Bulls Weekly Preview: Magic, Pacers, Bucks – February 13-19, 2023
Last week went just about as bad as possible for the Bulls. Sure, things started out fine with a win over the Spurs, but then came three straight losses – all of which were caused by 4th Quarter collapses – and a complete dud at the deadline.
In the last three games of the week against the Grizzlies, Nets, and Cavaliers, the Bulls were outscored 32-14, 37-21, and 28-15. Two 4th Quarters with 15 points or less. Not Great!
The Bulls find themselves tied for 10th in the East with the Raptors and 5.5 games behind the Heat for the 6th seed. So unless there’s a serious run ahead it’ll likely be the play-in tournament or no playoffs at all. Oh and apparently Russell Westbrook might be on the way.
Three games this week before All-Star Weekend, two of which are very winnable. Let’s see if the Bulls can correct those 4th Quarter woes and if any help actually comes via the buyout market (would Westbrook even count as help?).
Meet the Opponents:
2/13 vs Magic: It should be their easiest matchup of the week … what could go wrong?
2/15 vs Pacers: They’ve lost 15 of their last 17, so don’t make this harder than it has to be.
2/16 vs Bucks: The TNT Bulls are back, baby!!
Bulls Projected Lineup
- Ayo Dosunmu
- Zach LaVine
- DeMar DeRozan
- Patrick Williams
- Nikola Vučević
Opponent Projected Lineup
- Markelle Fultz
- Gary Harris
- Franz Wagner
- Paolo Banchero
- Wendell Carter Jr
- Tyrese Haliburton
- Andrew Nembhard
- Buddy Hield
- Aaron Nesmith
- Myles Turner
- Jrue Holiday
- Grayson Allen
- Pat Connaughton
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Brook Lopez
Unavailable/Injured (at the start of the week)
Magic: R.J. Hampton OUT (team decision)
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton QUESTIONABLE (thigh), Myles Turner QUESTIONABLE (back)
Bucks: Bobby Portis QUESTIONABLE (knee), Khris Middleton QUESTIONABLE (knee)
Bulls: 54.9 EFG% (12th), 13.8 TOV% (10th), 23.4 OREB% (28th), 22.4 FTA/GM (23rd)
Magic: 53.4% EFG% (21st) 15.1 TOV% (26th), 27.7 OREB% (17th), 25.6 FTA/GM (5th)
Pacers: 53.5 EFG% (20th), 14.9 TOV% (22nd), 28.9 OREB% (11th), 23.5 FTA/GM (15th)
Bucks: 54.2 EFG% (14th), 14.8 TOV% (20th), 29.5 OREB% (9th), 22.8 FTA/GM (22nd)
What to Watch For
Bulls: Just when I thought the Bulls couldn’t get any more frustrating, they go and have a week like last week. Three straight road losses, two of which they failed to score 90 points for the game and 20 points in the 4th Quarter. It’s just maddening at this point how badly the offense crumbles down the stretch in close games. The Bulls really should be able to pull off a 2-1 week, and anything less would be a major disappointment. Keep an eye on the buyout market, I’d expect an addition there soon. If it’s Russell Westbrook, fine. He does turn the ball over a lot, but he plays hard and might be able to provide some sort of spark. At this point, why not give it a shot?
Magic: The Bulls took care of business in Orlando a couple of weeks ago, and they really should again tonight. The Magic have some fun young pieces headlined by Paolo Banchero, who’s living up to all the hype as the #1 overall pick. They’re playing some decent basketball as of late too with a 4-3 record in their last seven games with wins over the Nuggets and 76ers. Orlando might not be the best team, but they play hard. If the Bulls try and sleepwalk their way through this one, the Magic can catch them.
Pacers: The Pacers have gotten healthy getting Tyrese Haliburton back, but it hasn’t really helped them much. They’ve lost 15 of their last 17 (one of their two wins came against the Bulls!) and are falling out of the play-in race. Defensively, Indiana has been brutal during this stretch. Just once in the last 17 games have they been able to hold a team to under 110 points.
Bucks: For the second straight Thursday the Bulls find themselves on TNT for a national broadcast. Hopefully this time they don’t wait until midway through the 3rd Quarter to hit a three! Milwaukee has won 10 in a row and 12 of their last 13. They now sit just 1.5 games behind Boston for the top spot in the East. The Bulls are 2-0 against Milwaukee so far this season, but they haven’t gone up against the Bucks with Khris Middleton in the lineup yet. Both wins have been headlined by signature performances from DeMar. He put up 36 and 42 points in the two wins over Milwaukee. After this one, it’s the All-Star break, and the Bulls probably could use it. Let’s try and head into the break with some momentum.