After a shocking 3-1 road trip, the Chicago Bulls will now get to return to the United Center for four-straight games.
Just 1.5 games back from the No. 9 seeded Miami Heat, there is now a real opportunity for this crew to get back into the competitive mix by the time 2023 rolls around.
Do you believe?
Meet the Opponents:
- 12/26 vs. Rockets: Remember when we beat you last year?
- 12/28 vs. Bucks: You guys cut Kostas. Giannis isn’t happy.
- 12/30 vs. Pistons: The Bad Boys are coming …
- 12/31 vs. Cavaliers: How was that home opener? hehehe
Bulls Projected Lineup
1. Alex Caruso
2. Zach LaVine
3. DeMar DeRozan
4. Patrick Williams
5. Nikola Vučević
Opponent Projected Lineup
1. Kevin Porter Jr.
2. Jalen Green
3. Kenyon Martin Jr.
4. Jabari Smith
5. Alperen Sengun
1. Jrue Holiday
2. Grayson Allen
3. Pat Connaughton
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo
5. Brook Lopez
1. Killian Hayes
2. Jaden Ivey
3. Bojan Bogdanovic
4. Isaiah Stewart
5. Jalen Duren
1. Darius Garland
2. Donovan Mitchell
3. Isaac Okoro
4. Evan Mobley
5. Jarrett Allen
Unavailable/Injured (at the start of the week):
Rockets: Jae’Sean Tate OUT (ankle), Eric Gordon OUT (thumb)
Bucks: Khris Middleton OUT (knee)
Pistons: Isaiah Livers OUT (shoulder), Cade Cunningham OUT (shin)
Cavaliers: Dylan Windler OUT (ankle), Ricky Rubio OUT (knee), Dean Wade OUT (shoulder)
• Bulls: 54.4 EFG% (13th), 14.7 TOV% (12th), 23.7 OREB% (28th), .257 FTA RATE (19th)
• Rockets: 50.7 EFG% (29th), 17.3 TOV% (30th), 35.1 OREB% (1st), .291 FTA RATE (5th)
• Bucks: 53.6 EFG% (17th), 15.1 TOV% (20th), 29.8 OREB% (10th), .267 FTA RATE (17th)
• Pistons: 51.3 EFG% (27th), 14.5 TOV%% (15th), 29.5 OREB% (11th), .307 FTA RATE (1st)
• Cavaliers: 54.9 EFG% (11th), 15.0 TOV%% (19th), 28.0 OREB% (18th), .278 FTA RATE (11th)
What to Watch For …
Bulls: Assuming the Bulls’ “Big 3” can continue their recent encouraging display of chemistry, this week could come down to the supporting cast. Especially with guys like Alex Caruso, Javonte Green, and Derrick Jones Jr. stuck on the injury report, somebody else is going to have to step up to help create deflections on defense and keep the offensive in motion on the opposite end. This is when players like Ayo Dosunmu, Patrick Williams, and Coby White must step up. At least one big game from each this week would be huge.
Rockets: If the Bulls want to be taken seriously as a lurking team, they have to take care of a team like the Houston Rockets. This young group has just nine wins to their name and holds the NBA’s fourth-worst net rating. They are as inexperienced as they come, but this can also be a scary thing. The Rockets don’t have a care in the world. They’re a rebuilding team with a ton of youthful and blindly confident talent. Whether it be Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Jabari Smith, or Alperen Sengun, these guys will come out believing they can beat this roster of veterans. The Bulls have to be ready for speed, athleticism, and physicality. If their not ready to do things like crash the glass and get back in transition, this could turn into a trap game fast.
Bucks: Six was the magic number when the Bulls beat the Bucks on Nov. 23. Chicago finished with six more 3-pointers than Milwaukee, six more assists, and six fewer turnovers. Overall, it was one of their most well-rounded and well-executed games of the year, and this is exactly what will have to happen again to steal another victory. It’s going to come down to limiting mistakes and hitting open shots. Every possession matters against Milwaukee.
Pistons: Similar to the Rockets, the Pistons have nothing to lose. This is a young team that will try to come out and prove they can outperform a group of All-Star-caliber players. The category I’d especially keep an eye on is the free throw line. They love to drive to the basket and put tons of pressure on the rim, and the last thing the Bulls want to do is let them start to dictate the pace of play from the charity stripe.
Cavaliers: The Bulls know firsthand how dangerous this Cavs team can be. Currently third in the East with a record of 22-12, Cleveland completely embarrassed Chicago during their home opener with a dominant 128-96 victory. For the Bulls to even think about keeping this game close, it will have to start on the glass. They were outrebounded 48-35 in the first meeting, and this helped lead to a 22-6 advantage in the fastbreak points category.