After impressively sweeping the L.A. series in a back-to-back, the Bulls got one measly day off before encountering their next Western Conference foe in Portland.
The Trail Blazers are having a season that seems worse than it is. That feeling is probably due to the internal pressure on that team to make a deep playoff run with their core after so many early-round exits. The Bulls meanwhile get to ride the good vibes of low expectations, nice!
But objectively it is still a disappointment for the Blazers to see themselves at one game under .500 with a 7-8 record. They ARE 6-1 at home, though, where their ORTG goes from 104.7 away to 115.6 at home, and defensively that rating goes up from 116.2 on the road to 103.3 at home. That’s pretty weird! Probably not that significant, at least not as significant as those drastic statistical disparities would suggest.
Even when things have gone right, like in their defensive performance in a win over the Raptors 2 nights ago, there is some strife, as starters Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington were benched in the fourth quarter.
That could be a catalyst for them, whether it results in a starting lineup change or not (it isn’t happening tonight, from what I can tell), but it could all be moot as Damian Lillard may miss this game as he’s trying to play through a nagging abdominal injury.
But there are some matchup problems team-wide (if Lillard plays) to look out for. The Blazers put up a ton of threes (5th in 3PAr). They have Nurkic inside who can explode for a big game here and there...though he hasn’t scored more than 17 points since the first game of the season. They are 10th in offensive rebounding and 5th in defensive rebounding, so the short slappy grabby Bulls will have a tough test in winning that battle.
While the Bulls have had a couple letdowns this season they have been very few. Especially when knowing they are missing their own key players, this doesn’t look like a squad that takes an opponent for granted. Still, it’s getting deep in the road trip, and it’s only natural to not play balls-out for every night on the schedule. I don’t even think there’s any hometown/revenge angle in this one like the games in L.A..
Mentioned Lillard’s status, and Norm Powell is also questionable.
For the Bulls, there are some new additions but neither look to be serious. Javonte Green is quesitonable with an ankle sprain, and Alex Caruso is probably with a wrist contusion.
Game Time: 9pm central on NBC Sports Chicago