Ibaka-Gasol Front-court to start things off! Exciting stuff!
I really couldn’t put my thoughts about the Bulls-Knicks-Bulls gauntlet of death better than Samson Folk did this morning: “Playing a 3-game stint against Chicago/New York/Chicago should probably be illegal.”
It should be. Still, there are some things to watch other than Chicago’s godawful brand of tanky mctankerson.
With Kawhi Leonard out, there’s plenty of extra shots to be redistributed. Pascal Siakam has been an absolute stud, with his usage rate and scoring efficiency taking leaps whenever Leonard isn’t on the floor. We know that he can demolish the Bulls. That wouldn’t be news. Instead, I would like to see Fred VanVleet and Marc Gasol run the high pick-and-roll to death. VanVleet looked like a bearded and bulky Steph Curry against the Knicks, shooting 4-for-8 from deep and scuttling all around the floor. His on- and off-ball ability perfectly blends with the same skills from Gasol. (If you think about it, they’re really a point guard and center version of each other – I may drop a piece about this before the playoffs begin.) Gasol needs some confidence in his scoring, and there’s no better place to get it than here.
Otherwise, hope for health. In an ideal situation, Jeremy Lin, Jodie Meeks, Norman Powell, Malcolm Miller, and Chris Boucher lead the team in minutes played.
The team has already ruled out OG Anunoby (concussion-like symptoms), Kawhi Leonard (personal), and Patrick McCaw (thumb).
PG: Kyle Lowry, Jeremy Lin
SG: Fred VanVleet, Jodie Meeks
SF: Danny Green, Norman Powell, Malcolm Miller
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam
C: Marc Gasol, Chris Boucher
The Bulls are in the bad place. Zach LaVine (thigh), Kris Dunn (back), Lauri Markkanen (fatigue), Otto Porter (rotator cuff), Chandler Hutchinson (toe), Wendell Carter Jr. (thumb), and Denzel Valentine (ankle) are all out.
PG: Ryan Arcidiacono
SG: Shaquille Harrison, Antonio Blakeney, Rawle Alkins
SF: Wayne Selden, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot
PF: Brandon Sampson
C: Robin Lopez, Cristiano Felicio