Bulls Weekly Preview: Heat, Hawks, and Knicks – December 19 - 25, 2022

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Bulls Weekly Preview: Heat, Hawks, and Knicks – December 19 – 25, 2022

Chicago Bulls

Another winless week for the Bulls has them entering play tonight at 11-18, and this team is absolutely lost. At best, they’re a play-in hopeful. At worst, they’re a team needing a reset that lacks the assets and flexibility to do it.

If I had told you three months ago that the United Center tenant with the brighter/clearer future was the Blackhawks, you would have lit me up in the comments. But now …

Meet the Opponents:

  • 12/20 @ Heat (16-15): Good luck beating us at home twice …
  • 12/21 @ Hawks (15-15): We’ll play you down to the final half-second …
  • 12/23 @ Knicks (17-13): Insert Thibs laugh.gif …

Bulls Projected Lineup

1. Alex Caruso
2. Zach LaVine
3. DeMar DeRozan
4. Patrick Williams
5. Nikola Vučević

Opponent Projected Lineup

Heat:

1. Kyle Lowry
2. Tyler Herro
3. Caleb Martin
4. Jimmy Butler
5. Bam Adebayo

Hawks:

1. Trae Young
2. Dejounte Murray
3. Bogdan Bogdanovic
4. De’Andre Hunter
5. John Collins

Knicks:

1. Jalen Brunson
2. Quentin Grimes
3. R.J. Barrett
4. Julius Randle
5. Mitchell Robinson

Unavailable/Injured (at the start of the week):

Bulls: Lonzo Ball OUT (knee), Javonte Green QST (knee)

Heat: Jimmy Butler PROBABLE (knee), Dewayne Dedmon PROBABLE (foot), Kyle Lowry QST (knee), Caleb Martin QST (ankle), Gabe Vincent OUT (knee)

Hawks: Clint Capela OUT (calf)

Knicks: Obi Toppin OUT (knee)

Four Factors

•   Bulls: 54.1 EFG% (14th), 14.4 TOV% (14th), 23.9 OREB% (26th), .258 FTA RATE (20th)

•   Heat: 52.4 EFG% (23rd), 14.2 TOV% (11th), 25.5 OREB% (23rd), .236 FTA RATE (27th)

•   Hawks: 52.1 EFG% (25th), 13.1 TOV% (2nd), 26.4 OREB% (20th), .279 FTA RATE (10th)

•   Knicks: 51.5 EFG% (27th), 14.1 TOV% (10th), 14.1 OREB% (3rd), .279 FTA RATE (11th)

What to Watch For …

Bulls:  It’s desperation time for the Bulls, and it’s not even Christmas. At 11-18, the Bulls are on the outside looking in when it comes to the play-in tournament. While they’re only a game behind the Raptors for the final spot in the tournament, they’re also only a few games above the cellar in the Eastern Conference. Another shaky week could have the Bulls 3-4 games behind Toronto. After watching the Bulls lose four straight and seven of nine, there’s no reason to be confident otherwise.

Remember when Eli deemed the next 10 games potentially make or break for the Bulls season on December 5? Well, they’re 2-4, with four games in the next seven days before things get complicated. After they wrap up that 10-game stretch next Monday against Houston, the Bulls’ following 10 games look like this: Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland (2x), Brooklyn, Philly, Utah, Boston, Washington, OKC, and Golden State. If the Bulls don’t fare well in these next four games, they might be flirting with a record 10-12 games under .500 by Jan. 15!

Heat: Ironically, the Heat are the only team on the schedule this week that the Bulls have beaten this season. It seems like forever ago now that the Bulls went into Miami and stole an opening-night victory from the Heat. Miami was a perfect 4-0 last week, and I don’t think they’ll be too obliging in the Bulls’ return trip to Miami. The good news for the Bulls is that the Heat are a little banged up heading into this one.

Hawks: Atlanta stole one from the Bulls on December 11, but the Hawks are the most beatable team on the slate this week. Atlanta has been a disappointment this year and is dealing with a rocky dynamic between Nate McMillan and Trae Young. Still, Atlanta got Dejounte Murray — noted Bulls killer — back this week, so they’ve got that going for them in this week’s matchup with the Bulls.

Knicks: It certainly seems like the Knicks have the Bulls’ number after a pair of maddening losses to New York at home last week. The Knicks are red-hot and have won seven straight games thanks to the injection of life in the starting lineup that Quentin Grimes has provided Tom Thibodeau’s squad.



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.