As if the next handful of games didn’t already feel like must-wins, several of the Chicago Bulls’ upcoming opponents have recently gotten some unfortunate injury news.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Thursday that Atlanta’s Dejounte Murray will miss the next two weeks with an ankle sprain. The All-Star – who the organization acquired via a blockbuster trade in the offseason – has been the Hawks’ second-leading scorer so far this season. He’s also currently tied for third in the league in total steals, helping thrust Atlanta into a top-13 defense after finishing 26th last season.
Not only should this mean that the Bulls dodge the talented two-way player when the teams meet on Sunday, but it could mean they also miss Murray on Dec. 21. On top of that, there is a possibility that John Collins, who is out two weeks with his own ankle sprain, is also off the floor for both games, while Deandre Hunter appears at risk of missing at least Sunday’s game with a hip injury.
After the Bulls battle with Atlanta on the road, they’ll return to the United Center for two-straight contests against the New York Knicks. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski recently shared that former lottery pick Obi Toppin will sit out the next two-to-three weeks due to an issue with his left knee. Toppin’s impact for the Knicks isn’t nearly as great as Murray’s impact for the Hawks, but it still means one less ultra-athletic and physical player for the Chicago Bulls to worry about in two big games next week.
And the injury news doesn’t stop there. After facing the Knicks, the Bulls will fly to Minneapolis for a matchup with the T-Wolves. Minnesota has already been without All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns for three games due to a calf strain, and he isn’t expected to return from that injury until sometime in January.
Considering these final few weeks of 2022 already represented a much more opportune stretch for the Bulls, the pressure is now even greater for them to right the ship. Several of these teams have already been struggling, and there should be little reason for a mostly-healthy Bulls team not to put up a real fight.