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Bulls vs. Suns injury report, game preview, lineups

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In first game after All-Star break, Bulls face a bad team that recently smoked them

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Suns (18-39) @ Bulls (28-29)

Game Time: 7:00 on Comcast Sports Network Chicago

Injury Report

Bulls

Dwyane Wade: Will return tonight from wrist injuries

Suns

None

Game Preview

The Phoenix Suns will trek to the United Center to take on the Bulls coming off of the All-Star Break. The break kind of stunk for Chicago, as we didn’t see much from Jimmy in the All-Star Game and GarPax traded away Taj and Doug McDermott for Cam Payne, Anthony Morrow, and Joffrey Lauvergne. Why they did this I have zero idea. We’ll hopefully get to see the new guys in action for the first time tonight. Lauvergne and Morrow are just rotation guys at best, but Payne hopefully can develop into a starting caliber point guard in time.

The Suns are always talked about as a team with lots of young talent, but they just never seem to get better and are one of the league’s worst teams. Devin Booker and Eric Bledsoe are both great guards and will do a lot of the scoring for the Suns tonight as they average a combined 42.7 PPG (Booker 21.1, Bledsoe 21.6.) Chicago will have their hands full in the backcourt and Robin Lopez will have to hold his own against Tyson Chandler, who is a monster on the glass. Outside of the core guys, nobody for the Suns really does anything special, and with Dwyane Wade returning tonight the Bulls should be just fine as long as they don’t lay an egg like they recently did in Phoenix.

Offensively, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade should have their way as Booker isn’t exactly an elite defender and Phoenix traded defensive stopper PJ Tucker yesterday to the Toronto Raptors. The Bulls have plenty of offensive liabilities now after trading away Gibson and McDermott, but this is a nice matchup for the Bulls to start off with getting acclimated to new people on the court. Also, Bobby Portis is expected to be inserted into the starting lineup. I’ve previously been really high on Portis and genuinely think that Bobby is going to thrive in the starting role. I expect him to put up a double-double and be extremely effective shooting from the outside.

3 Keys to the Game

Offensive Rebounding

The Bulls are really good offensive rebounding (although the loss of Gibson hurts this), and the Suns have Tyson Chandler, who’s averaging north of 11 rebounds a game this season. If Chicago finds away to effectively score second chance points, it will take a lot of the pressure off of the offense.

Stop Suns’ Others Guys

Obviously the backcourt for Phoenix is really good, and they score a lot of points. Bledsoe also knows how to generate points for Booker and the other guys in the offense with his passing. This feels like one of those games where you know that the guards for Phoenix are going to get there buckets, and that if you stop all of the other guys you’ll have a good chance to come out on top in the end.

Bulls’ Bench

Thanks to the trade, we’re going to see some different rotations from the Bulls. Rajon Rondo will remain the backup point guard, but Denzel Valentine should play more with McDermott gone. The roles of the new guys are unclear, but perhaps we’ll see them get some minutes tonight.

Prediction

I think that the Bulls are going to be a lot better than we all expect them to be after this trade and will start off the second half of the season with a bang against the Suns. Phoenix won’t get enough out of the backcourt to win this one, but they’ll be competitive.

My Pick: Bulls by 7