Back in Boston, Caruso Plans to Play, Where Do LaVine and Donovan Stand? And Other Bulls Bullets

Not only could the Chicago Bulls grab their first four-game winning streak of the season tonight, but they could also win the regular season series against Boston 3-1.

I know, I still can’t believe it either!

  • Nothing underscores the inconsistency of this Bulls season more than their 2-1 record against the Boston Celtics. The fact they have been one of the only squads to consistently hang with the top team in the Eastern Conference is somewhat mind-boggling, especially when we consider that both wins came by double figures. In their last matchup against the Celtics, Chicago held the NBA’s best offense to just 43.7 percent shooting from the field and forced 15 TOVs. It was one of their best defensive showings of the season, and it happened to be coupled with a 51.7 percent shooting display from the field with all five starters finishing with 10+ points.
  • Nikola Vucevic has feasted on the Celtics’ small-ball lineups thus far. The big man has averaged 18.0 points, 16.0 rebounds, and 4.7 assists over the three games while shooting 57.5 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from downtown. I still fully anticipate the Bulls will get him involved early and often again, but we also can’t go into tonight expecting the same outcome. Boston welcomed Robert Williams back into the rotation a couple of weeks back. The gifted defender has only averaged about 19 minutes per game off the bench, averaging 7.9 points and 7.7 rebounds. But, even if they don’t ramp up his workload tonight, he’ll undoubtedly give Vucevic a much tougher time than he’s grown used to.
  • While Williams is expected to play tonight, we can’t say the same about reigning DPOY Marcus Smart. Boston currently has Smart listed as doubtful due to a knee contusion. Smart hasn’t proven particularly problematic for the Bulls this season, but he did knock down multiple 3-pointers in each of the previous three games. Not to mention, whether it be guarding Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan, we all know Smart has the defensive versatility to potentially give both some trouble.
  • As for Chicago, all eyes will be on the availability of Alex Caruso and Javonte Green. I got to give the team a lot of credit for holding down the fort defensively during crunch time in their absence, but there is no question that playing arguably the best offense in the NBA will be that much easier with those two on the floor. The Bulls have been just the 23-ranked defensive team over the last 11 games with both Green and Caruso missing time.
  • Fortunately, Caruso told NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson that he does plan to take the court tonight. Let’s hope the medical staff agrees!
  • Guess who is the third-best 3-pointer shooting in the league over the last 15 games? Keep chucking them up, Zachary!
  • When Billy Donovan benched Zach LaVine at the end of a close loss to the Orlando Magic, we knew there would be tension inside the locker room. The question, however, was how long that tension would last. According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, LaVine still hasn’t forgotten that shocking decision by his head coach, and their relationship remains “somewhat strained.” While this would normally raise some concerns, Cowley also proceeds to go on to say that the relationship is still “viable” and that there shouldn’t be any long-term ramifications. You can check out that full post here.
  • Honestly, I don’t think LaVine should put that night behind him. Regardless of what you think about the specific decision made, I think we can all agree that the best thing to do is turn it into motivation. LaVine has done exactly that in recent weeks and is fresh off a combined 77 points over his last two games. If his goal was to remind his head coach of why he should never ride the bench, he’s accomplished that.
  • If you want a fun conversation on the Bulls’ win streak, give the latest episode of Bulls Gold a listen! Thanks to Salim and Edward for having me on!
  • Give an assistant job or something as a thank you.
  • I love some internal development!
  • written by

    Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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