Bulls Weekly Preview: Celtics, Wizards, Thunder, and Warriors – January 9-15, 2022

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Bulls Weekly Preview: Celtics, Wizards, Thunder, and Warriors – January 9-15, 2022

Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls shocked everyone with an 8-3 stretch to re-enter the Play-In Tournament mix.

Will the team’s winning ways translate into this week or will they slip back into their old ways?

Meet the Opponents:

  • 1/9 vs. Celtics: Beat us once, shame on you. Beat us twice, shame on me. Beat us three times, HOW!?
  • 1/11 vs. Wizards: We’ll knock you out of the Play-In.
  • 1/13 vs. Thunder: Remember when we beat you? That was fun.
  • 1/15 vs. Warriors: No Steph … but does it really matter?

Bulls Projected Lineup

1. Ayo Dosunmu
2. Zach LaVine
3. DeMar DeRozan
4. Patrick Williams
5. Nikola Vučević

Opponent Projected Lineup

Celtics:

1. Payton Pritchard
2. Derrick White
3. Jaylen Brown
4. Jayson Tatum
5. Al Horford

Wizards:

1. Monte Morris
2. Corey Kispert
3. Kyle Kuzma
4. Kristaps Prozingis
5. Daniel Gafford

Thunder:

1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
2. Josh Giddey
3. Lu Dort
4. Jalen Williams
5. Kenrich Williams

Warriors:

1. Donte DiVincenzo
2. Jordan Poole
3. Andrew Wiggins
4. Draymond Green
5. Kevon Looney

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

Celtics: Marcus Smart DOUBTFUL (ankle)

Wizards: Bradley Beal OUT (hamstring)

Thunder: Aleksej Pokusevski OUT (leg), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl OUT (ankle), Ousmane Dieng OUT (wrist), Chet Holmgren OUT (foot)

Warriors: Steph Curry PROBABLE (shoulder), James Wiseman OUT (ankle), Jonathan Kuminga OUT (foot), JaMychal Green OUT (leg)

Four Factors

•   Bulls: 55.2 EFG% (10th), 13.6 TOV% (9th), 23.6 OREB% (28th), .264 FTA RATE (19th)

•   Celtics: 56.7 EFG% (3rd), 13.5 TOV% (6th), 24.6 OREB% (26th), .260 FTA RATE (21st)

•   Wizards: 54.3 EFG% (15th), 14.0 TOV% (11th), 26.3 OREB% (22nd), .266 FTA RATE (16th)

•   Thunder: 52.8 EFG% (22nd), 13.5 TOV% (5th), 28.4 OREB% (14th), .247 FTA RATE (25th)

•   Warriors: 56.1 EFG% (5th), 16.1 TOV% (29th), 26.5 OREB% (20th), .221 FTA RATE (30th)

What to Watch For …

Bulls: Has one of the NBA’s most dynamic scoring duos returned to form? To no surprise, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan have been instrumental in getting this Bulls team back on track. The two enter the week fresh off a performance where they combined for 71 points on 58 percent shooting from the field. Over the team’s last 11 games, they have each ranked among the NBA’s top-5 total point scorers. While it would be silly for us to expect the same kind of production we saw against a relatively porous Utah Jazz defense, it does feel like these two have re-established how to best play alongside one another. With a lighter stretch of the schedule coming up, let’s hope that leads to even more W’s.

Celtics: The East’s top seed and reigning champs have somehow dropped two of three games to the Chicago Bulls. They have repeatedly struggled to score efficiently against this team, and they have struggled even more to post a competitive effort on the glass. There is no question the Bulls will head into this game with the size advantage again, but it may not be as advantageous as it has been. Big man Robert Williams returned to the rotation since these two last played. While he’s not back in the starting lineup, he has provided nearly 8 rebounds off the bench to go along with 1.3 blocks per game. His mere presence will undoubtedly limit the effectiveness of both Vucevic and Drummond (who combined for an absurd 25 rebounds in their last meeting.

Wizards: One night they’re beating the 76ers or Bucks, the next they’re losing to the Magic or Thunder. A lot like the Bulls, the Wizards have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the NBA this season. But that can’t send Chicago into a false sense of optimism. Despite not having Beal in their last battle with Chicago, they almost pulled off the victory thanks to a well-rounded scoring effort that saw all five starters enter double figures. Whether it be Kyle Kuzma or Monte Morris or Kristaps Prozingis, this team has several savvy veterans who know how to take advantage of a sleeping team.

Thunder: The Bulls saw at the end of November just how annoying the Thunder can be. While they may not have the talent advantage, the Thunder play with as much heart and hustle as any team in the league (Jim Boylen would be proud). Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the catalyst for all of that, as the 24-year-old point guard is averaging 30.9 points with 5.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Add in the recent strong two-way play of rookie Jalen Williams, and I have no doubt that this Thunder team can catch the Bulls off guard again if they don’t show up with a killer instinct.

Warriors: Before their game on Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors upgraded Stephen Curry to probable. So … yeah … that’s scary. All the Warriors might need to finally hit their stride is the return of their HOFer, especially with All-Star Andrew Wiggins also making his return last week. Other than those two, however, the Bulls must keep an eye on Jordan Poole. He completely destroyed Chicago when these two played in early December, scoring 30 points off the bench behind seven 3-pointers.



Author: Elias Schuster

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