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Chicago Bulls (3-16) vs. Denver Nuggets (11-9)
Pepsi Center; Denver
8:00 p.m. CDT
Nuggets Injury Report:
Wilson Chandler is out with a lingering lower back issue. Paul Millsap will miss several months after undergoing reconstructive surgery to repair ligaments in his left wrist on Sunday.
Bulls Injury Report:
Some good news on the injury front this afternoon: David Nwaba is back active.
Zach Lavine, Nikola Mirotic, and Cameron Payne are all still inactive, with the latter frequently impressing with his impeccable sense of style on Instagram. The team won’t have the luxury of the other two cheering from the bench, as they stayed behind to practice with the Windy City Bulls of the G-League. Mirotic addressed the media yesterday for the first time since his infamous fight with teammate Bobby Portis. Here’s the full video.
Denver Nuggets shooting guard Gary Harris could have been a Chicago Bull.
But in a draft night trade (revisionist reporting trending towards Tom Thibodeau outright doing this behind Gar’s back at this rate), the Bulls packaged two first round picks that wound up being Harris and Jusuf Nurkic (and then some) to obtain Doug McDermott at the No. 11 pick. The rest is history; McDermott traded away after 2.5 underwhelming seasons in Chicago for three third stringers only one of whom has stuck around in Chicago.
Meanwhile, Harris has become a 14.3 point per game scorer and shoots the ball at a 44 percent clip from the 3-point line and a 49.8 percent clip overall. He’s also only 23 years old and has improved statistically over his four seasons in the league.
Harris leads an up-and-coming Denver Nuggets team that sits pretty in the sixth slot in the Western Conference playoff race. The headliner of the team is 22-year-old center Nikola Jokic who has averaged 15.9 points per game this season on a ridiculously efficient 51.1 percent shooting from the field. His ability to stretch the floor at the center position will put tremendous pressure on Robin Lopez who has struggled defensively against stretch big men throughout his career.
Sticking with 3-point shooters is another key for the Bulls if they want to win this game. The Nuggets have four regular contributors (Harris, Will Barton, Jokic, and Emmanuel Mudiay) who shoot the ball above a 40 percent clip from beyond the arc.
From a matchup standpoint, Kenneth Faried will present a challenge for Lauri Markkanen. Faried has slotted into the starting role on this team since Paul Millsap went out with a wrist injury. Faried is a high-energy, strong player and Markkanen’s ability to match his physicality on the boards and in the post will provide a glimpse into where another dimension of his game is at.
The Bulls will look to snap their current six-game losing streak which has vaulted the team to an NBA-worst 3-16 record. According to BasketballReference.com, the Bulls haven’t won in Denver since 2006.
As always, the ideal outcome for this game is a competitive loss to see some kind of development from the Bulls youngsters. The Nuggets are coming off their lowest scoring game and second-worst shooting night (by field goal percentage) of the season after a 106-77 trouncing at the hands of the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, so they may have extra motivation in the game against the Bulls tonight to alleviate any trap game concern.