With less than a week before the regular season tips off, it’s time to wrap up the preseason.
Wednesday night featured a great performance by Chicago as they played their best game of the exhibition season. Zach LaVine looked as explosive as ever and Bobby Portis continued to shine. The Bulls are aiming for a performance similar to that, as Fred Hoiberg is running with the same starters,
As for their opponent tonight, the Denver Nuggets, last season ended in heartbreak. After battling throughout the season they came up just short of the playoffs, losing a winner take all game for the 8th seed against the Minnesota Timberwolves on the final day of the regular season. Still, it was a positive year as a lot of young players flourished and the core flashed some potential of being a scary team down the line. At 46 wins, it was the most they have had in a single season since 2012.
The Nuggets have had a very good preseason thus far, going 2-1 with their only loss coming on Tuesday to the Clippers. It was a weird a game where the Denver starters played only 12 minutes and the bench players got a really extended look. This could mean that we could see a lot of Denver’s starters in this game. With players like Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Paul Millsap, the Bulls defense will have their hands full. Given the issues Chicago has had on the defensive end, Denver could put up a ton of points in this game.
There should be some interesting matchups. LaVine and Kris Dunn will be playing across the duo of Harris and Murray. For Dunn, trying to stop Murray will be another tall task for the Bulls best perimeter defender. After holding Victor Oladipo to 12 points a couple of days ago, let’s see if Dunn can try and keep the sharpshooter in check. Biggest worry will be to not give Murray any air space near the three-point line. Get caught napping off the ball or give Murray too much room and he’ll splash a three-pointer in your face.
Wendell Carter Jr. will have to deal with Jokic, who is one of the more polarizing players in the NBA. Although he isn’t as aggressive on offense as he should be, Jokic can still put up monster numbers. Not only is he an efficient scorer but he can also set up his teammates for easy shots. Like Dunn, WCJ is going to have to be alert on defense at all times. But the rookie can take advantage of Jokic’s lack of defense and could have an advantage on the boards.
Another storyline will be how Jabari Parker handles coming off the bench. So far he’s had interesting responses about his role on the team, while Fred Hoiberg is doing damage control.
Fred Hoiberg said he met with Jabari Parker again before Friday shootaround to reiterate importance of Parker's role as facilitator for 2nd unit. Parker said Thursday he wasn't really "given any reason" for change, which contradicted what Hoiberg said/did on Weds in telling him.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 12, 2018
Injury wise, it’s the same for the Bulls as it’s been all preseason. Denzel Valentine and Lauri Markkanen are still out with injuries. Everyone else on the roster is healthy and should be available for this game. As for the Nuggets, they are still missing their first round pick in Michael Porter Jr., as he continues to heal his injured back which kept him out for most of his college season at Missouri.
Game Time: 7 PM CT
TV: NBC Sports Chicago