It was an ok start to 2021 for the Chicago Bulls. Although they started off the new year by being blown out by the Milwaukee Bucks, they rebounded and got a victory against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night. They got 39 points from Zach LaVine and 23 from Coby White as they beat a Dallas team that was missing Luka Doncic. Still, it was a good win for the Bulls as it now makes it three wins out of their last four games. Chicago’s record now improves to 3-4 on the season and that puts them 11th in the Eastern Conference standings. They are currently tied with the Brooklyn Nets in terms of record and are only one game behind the 8th seed Atlanta Hawks. Granted, there is still a ton of basketball to be played.
Now Chicago embarks on a five game west coast road trip where they will be playing a gauntlet of tough teams. Four of them were playoff teams last season and all are going to be tough games for the Bulls. This is the just beginning of what looks to be a brutal January schedule for Chicago. Hopefully they can make some of these games competitive and even grab a win during one of these west coast games.
The Bulls first opponent will be the Portland Trail Blazers. They are 3-3 on the season although they have lost two of their previous three games. In the most recent game they played, they could only watch as Steph Curry lit them up for 62 points in route to a 137-122. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 60 points themselves but it wasn’t enough to stop an out of this world performance from Curry. Portland are currently 7th in the Western Conference standings and are 1.5 games back of the top seed.
This will be another test for Chicago’s backcourt. The Trail Blazers have one of the best guard combos in the league in Lillard and McCollum. Either of them can score 30 on any given night. Not only will Zach LaVine and Coby White have to provide an offensive spark for Chicago, they are going to have to step up on defensive end. The Bulls guards are still struggling in the pick and roll, especially when it comes to getting over screens. If this continues to happen against Portland, it could mean a big game for either of the Blazers guards.
Blazers, PnR Ball-Handler poss:— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) January 4, 2021
Freq - 20.6% (7th)
PPP - 1.14 (2nd)
eFG - 56.6% (2nd)
FT Freq - 14.2% (5th)
Score Freq - 46.8% (2nd)
Bulls defense, PnR Ball-Handler poss:
Freq - 20.3% (22nd)
PPP - 1.01 (26th)
eFG - 55% (27th)
FT Freq - 12.7% (25th)
Score Freq - 45.8% (28th)
Chicago will still be missing the same four players they didn’t have against either Milwaukee or Dallas. Chandler Hutchison and Tomas Satoransky tested positive for COVID-19 and are both currently self-isolating. Both Ryan Arcidiacano and Lauri Markkanen are still out as well. Given the latter duo traveled back with Satoransky and Hutchison from Washington D.C., it seems like they may miss this west coast trip as well.
As for Portland, they only have two guys on their injury report. Zach Collins is out after undergoing ankle surgery, and Rodney Hood is questionable with a strain in his left quad.
Game Time: 9PM CT, NBCSportsChicago and NBATV
Odds: The Blazers opened as a 10 point favorite but the line has moved slightly to Portland (-9.5). You can find over/under totals at 232, 232.5 or 233 (all via the Action Network).