What to Watch For: Bulls-Suns


The Chicago Bulls begin a four-game road trip on Wednesday night in Phoenix against the Suns. Here’s a few things to look out for when the Bulls clash with one of the high-scoring teams in the NBA.

Wednesday night begins a modified version of the annual “Circus Trip” for the Chicago Bulls. After hanging on at home on Monday night against Indiana, the Bulls will face the Phoenix Suns in the first of four road games in the next nine days.

Phoenix enters Wednesday’s game at 6-4 and winners of their last three games, while the Bulls have won four of their last five, including the last three in a row. The last time the Bulls were on the road was nine days ago in Philadelphia, a 111-88 Bulls drubbing of the (still) winless 76ers.

ALSO AT PIPPEN AIN’T EASY: Derrick Rose Listed as Doubtful vs. Phoenix

The main headline before the Bulls and Suns clash for the first of two meetings this season is the status of Bulls point guard Derrick Rose. During the fourth quarter of this past Monday’s win, Rose drove down the baseline and tweaked his left ankle. Although there’s no swelling or severe damage, it’s highly unlikely that Rose plays on Wednesday night.

Here’s a few things to keep your eyes as the Bulls prep for a late-night tip-off with Suns on ESPN’s doubleheader on Wednesday night.

The Bulls are severely overmatched in the backcourt without Rose

As bad as Rose has been throughout most of the first 10 games this season, the Bulls are better when he’s on the floor. That’s not at thought from looking at the numbers. That’s a thought when you realize what the depth chart looks like behind him.

Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe are of the league’s most dynamic back courts and have been on fire as of late. Both guards are averaging more than 20 points per contest this season, while Knight is coming off a triple-double performance against the Los Angeles Lakers this past Monday.

The Bulls will have Jimmy Butler healthy and ready to go, but with Aaron Brooks apparently in Fred Hoiberg‘s doghouse, the Bulls have the following point guard options: Kirk Hinrich and E’Twaun Moore.

That’s not exactly the cream of the crop at the lead guard spot.

The Bulls need a total team effort

To top an explosive offense like the Suns possess, the Bulls are going to have make plays on both ends of the floor. Phoenix plays up and down, but they allow teams to shoot 46 percent from the field (tied for 18th in the NBA), so the Bulls will have some opportunities to score.

Along with the offensive chances, the Bulls are going to be tested defensively. Only two teams (Golden State and Oklahoma City) score more points than Phoenix does. The Bledsoe-Knight duo are two huge reasons why they’re so explosive, but the Suns also have a solid young core of guys and a mix of serviceable veterans. They can score in a variety of ways, so the shaky Bulls defense will have to be on their p’s and q’s.

Frontcourt depth could be a key factor for the Bulls

It’s no secret that the Bulls have one of the deeper front courts in the NBA. Phoenix made a great free agent splash by signing Tyson Chandler to tutor young prospect Alex Len. But, the Bulls have the depth advantage up front and without Rose, the Bulls may want to consider slowing the pace down a bit and let the bigs take control of the game.

Pau Gasol is an adventure on defense, but he still has a solid offensive game that could make life hard for Chandler, Len and Jon Leuer. Joakim Noah‘s energy is always a problem for teams if he’s controlling the glass. It’s going to take a complete effort on Wednesday, but the Bulls bigs could tell the story of the game.

Next: What's Going On With Nikola Mirotic?

Other notes:

  • Markieff Morris will give it a go against the Bulls and T.J. Warren remains a question mark. Morris missed the last two games with a left knee sprain and has averaged 13 points per game in eight games this season. Warren is averaging 11.7 points per contest, but is battling with an illness heading into Wednesday night.
  • Tip-off is scheduled for 10:30 ET on ESPN. It’s the second game of ESPN’s Wednesday night doubleheader. The Bulls have won five of their last six games in Phoenix. Last season, the Bulls lost 99-93 in Phoenix on Jan. 30.