A Chance to Gain Some Ground, Caruso Plans to Play, Improving Offense, and Other Bulls Bullets

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A Chance to Gain Some Ground, Caruso Plans to Play, Improving Offense, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

The last time the Chicago Bulls played a nine-win team … that team left the arena with 10 wins.

  • If the Bulls can lose to the Houston Rockets in blowout fashion, they can undoubtedly lose to the Detroit Pistons tonight. While the Central Divison rival is down their best player in Cade Cunningham, they’re still a roster jam-packed with youthful energy. Rookie Jaden Ivey is a monster athlete who is going to relentlessly attack this team downhill. Jalen Duren is a fearless big man who has sat second in the NBA in OREBs per game over the last 11 games. Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey are two young reserves who have only slipped into more of a rhythm as this season has gone on. So, similar to Houston, this team has plenty of young talent that is ready to take advantage of a sleeping team.
  • Chicago will also need to pay extra attention to veteran Bojan Bogdanovic. In the thick of a career year, the sharpshooting forward is averaging 20.7 points per game on a 40.4 percent clip from behind the arc. Bogdanovic has cooled down in recent weeks after an extremely hot start, but we all know how susceptible this team is to allowing someone to get in a rhythm from downtown.
  • If the Bulls can avoid shooting themselves in the foot against another below-.500 team, they could gain even more ground in the East standings. A Toronto loss to the Grizzlies last night officially gave the Bulls sole possession of the 10th seed and final Play-In Tournament spot by a half-game. Considering the Raptors have another tough game in Phoenix tonight, the door feels wide open for the Bulls to extend that slim lead. This could also go a long way in pushing them closer to the Atlanta Hawks, who have lost two in a row and sit just 1.5 games ahead of Chicago. The Lakers (x2), Warriors, Kings, Clippers, and Bucks will make up their next six games.
  • More on what the Bulls’ current place in the standings could mean for this front office …

  • Good news: Alex Caruso is in line to return to the floor tonight after a three-game absence. The Bulls’ top defender suffered both a concussion and a shoulder injury during the team’s buzzer-beating win over the Atlanta Hawks last week. The Bulls have still been able to pull off two impressive wins against the Knicks and Bucks without him – playing surprisingly sound defense in both games – but there is no question that having his leadership back on the floor will be a big help.

  • Patrick Williams has also been upgraded to “probable” for tonight’s game after coming into the day as “questionable.” The power forward suffered a left clavicle contusion, per the injury report, during the Bulls’ win over Milwaukee. Fortunately, it looks like he shouldn’t have to miss much time.
  • The Bulls’ defense has fallen off in recent games, but the offense is starting to come alive. Zach LaVine is a big reason for that, as he’s averaged 24.4 points and 4.8 assists on 50.0 percent shooting from the field over the last five games. The Bulls’ offense has now ranked top-10 over the previous 10 games.

  • Speaking of LaVine, ESPN’s Zach Lowe didn’t hesitate to call him out for his lackluster defense in his recent column. As more and more time goes by, the stellar defensive intensity that we saw during the Olympics feels like a farce. I still want to believe that there is a good two-way player somewhere in there, but the stats continue to say otherwise.
  • So if the Bulls refuse to tank will Vic demand a trade there?

  • Uh, wow.

  • ICYMI: The NBA handed out *a lot* of suspensions.

  • Get JF some more weapons!

  • Is it time?

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.