7 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago
Bulls General Manager Gar Forman hasn’t shown his face much this season, maybe because he was busy creating a Voodoo doll that he is now using to curse each team the Bulls play with a litany of injuries?
Seriously though, what is going on?
This is the up-to-date injury report the Magic have sent out for Wednesday's game in Chicago. QUESTIONABLE: Arron Afflalo (back spasms), Evan Fournier (sprained right ankle). OUT: Aaron Gordon (strained right calf), Terrence Ross (right knee).— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) December 19, 2017
The Bulls are healthy outside of Zach LaVine and Cameron Payne who continue to recover from their respective injuries.
Earlier in the season, the Orlando Magic pulled a similar stunt to what the Chicago Bulls are doing right now by winning eight of their first 12 games of the season in an exercise in overachievement.
However, the Magic came back to earth very quickly, losing their next nine games. After winning three of their next five games, the Magic again fell into another losing streak and come into Chicago having lost their last five contests.
If the Bulls aren’t careful, the Magic will be the next team they sneak past in the standings, as only one game separates the two teams. In fact, the Bulls are within two games of ascending all the way up to having just the tenth-worst record in the NBA. Is the pro-tanking crowd in panic mode yet?
Of course, the Bulls will extend the winning streak to seven games tonight behind the unconquerable Nikola Mirotic, his bash brother Bobby Portis, and the rest of the crew.
The Bulls second win of the season came on Nov. 3 at Orlando, coming commanding 105-83 fashion behind a balanced scoring attack that featured seven players scoring in double digits. This game was also one of the early David Nwaba coming out parties, as the guard had 16 points and five rebounds and affected the game on both ends. Though unlike that first meeting, the Magic will have Elfrid Payton and D.J. Augustin available tonight. In their absence, Shelvin Mack (the only other available point guard on the roster) dished out eight assists, but only had two points.
Mind you, all this came while Mirotic was still recovering from his facial injuries and while Portis was still serving his eight-game suspension. The Bulls won that game by 22, so with Mirotic and Portis back tonight they’ll probably win by over forty.
Without Aaron Gordon and with Evan Fournier questionable with a right ankle sprain, the Magic may lose their two leading scorers tonight. That will shift the scoring burden squarely on the shoulders of Chicago Bulls killer Nikola Vucevic who has averaged 17.7 points per game this season. He’s averaged 16.5 points on 49.4 percent from the field in his career against the Bulls.
Rookie Jonathan Isaac is an intriguing player for Orlando. Billed as having enormous upside defensively with a lot of question marks offensively, it isn’t surprising to see that he’s experienced growing pains offensively in his rookie season. With Gordon out, the Magic could thrust him into a starting role meaning he’d match up against Lauri Markkanen in a battle between the sixth and seventh picks in the 2017 NBA draft...but then the Bulls streak curse strikes again here:
Jonathan Isaac will continue to operate on a minutes restriction tonight. It's been bumped up to about 20 minutes, Frank Vogel said.— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) December 20, 2017
Going through the Magic lineup is all just a formality, because the Bulls can’t be stopped right now and will win this game by at least 30 points.
[hey, game previews are open again! Lots of games between now and the end of the month -yfbb]