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Bulls vs. Magic preview and thread: a sneaky must-win?

or revenge of Wendell Carter?

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NBA: Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, your spiraling Chicago Bulls, 1-5 in their last six games, are hoping to cut off a three-game losing streak against a very injured Orlando Magic squad at the United Center. Chicago has lost its last three contests by an average of 13.7 points a game.

Chicago’s starting lineup has been so ineffective that it appears quite possible head coach Billy Donovan makes a change, possibly to sub in vets for second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu and/or third-year power forward Patrick Williams. The remaining three untouchable starters, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, have seemed relatively disconnected from each other, and their poor defense all year has been a big part of large early deficits. On paper, they should all be able to feast tonight, even with “meh” chemistry.

The Bulls’ issues getting off to slow starts with their current first five and their recent shooting woes could be mitigated tonight by the fact that they’ll be playing against a rebuilding Magic club that will be missing two of its top four scorers this season in future All-Star rookie power forward Paolo Banchero and point guard Cole Anthony, plus several others. This is a golden opportunity for Chicago to get back on track and put another win on the board. Even if ex-Bull Wendell Carter Jr. has a Vengeance Game, Da Bulls should be able to survive this contest.

They better. Their next two games are against the East’s two best teams, on Monday the 12-3 Boston Celtics (although the Bulls have split a pair against them this season) and the 11-3 Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

Injury Report:

Patrick Williams (sprained right ankle) and Coby White (left quad contusion) both intend to play tonight. It’ll be Coby’s first game back after missing the Bulls’ last eight contests.

On the Orlando side, old pal Wendell Carter Jr. (plantar fascia strain) and Gary Harris (left meniscus tear) have both been listed as probable to suit up for the Magic. Carter intends to play against the team that drafted him. Harris has yet to suit up in a game all season.

Most importantly, the Magic’s best player, early Rookie of the Year favorite Paolo Banchero, is sidelined for at least the next week with a left ankle sprain. Guards Cole Anthony (torn right internal oblique) and Markelle Fultz (fractured left big toe) remain out. Bench big man Mo Wagner (right mid foot sprain) is out.

Game Time: 7PM CT

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Odds: The Bulls are nine-point favorites tonight (via the Action Network).