Bulls Week Ahead
The last week has been one hell of a week for the Bulls. They lost coach Billy Donovan and a number of players including Lonzo Ball to Covid protocols. A daunting looking week followed with 5 games in 7 days, however the Bulls came out with 5 W's extending their streak to 7 and 24-10 on the season so far. In the process beating:
The last 2 games being either side of the New Year and a back to back road trip. Those 2 games will be remembered for DeMar DeRozan dropping two 3 pt buzzer beaters to seal the W's becoming the 1st player in NBA history to do so. The Bulls saw out 2021 on top of the East and welcomed 2022 by gaining a game with the conference lead.
Onto next week and the Bulls will have a better looking schedule with 3 games in 7 days, 2 of which are at the United Center.1st up on Monday at home against the Orlando Magic, who the Bulls beat the last time they faced each other 123-88 in Orlando. The game was seen as the Wendell Carter revenge game after his trade from the Bulls and he scored 26 pts and had 10 rebs. However, the player to watch for me is rookie Franz Wagner. The rookie picked with the traded Bulls pick at 8 is in serious contention for Rookie of the Year and is averaging 15.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 2.7 apg. Magic currently sit 7-29 with the Celtics to play tonight before heading to Chicago tomorrow.
After that the Bulls have some time off until Friday when they'll face the Washington Wizards again at home. Wizards will be hurting after last night's buzzer beating loss 120-119 and they'll be hoping to have some players out of protocols by then and pose another tough challenge. Key player for them will be Bradley Beal, who's averaging 23.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg and 6.4 apg. After last night's loss the Wizards fell to 18-18 for the season.
Bulls will then travel to Dallas to take on the Mavericks who they beat 117-107 at the UC last time out. A team that has Luka Doncic will always be a threat, but the Bulls kept him quiet last time out limiting him to just 20 points. Doncic has been out for the last 10 games with an ankle injury and then entering protocols. He is due to return tonight for Mavs. His season average to date is 25.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg and 8.5 apg. Mavs currently have a 17-18 record for the season.
Onto the Bulls and they'll be hoping to carry the win streak through this following week and they'll be boosted by the return of Billy Donovan who missed the last 5 games in protocol. Lonzo Ball, Alfonzo McKinnie have cleared protocols and Tony Bradley is set follow. Bulls currently have a record of 12-4 at the UC and will look to build on that this week.
Fans will be hoping that the games aren't as dramatic as the last 2 because their blood pressures won't cope with all the last second shots. Bulls will certainly welcome back Lonzo Ball who's defence has been sorely missed. His season averages in 29 games played are 13.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 5.0 apg, 1.8 stls, 1.0 blk 41.8 fg% and 41.9 3%. Coby White will be looking to continue his recent play with back to back 20 point games and some solid D but he'll likely drop back to the bench. Hopefully his confidence is back so he can really break out in his new role. He's kind of gone under the radar because of how dramatic the games have been, but he was key to both victories for Bulls. His current average is 10.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.5 apg.
Whatever happens you know this Bulls team will be fun to watch!
-Matt H (Twitter:@matthearn1)