Bulls Weekly Preview: Hawks, Pacers, Hornets & Magic – January 23-29, 2023

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Bulls Weekly Preview: Hawks, Pacers, Hornets & Magic – January 23-29, 2023

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls are back stateside … and it’s time to make a run.

They are currently just two games out of the 8-seed and will face two of the teams that sit in front of them this week. Can the Bulls take advantage?

Meet the Opponents:

1/23 vs. Hawks: Can we just have a normal game that doesn’t end with a crazy buzzer-beater?

1/24 vs. Pacers: Fine by me If Tyrese Haliburton wants to take a few extra days to get that knee right!

1/26 vs. Hornets: Please don’t make this one harder than it has to be

1/28 vs Magic: Vooch > Wendell

Bulls Projected Lineup

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

Opponent Projected Lineup

Hawks:

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

Pacers:

  1. T.J. McConnell
  2. Andrew Nembhard
  3. Buddy Hield
  4. Aaron Nesmith
  5. Myles Turner

Hornets:

  1. Terry Rozier
  2. Gordon Hayward
  3. P.J. Washington
  4. Jalen McDaniels
  5. Mason Plumlee

Magic:

  1. Markelle Fultz
  2. Gary Harris
  3. Franz Wagner
  4. Paolo Banchero
  5. Wendell Carter Jr

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

Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE

Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton (knee) DOUBTFUL, Andrew Nembhard (illness) QUESTIONABLE

Hornets: Kelly Oubre Jr (hand) OUT, LaMelo Ball (ankle/wrist) QUESTIONABLE, Cody Martin (knee) QUESTIONABLE

Magic: Jonathan Isaac (knee, conditioning) QUESTIONABLE, Chuma Okeke (knee) QUESTIONABLE

Four Factors

Bulls: 55.1 EFG% (11th), 13.4 TOV% (8th), 23.3 OREB% (28th), 22.5 FTA/GM (24th)

Hawks: 53.4 EFG% (20th), 12.5 TOV% (2nd), 26.6 OREB% (21st), 21.6 FTA/GM (26th)

Pacers: 53.5 EFG% (17th), 15.1 TOV% (24th), 29.0 OREB% (12th), 23.8 FTA/GM (16th)

Hornets: 51.2 EFG% (29th), 13.3 TOV% (5th), 29.3 OREB% (10th), 23.4 FTA/GM (18th)

Magic: 53.4 EFG% (18th), 15.3 TOV% (26th), 27.3 OREB% (19th), 25.2 FTA/GM (10th)

What to Watch For…

Bulls: For starters, let’s congratulate DeMar on his 1,000th career game! It’s another great accolade to add to a Hall of Fame career. It’s a huge week for the Bulls, and an even bigger back-to-back stretch on Monday and Tuesday going up against the two teams they’re chasing for the 8th seed. Atlanta had won five in a row but just lost to Charlotte, and the Pacers have dropped seven straight and will likely be without Tyrese Haliburton Tuesday night. It feels like a 3-1 stretch this week can and should happen for the Bulls if they’re ever going to make a run and fully reach their potential.

Hawks: We know they can score. They’ve won five of six and over that stretch have scored 113+ points each game. We also know, like the Bulls, they can be wildly inconsistent at times (see their loss in Charlotte on Saturday). Dejounte Murray has been very hot from behind the arc over the last 10 games or so, we know what Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic can do from three, so it seems like perimeter defense and winning the battle on the boards might be a little important here. Good effort there, please!

Pacers: The Pacers have been a nice story this year and have absolutely been better than preseason expectations. That said, Tyrese Haliburton is out and the Pacers have really struggled since he’s been hurt dropping seven straight games. If Haliburton doesn’t play, and it’s unlikely he will, the Bulls have to win this one. Indiana has allowed 125+ points in four of their seven losses during this stretch, and 130+ in three of those stretches. That’s the type of team you’d like to play on the back end of a back-to-back.

Hornets: Don’t look now, but the Bulls are in the Top 10 for Three-Point Percentage in the month of January shooting 38% from beyond the arc in nine games. Charlotte is Bottom 10 in the league in Opponent Three-Point Percentage. Charlotte might still be without LaMelo Ball. He’s their best player and does a little bit of everything for them. Even if LaMelo is in the lineup, the Bulls need to win this one. These are the types of games the Bulls have struggled to show up for all season, let’s change that here.

Magic: Let’s have a night in this one, Vooch! Just so I don’t have to see a million tweets or hear over talk radio that Wendell is better than Vučević, I’d really like to see the Bulls’ big man have a night. The Magic are a bad rebounding team, they’re ranked in the bottom five in rebounding this month. Orlando is just 4-8 since Christmas including two 19+ point losses to Washington (I mean who loses to Washington, am I right? *laughs … cries*) and a 20+ loss to Detroit. Jonathan Isaac’s return should give them a boost, but like the Hornets, it’s a game the Bulls need to have. It’s another chance to flip the narrative of struggling against bad teams.