Bulls (24-25, 9-14 road) vs. Thunder (28-21, 16-6 home)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
Time: 8:30 PM CST
Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)
- Offensive Rating: Thunder – 104.1 (18th), Bulls – 103.9 (19th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 104.2 (7th), Bulls – 104.6 (10th)
Sometimes, when you look at numbers directly, they can be a sobering reality. Take for example, the estimate versus the reality of your bank account. If you never track your bank account and just go off of estimates, what you think is in there may not necessarily be in there. In the end, the reality of the situation may shock you into keeping better track of the bank account.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “Self, how does this relate to basketball?”. Well, all season long, we’ve been hearing about how much of a dumpster fire the Chicago Bulls are. How their personnel is a terrible mix that was destined to fail. How their coach, who was supposed to be the Midwest version of Brad Stevens, may be on the hottest of hot seats. How they constructed a team with no shooting and no interior scoring. How they might as well just blow the whole thing up and start anew.
From 800 miles away, it’s basically all doom and gloom when it comes to Chicago basketball. As a fan, you can sit back and take refuge in the thought that, “At least the Thunder aren’t the Bulls.” But then you start to look at the numbers and you realize, “Oh, crap! The Bulls and the Thunder aren’t that far off.” You realize they are both led by dynamic guards, who aren’t necessarily expert marksmen. You realize that if your star player has a deficiency, then you try to put players around him to fill in those deficiencies. Then you realize both team have done a terrible job of constructing a roster to fit around their dynamo guards. You realize that both their rosters aren’t built to succeed in today’s NBA. And then you realize the Thunder are either a bad signing or an injury (d’oh!) away from completely becoming the Bulls.
It’s not all bad though. Take solace in the fact the Thunder have interior scoring. Between Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, and Enes Kanter, the Thunder are among the league leaders in points in the paint. Also, chemistry-wise, the Thunder seem to be in a much better place than the Bulls are at currently.
I did not intend for this intro to be negative. Instead, I was just surprised by the fragility of the second and third tier teams in the NBA. Look at a team from afar, and you may think, “Whew, glad we aren’t that team.” But then compare the numbers, and you may come to realization your team is just an injury or a 4 game losing streak away from looking just like the team you frowned your face at. Every team is working for the exact same goal, but most teams face a lot more potholes on their journey than the top-tier teams.
(TL:DR version: This is all your doing, Kevin Durant)
Season Series Summary
This is the second and final meeting of the season between the Thunder and Bulls. In their first meeting in Chicago, the Thunder pounded the Bulls inside, outscoring them 60-36 on points in the paint. The Thunder won that game 109-94
The Bulls come into the game with a 24-25 record, having lost 4 of their last 7 games. As mentioned above, the Bulls have their share of problems. They have a roster constructed of guards and wings who can’t shoot and big men who don’t play inside, outside of Robin Lopez. The pressure from the unbalanced roster is starting to manifest itself in frustration from the veterans on the Bulls, many of whom are coming up on possible free agency this offseason (Taj Gibson (UFA), Rajon Rondo (Team Option), Dwayne Wade (Player Option), and Nikola Mirotic (RFA)).
Defensively, the Bulls aren’t as bad as people make them out to be. All their back-court players are solid on the defensive end, and Lopez and Gibson anchor the inside. Where they struggle a bit is keeping up with athletic teams. Rondo, Wade, and Gibson are getting up there in age, and can’t keep up with speed like they used to.
- Enes Kanter (forearm)
- Alex Abrines (back) – Questionable
3 Big Things
1. Jimmy Butler
Regardless of whether he was sick or not, Jimmy Butler probably still remembers the last game he played against the Thunder….because it was literally his worst game of the season. Butler scored just 1 point on 0-6 shooting from the field in nearly 30 minutes of action. Not only was Butler battling the flu that game, but also Andre Roberson. And that made for a crappy game. You can rest assured Butler will come out extra motivated tonight.
2. Brick-fest 2017
These are the two worst 3-point shooting teams in the league. Whoever has moderate success in this department for the game likely comes out the victor.
3. Grant on Grant violence
It’s always fun to see siblings play against each other on a professional level. Both of these guys are up and comers and have shown that they belong in the NBA. Jerian got the best of Jerami in their last game with a nice dunk. Methinks its time for Jerami to return the favor.