It’s been such a joy watching the Bulls these last few games. Not because they’re playing particularly well, but actually the opposite: they’re not playing that well, but winning anyway. Because they’re a very good team with true stars that can close games. It’s so goddamned calming!
DéjàRozan pic.twitter.com/DIGK7ADdUx— Leigh Ellis (@LeighEllis) January 2, 2022
These back-to-back wins reminded me of the inverse of so many Boylen-era games, where the Bulls ‘deserved’ to win but blew it to more capable teams. The home loss to a Damian Lillard bomb comes to mind, specifically.
So while I can say the Bulls haven’t played particularly well in these last few games, I’m not altogether worried about it. For one thing, they are missing their two best perimeter defenders that soak up a ton of minutes. And in that co-absence the Bulls are 21st in defense. But one of them, Lonzo Ball, is back tonight after exiting protocols.
And they’re playing the 28th ranked offense in the league, the crap-ass Orlando Magic. Orlando is one of the few truly tanking teams this season, currently in the 2nd lottery slot ‘behind’ only Detroit. They have a fascinating roster after blowing up their 8th-seed-level squad starting with trading Nikola Vucevic to the Bulls, with a majority of their non-injured roster on rookie contracts including Wendell Carter, who supposedly is doing well but nobody will (or frankly, should) notice.
They are young and bad, played an overtime game last night and have to travel, and (like all other teams now) injured/protocol’d. As a result, the Bulls are favored by two touchdowns.
For the Bulls: Lonzo back. And reportedly Billy Donovan will return to the sidelines tonight as well after missing the last 5 games (where interim Chris Fleming went 5-0!).
Caruso, Bradley, Green, remain out from last game, and unfortunately Tyler Cook suffered a bad ankle sprain in Washington and is now out for tonight.
Beyond their long-term injuries, the Magic are also missing Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, Robin Lopez, Chuma Okeke, while Mo Wagner is questionable.