The Bulls look to recover from a blowout loss last night against the Clippers. They face a promising young Utah team tonight.
Even though it was a blowout, Jimmy Butler still managed to play 37 minutes last night. Besides Butler, the rest of the Bulls had manageable minutes thanks to Hoiberg throwing in the towel midway through the fourth, so hopefully fatigue should not be too much of a factor.
Niko is still out for this one, so our starters should be:
PG - Rose | SG - Butler | SF - Moore | PF - Gibson | C - Gasol
Scouting the Enemy
The Jazz, who sit at 21-25, last played on Friday night so they should be well-rested for this contest. They're dead last in pace and 29th in transition baskets, so the Bulls will need to avoid slowing the game down because that's exactly what Utah wants. It will be a struggle to score over Utah's bigs in a half court setting.
Utah has the #9 offense in the league, led by Gordon Hayward's 20 points per game. They have a very balanced attack though - 5 players on their squad are scoring 12 or more points per game (Hayward, Favors, Burks, Hood, and Burke). It's one of the supposed flaws of this squad - that they have some good punch on offense but lack a go-to guy to get those tough buckets in crunch time. It will be a good test for the Bulls' defense, which remains in the top 10.
Utah's backcourt of Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert are also going to pose a difficult challenge for the Bulls. The Bulls split the series against the Jazz last year (1-1), and Pau Gasol really struggled in that 2nd game against Gobert's length.
Rodney Hood is another fun player to watch for the Jazz. He's a high volume 3 point shooter that had a very hot January, as profiled by Today's Fastbreak. He's been averaging 23 points per game in his last 5 contests. Bulls will have to keep an eye on him to chase him off the line.
Utah opened as a 1 point favorite in Vegas this morning, shifting to a massive -5 by tipoff. That's a really bad sign for the Bulls, as the gamblers have a lot of faith in Utah pulling this one out. Buuuut I don't think anybody really has a great read on these Bulls, so let's hope we get the good Bulls tonight.