Tonight, your Chicago Bulls travel to State Farm Arena in the hopes of nabbing their second win against the Hawks in two weeks.
Things were feeling a lot sunnier the last time these teams faced off: All-Star Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan, February’s Eastern Conference Player of the Month, enjoyed yet another incredible offensive night (scoring 37 points on 15-of-21 shooting) and helped Chicago narrowly put the Hawks away in the fourth quarter for a 112-108 victory, the team’s sixth straight.
Now, Chicago is looking to get out of a two-game slump, after losing a close game at home against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies over the weekend and getting obliterated in South Beach by the Miami Heat on Tuesday.
Every game counts now for the Bulls, currently the second seed with a 39-23 record, but just 0.5 games ahead of the surging Philadelphia 76ers at present. Chicago sports a thin 4.5 game edge over the Toronto Raptors for the seventh seed!
With the team missing its best perimeter defenders, the club will most likely once again lean on offense, specifically from DeMVP, to bail it out. The team could use some added emphasis on three-point makes, having most recently converted a paltry 24% of its long-range attempts Tuesday against the Heat. All-Star guard Zach LaVine, who conceded he may need surgery during the 2022 offseason to address a pesky knee injury, will also do his darnedest to help shoulder the Bulls’ scoring burden, alongside center Nikola Vucevic. Vooch had modest scoring performances in both the Bulls’ recent two losses, averaging just 12.5 points.
That said, the 29-32 Hawks may be without both of their top own two threats on offense, in a bit of a break for the Bulls. 23-year-old All-Star point guard Trae Young, who leads the team with his 27.9 points a night, has been listed as questionable with a left ankle sprain. The Hawks have officially ruled 24-year-old power forward John Collins (second in scoring for Atlanta with his 16.8 points per game) out for the contest as he continues to recover from a right foot strain that also kept him sidelined against the Bulls last week.
Presumably Bogdan Bogdanovic will earn the starting nod in Young’s stead tonight, and Danilo Gallinari will continue to increase his touches as a starter with Collins unavailable.
Chicago has bested the Hawks during all three of the teams’ prior two meetings this year, when Atlanta was healthier. They could really use another win tonight. Tomorrow, the club faces off against the reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, and Monday will get its first up-close-and-personal look at the looming threat that is the Philadelphia 76ers. Neither game feels particularly winnable with Chicago at less than full strength.
The Bulls are still missing Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams. Ugh.
As we mentioned above, Young is a game-time decision and Collins is out for tonight. Center Onyeka Okongwu remains in the league’s concussion protocols. Lou Williams, who has missed several games with a left hip injury, has seen his status adjusted to probable.
6:00 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago