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Chicago Bulls at Portland Trail Blazers: Preview, Injury Report, and Open Thread

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What did the Bulls learn from Monday?

Portland Trail Blazers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chicago Bulls (6-13) at Portland Trail Blazers (7-12)

9:00 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago

Injury Report:

Add Chandler Hutchison to the Bulls injuries, as he suffered a shoulder sprain in the Warriors game 2 nights ago. Plus Tomas Satoransky is questionable with a toe injury.

The Last Time:

Just four days ago, the Chicago Bulls fell 117-94 to a flailing Portland Trail Blazers team. The 35-year-old Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points to lead all scorers. Anthony’s production was largely the product of the Bulls much maligned blitzing defense, a defensive strategy head coach Jim Boylen recently said he will continue to stick with. The Bulls players don’t seem like they love it. Per The Athletic.

“We’re always in rotations,” LaVine said after Tuesday’s loss. “That’s our defensive scheme. I think we just got to play it.”

The Bulls were outrebounded 55-37 in this game.

Whenever the Bulls play the same opponent twice within close proximity of each other, it’s always interesting to see which coach wins the adjustment battle.

Preview:

Zach LaVine has his issues.

His offensive game hasn’t evolved, he’s not scoring very efficiently this season, and his defense is as bad as advertised.

He deserves a lot of the criticism he receives.

But to his credit, he’s risen to the occasion in times of adversity and at some points this season he has been the only thing keeping this team somewhat afloat.

After a forgettable performance against the Miami Heat where Boylen made an example of him by yanking him from the game early in the first quarter, he responded with 49 points and a game winner against the Charlotte Hornets.

In the Bulls pathetic effort against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, he was one of two players for the Bulls that actually came to play (the other was Tomas Satoransky) scoring 36 points on 13-for-24 from the field.

Although it hasn’t manifested in consistently good play, LaVine’s resiliency has been impressive this season on at least a few occasions.

Which brings me to my next point...the Bulls have some likeable guys on their roster. LaVine seems like a good guy and he’s a super fun guy to watch with all his fancy dunks. Lauri Markkanen is a good kid. Ryan Arcidiacono and Kris Dunn give off early 2010s Bulls vibes to a degree with how hard they play. Wendell Carter Jr. may be the best player on the team and we can all feel for him given how badly Boylen has misused him this season.

But Bulls fans are in this weird situation where you almost don’t want this team to start winning. Because if they start winning and sneak into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (which probably means 35-38 wins, plus is making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference even an accomplishment this year?), this gets spun into a successful season. Which means nothing changes. The people who are responsible for what the Bulls have become retain their power and the Bulls ultimate ceiling is probably mediocrity.

The Bulls are currently on 24-win pace so even if they win 30 games and don’t make the playoffs the narrative still gets spun as they improved as the season progressed.

Besides the Eastern Conference Finals appearance season and the following season before Derrick Rose blew out his knee, the Bulls haven’t been serious contenders in the last 20 years. So, in those 20 years the Bulls made one Eastern Conference Finals appearance where they lost 4-1. Unacceptable for a big market team with a nationally recognized brand.

And through it all the same guys have run the team.

Winning solves nothing this season. It gives the guys in charge another way to spin the rebuild as headed in the right direction when it is not.

How bad do the Bulls have to be to institute change? How much drama and turmoil needs to happen for change to occur?

I’d rather find out the answer to these questions than watch the Bulls win 35 games, sneak into the eighth spot, get swept out of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks, and then have the Bulls brass spin it like everything is all right.

Stat:

Man, if you think Jim Boylen is bad the Bulls used to have it so much worse.

Tim Floyd was 49-190 as head coach of the Bulls. That is a 20.5 percent winning percentage. Boylen has won 29.9 percent of his games as head coach.

Quote:

It’s still crazy that Boylen said this. Per Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

“There’s no shame in this game tonight,” Boylen said. “We played hard. And we competed. And we battled.”

Tweet You Need To See:

Will Perdue is the hero we didn’t know we needed.