It’s finally here. The 2018-19 Chicago Bulls season officially tips-off tonight at 6pm against the New Orleans Pelicans. Unlike last year, where we knew Chicago would be terrible and tank for a higher draft pick, this season brings some mystery to it. There have been new additions in Jabari Parker, Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison. Although we saw the rookie duo in Summer League with WCJ really raising some eyebrows with his play, it’s going to be a lot different than Vegas.
Chicago’s coming into this game banged up. Earlier this week Fred Hoiberg announced that Denzel Valentine will be missing a couple of weeks due to an ankle injury. The real crushing blow came late Friday night when it was announced that Lauri Markkanen is going to miss 6-8 weeks of action with a right elbow injury. It really sucks for an injury to come to the second year big man so near the beginning of the season. Now we are going to have to wait a while to see Markkanen back in action and how he fits with Carter Jr. in the front court. It’s also a bit concerning the injury occurred to his shooting elbow too.
The absences will affect Chicago’s rotation and starting lineup. Parker slides to the power forward spot with Justin Holiday taking his place at the 3. Despite it being just pre-season, this game is going to give us a sneak peek at Hoiberg’s rotation. The Bulls head coach has indicated that the starters will be playing twenty minutes, and beyond them there are many young players on this roster with something to prove.
The Bulls opponent is the New Orleans Pelicans. Behind superstar Anthony Davis, New Orleans had a solid season, making the playoffs and in the dispatching the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round in a four game sweep. They weren’t as successful against their next opponent as they ran into the ,Golden State Warriors and everyone knows how playoff series against the defending champs go.
There has been some changes to this Pelicans squad from last year. Two starters in DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo have left, But the Pelicans have made some interesting additions to their team. Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton, and Jahlil Okafor all signed with NO this summer. With Boogie gone, it will be interesting to see if the Pelicans can find a solid second scorer next to Anthony Davis. But for the front court of Chicago, it will be a challenge to try and slow down AD. The first real coaching decision Hoiberg’s has to make is who’s going to guard Davis.
Tonight is also going to be a reunion game for former Bull Nikola Mirotic, though he is reportedly unlikely to play tonight with achilles tendon soreness. Niko had one of the more bizarre experiences with the Bulls in his final season with the team. Nobody knows what kind of reception Mirotic will get when his name is announced. He had a very up and down career in Chicago but certainly had his moments and was great at stretching the floor. Never forget the annual “Mirotic Madness” games which were a treat to watch.
Let’s all enjoy the return of Bulls basketball!
Game Time : 6 PM CT
TV: NBC Sports Chicago and NBA TV