NBC Sports Chicago, 7 p.m.
Bulls catch a break (again) as Kemba Walker is out with the Flu.
For the Bulls, Chandler Hutchison is out still. He played 39 minutes in the GLeague last night, but...played 39 minutes in the GLeague last night.
It’s time for game three of the toughest stretch of the season for the Chicago Bulls.
They are still looking for their first win. Monday was a mostly uncompetitive loss against the Eastern Conference best Milwaukee Bucks. On Thursday, the Bulls didn’t execute late against the Utah Jazz dropping a winnable 102-98 decision.
Now, the Bulls will get a bout with the Boston Celtics, the second best team in the Eastern Conference and the third best team in the NBA by record.
The Celtics have won seven of their last ten games but are on a back-to-back, coming off a hard-fought 109-106 win against the Atlanta Hawks yesterday evening where four of their starters played 35+ minutes.
Obviously given their record, the Celtics have talent across their roster. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who both have very typo-friendly first names, have evolved into 20+ point per game scorers. Kemba Walker has been as good as expected since coming over to Beantown from Charlotte over the summer.
When Gordon Hayward is your fourth scoring option, you know you have assembled a pretty good squad. Outspoken big man Enes Kanter has also made an impact since signing with the green guys in the summer. Per 36 minutes, he’s averaging a double-double (yes I know it’s a caveat because it’s per 36) and has injected an additional wave of energy to this Celtics squad.
The best feel-good story around this team right now is their resident 7-footer.
The 7-foot-6-inch Tacko Fall is one of the Celtic’s two-way player. He’s only played in three games at the NBA level, scoring 4.3 points and grabbing 2.3 rebounds. But, he has the Brian Scalabrine effect where fans go nuts whenever he gets into the game. In fact, Tacko is so loved in Beantown that he has received over 110,000 All-Star votes.
(It’s both a testament to his popularity and to the fact that the fan vote for NBA All-Star selections is a flawed system and should really be done away with or revised. )
The last Bulls game I went to was last season when Chicago clobbered a sleep-walking Celtics team 126-116 at the United Center. Can the Bulls harness some of that magic tonight and earn their first no-caveats attached, quality win of the season?
Very small sample size, but in one of their toughest two-game stretches of the season the Bulls defensive rating against the Bucks and Jazz the last two games was a combined 114.8. That was 21st best in the NBA during that stretch.
But in a similarly tough two-game stretch against the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 the Bulls defensive rating was 100 for those two games which was fifth-best in the NBA in that stretch.
Watching how the Bulls defensive rating fluctuates once the current four-game stretch ends will probably tell us a little bit more about whether the Bulls defense holds up against quality opponents or not.