averaging an incredibly well-rounded 21.8 points, 8.5 assists, and 9.8 rebounds. He’s shooting a career-high 59.8 from the field and has helped pace the Nuggets toward a 3rd-place offensive rating. While the Bulls may have some big bodies in Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond to throw at him, the rest of the Bulls’ defense will have to be on their A-game to ensure Jokic doesn’t pick them apart with his elite court vision.
- The good news for the Bulls is that Denver has faced some struggles on the defensive end. They currently allow opponents to score 53.7 points per game in the paint, which is the 5th-most in the league. Likewise, they rank a lackluster 23rd in opponent fastbreak points. So if the Bulls can force some turnover and stay active on the glass, they should be able to get downhill and put some real pressure on the paint.
- Depth has continued to be a problem for Denver at times this year. While the Bulls’ bench has been one of the best in the league, Denver’s second unit holds just the 28th net rating in the NBA. Bones Hyland has been the biggest factor off the bench for the Nuggets, scoring 14.0 points per game and shooting 50.0 percent from downtown, but the Bulls will dodge him tonight as he sits out due to health and safety protocols.
- More in here about how 3-point shooting could decide this game …