6 p.m., NBC Chicago Sports Network
Cristiano Felicio and Lauri Markkanen are both probable to play tonight. The Bulls have ruled out Kris Dunn as he continues to rehab his toe injury. There’s no official status out on him yet, but Zach LaVine will likely miss another game with the knee tendinitis that continues to plague him.
The Magic are another tanking team with a ‘Gone with the Wind’ length injury report:
Orlando has recently decided to shut down Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross for the remainder of the season with knee injuries.
Wing player Jonathon Simmons is listed as doubtful with a wrist injury. Rookie Jonathan Isaac will play tonight after missing the last three games with a strained left foot, but will be on one of those dreaded minutes restrictions (about 20 minutes). Wing Wesley Iwundu will play tonight after missing the Magic’s last game with an upper respiratory infection.
Because the Bulls are awful at tanking, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ve beaten a fellow tanking partner in the Magic all three times they’ve played against each other this season.
In their first matchup on Nov. 3, the Bulls outscored the Magic by 23 points in the second half to run away with a 105-83 victory in Orlando. The Bulls had seven players score in double figures in that game.
The second game against the Magic was the final victory in the Bulls inexplicable seven-game winning streak during the “Niko’s back” era of the season.
When the urgency to tank really begin to heat up in February, the Bulls choked away another game by beating the Magic 105-101 on Feb. 12. Zach LaVine swiped an inbounds pass in the final moments of this one and went uncontested for a dunk to give the Bulls a late lead as Chicago survived after blowing an 18-point fourth quarter lead.
So, on to some brief actual analysis. How do the Bulls beat the Orlando Magic tonight?
With Fournier out and Simmons doubtful, the Magic’s frontcourt players do most of the damage in the scoring department. Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon combine for over 35 points per contest. Bobby Portis, Lauri Markkanen, Noah Vonleh, and Cristiano Felicio matching Gordon’s physicality inside and being able to stick with Vucevic as he tries to stretch the floor all night will go a long way towards slowing down what the Magic try to do offensively.
But, we don’t necessarily want that to happen. So, how do the Bulls lose against a Magic team that has lost nine of its last 11 games and has no incentive to win tonight either?
Rumor has it that there’s a beach in Miami that may make a certain group of basketball players play a little worse than they otherwise would have on this Friday...
Or the Bulls can just skip the partying, and lay out on the beach for five hours and let the sun zap them of their energy. Either way, they must find a way to lose tonight.