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Bulls vs. Blazers preview: West coast trip begins with a tough test

5 straight road games with a clash in Portland

Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Bulls are 0-3 to start the new year and things are not looking up. In the Bulls most recent game, they were in it against the Brooklyn Nets for the first half, then the Bulls completely collapsed offensively and the Nets ran away with it. Chicago only scored 18 points in the 4th as Jim Boylen began waving the white flag halfway through the final frame.

Things won’t get any easier for Chicago as they head West to face a murders row of opponents. Tonight’s opponent will be the Portland Trail Blazers, currently 7th in the conference at a record of 24-17. Given how close the conference is in terms of each team’s record, a win could be big for them, as they are only a half a game off the 4th place Clippers and 1.5 games off the Thunder.

Portland will be coming into this matchup having won 4 of their last 5, they are also 16-7 at home.

In their most recent win, they used a balanced offensive effort to beat the New York Knicks 111-101. There were six Blazers who scored in double digits with center Jusuf Nurkic leading the way in scoring. The big man scored 20 points in 19 minutes and grabbed 8 rebounds in what was his 4th straight game in scoring 20+. Wendell Carter Jr. will have a lot on his hands defensively, and not getting into foul trouble will be key. Nurkic has been living at the line in his past four games, shooting 37 free throw attempts during that stretch.

The even bigger worry for the Bulls defensively will be the duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Both scored 17 points against the Knicks and are averaging 26.2 and 20.8 points per game respectively. Chicago will really have to try and limit Lillard’s from shooting too many 3-pointers as he’s been hitting them at a good percentage of 38.6%.

For this game, the Bulls seem to be fully healthy (outside of Denzel Valentine of course) now with the return of Bobby Portis. In terms of the rotation, Boylen announced that Shaq Harrison will still be the backup SF tonight. As of now it looks like Jabari Parker is still not in the rotation.

As for Portland, they will be without Moe Harkless who has a left knee injury.

Game time: 9 PM CT