After opening things up with a win over the Jazz in Salt Lake City, the Chicago Bulls sputtered to a 1-3 finish last week. So, yeah … this team (9-14) is in big trouble, whether they want to admit it or not.
On the bright side, Zach LaVine closed last week’s schedule with a 41-point, eight-rebound performance on 16-of-28 shooting, which should drive optimism that maybe he’s close to turning the corner this season.
I sure hope that LaVine is close to looking like the player that the Bulls staked their future on, because, as Eli wrote on Monday, the next 10 games could make or break the Bulls’ entire season:
Meet the Opponents:
- 12/7 vs. Wizards (11-13): We still didn’t forget the season sweep last year …
- 12/10 vs. Mavericks (11-11): It’s Luka time …
- 12/11 @ Hawks (13-10): New team, same Bulls-killing Dejounte?
Bulls Projected Lineup
1. Alex Caruso
2. Zach LaVine
3. DeMar DeRozan
4. Patrick Williams
5. Nikola Vučević
Opponent Projected Lineup
1. Monte Morris
2. Bradley Beal
3. Will Barton
4. Kyle Kuzma
5. Kristaps Porzingis
1. Luka Doncic
2. Spencer Dinwiddie
3. Tim Hardaway Jr.
4. Dorian Finney-Smith
5. Dwight Powell
1. Trae Young
2. Dejounte Murray
3. De’Andre Hunter
4. John Collins
5. Clint Capela
Unavailable/Injured (at the start of the week):
Bulls: Javonte Green DTD (knee), Lonzo Ball OUT (knee)
Wizards: Devon Dotson OUT (COVID-19), Johnny Davis OUT (COVID-19), Delon Wright OUT (hamstring), Bradley Beal DTD (hamstring), Rui Hachimura OUT (ankle)
Mavericks: Christian Wood DTD (illness), Kemba Walker OUT (knee)
Hawks: Justin Holiday OUT (COVID-19), Trent Forrest OUT (concussion), De’Andre Hunter OUT (hip), John Collins OUT (hip)
• Bulls: 52.7 EFG% (20th), 14.3 TOV% (11th), 25.0 OREB% (26th), .266 FTA RATE (16th)
• Wizards: 53.3 EFG% (17th), 13.3 TOV% (3rd), 26.7 OREB% (19th), .252 FTA RATE (23rd)
• Mavericks: 55.4 EFG% (7th), 13.1 TOV% (2nd), 23.9 OREB% (27th), .301 FTA RATE (3rd)
• Hawks: 52.1 EFG% (23rd), 12.8 TOV% (1st), 28.7 OREB% (14th), .233 FTA RATE (27th)
What to Watch For …
Bulls: The Bulls rank in the top third in almost every category when it comes to transition offense, and they rely pretty heavily on it in their winning efforts, so this week’s slate of opponents lines up as a particularly tough matchup with Washington, Dallas, and Atlanta leading the NBA in turnover percentage entering the week. The week opens with the Wizards, who rank third, and only gets stingier as they take on the Mavericks (second) and Hawks (first) to close out the week.
Wizards: The Wizards are playing sub-.500 ball and banged up with Bradley Beal (22.9 PPG) and Rui Hachimura (13.5 PPG in his last 10 games) both appearing on the injury report at the start of the week. Still, the Wiz seem to give the Bulls a run for their money whenever they play them. This is the most winnable game on the schedule this week.
Mavericks: The Mavericks might be sitting at .500 entering the week, but Luka Doncic is a player I just don’t bet against. Dallas won the last meeting between the Mavs and Bulls in January (113-99), but the Bulls won their first meeting of the season back in November 2021 (117-107) and had won four straight before the January loss to the Mavs.
Hawks: Trae Young is always a candidate for a big night, but when the Hawks visit Atlanta, they’ll have another problem: Dejounte Murray. Murray loves playing the Bulls, averaging 13.3 points, 6.2 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game in eight career contests. Murray torched the Bulls last season with the Spurs, averaging 24 points, 11.5 assists, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game in two matchups. Alex Caruso and the Bulls’ backcourt will have their hands full with the tandem of Young and Murray on Sunday.