After dropping back-to-back games to the Pelicans and Magic last week, the Bulls find themselves entering the week at 6-10 and closer to the top of the Tankathon standings than the Eastern Conference standings. Woof.
Today, the Bulls are sitting in the seventh spot in the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery standings. The problem with that? That pick would be heading to the Orlando Magic, the very team that beat them on Friday night. Things are looking pretty grim for the Bulls right now, especially with matchups against the Celtics and Bucks staring them in the face to open this week.
There’s a very real possibility that the Bulls could be 6-12 on Thanksgiving, and as bad as 6-13 by the time we check in again next Monday.
Meet the Opponents:
- 11/21 vs. Celtics (13-3): Marcus Smart is back tonight …
- 11/23 @ Bucks (11-4): We know you haven’t forgotten about the Playoffs …
- 11/13 @ Thunder (7-9): Don’t look past Shai …
Bulls Projected Lineup
1. Ayo Dosunmu
2. Zach LaVine
3. DeMar DeRozan
4. Patrick Williams
5. Nikola Vučević
Opponent Projected Lineup
1. Marcus Smart
2. Derrick White
3. Jaylen Brown
4. Jayson Tatum
5. Al Horford
1. Jevon Carter
2. Jrue Holiday
3. Greyson Allen
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo
5. Brook Lopez
1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
2. Josh Giddey
3. Lu Dort
4. Kenrich Williams
5. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
Unavailable/Injured (at the start of the week):
Bulls: OUT – Lonzo Ball (knee)
Celtics: OUT – Robert Williams III (knee), OUT – Danillo Gallinari (knee)
Bucks: OUT – Wesley Matthews (hamstring), OUT – Khris Middleton (wrist), OUT – Joe Ingles (knee)
Thunder: OUT – Chet Holmgren (foot), OUT – Tre Mann (back), OUT – Aleksej Pokusevski (ankle), OUT – Darius Bazley (ankle), OUT – Isaiah Joe (knee)
• Bulls: 52.6 EFG% (20th), 15.1 TOV% (20th), 26.8 OREB% (18th), .270 FTA RATE (14th)
• Celtics: 58.0 EFG% (2nd), 13.1 TOV% (4th), 23.1 OREB% (17th), .260 RATE (19th)
• Bucks: 51.5 EFG% (24th), 15.0 TOV% (19th), 30.9 OREB% (8th), .270 FTA RATE (15th)
• Thunder: 53.2 EFG% (17th), 13.2 TOV% (5th), 27.7 OREB% (17th), .208 FTA RATE (30th)
What to Watch For …
Bulls: We knew that Lonzo Ball’s absence, coupled with Zach LaVine’s load management that popped up at the beginning of the season, would be cause for concern, but the 6-10 start that the Bulls are off to – including four straight losses – is nothing short of a disaster. The Bulls’ loss to the lowly Magic at home on Friday night was an embarrassment that ended with Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams benched down the stretch.
With Boston in town tonight, and a season-long six-game road trip kicking off on Wednesday in Milwaukee, the Bulls desperately need some spark. Billy Donovan benching the struggling LaVine and Williams after calling on his big three of LaVine, DeRozan, and Vooch to bring more early in games was a sign that Donovan might be willing to shake things up a bit. Maybe move Patrick Williams out of the starting lineup or shake up the minute shares and rotations. I don’t have an answer for this, but the Bulls need to come up with one and do it fast.
Celtics: The Celtics look like a wagon right now, and while the Bulls did net a victory over the Celtics in one of their previous two meetings this season, this isn’t the ideal bounce-back matchup for the Bulls. Boston will get the reigning Defensive Player of the Year back in Marcus Smart tonight, and Al Horford has been nothing short of stellar in Robert Williams III’s absence. Horford is shooting nearly 60 percent from the field and making 47.5 percent of his three-pointers. Sprinkle in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and the Bulls have their work cut out tonight.
Bucks: Like the Celtics, the Bucks are playing very well right now, and we know that they have the Bulls’ number. Milwaukee is eighth in the league in offensive rebounds and one of the best on the defensive glass. Khris Middleton being sidelined is a significant plus for the Bulls, but Giannis Antetokounmpo is a force to be reckoned with. If you remember the playoffs last season, the Bucks are a daunting follow-up to tonight’s matchup with the Celtics.
Thunder: While it’s easy to circle the Oklahoma City Thunder as the easiest game of the week, the Bulls can’t take Billy Donovan’s old team lightly. OKC dropped two of three last week to the Celtics and Grizzlies, with their lone win coming over the Wizards. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 31.1 points per game this season, and he’s doing at a highly efficient clip north of 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three-point range, and 90 percent from the free throw line.