Chicago Bulls: What to watch for in OKC

MEXICO CITY, MX - DECEMBER 13: Justin Holiday #7 of the Chicago Bulls hi-fives teammates during the game against the Orlando Magic as part of the NBA Mexico Games 2018 on December 13, 2018 at Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MX - DECEMBER 13: Justin Holiday #7 of the Chicago Bulls hi-fives teammates during the game against the Orlando Magic as part of the NBA Mexico Games 2018 on December 13, 2018 at Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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After a rare moment of success, the Chicago Bulls are looking for consecutive wins for the first time all season as they travel to OKC to take on the Thunder.

The Chicago Bulls have been a mess for most of the season, but things are starting to look better – not much better, but better.

On Saturday night, Jim Boylen coached his first game in San Antonio since becoming the Bulls’ head coach. Without Zach LaVine (ankle), the Bulls fell behind by 21 points. However, incredible performances from both Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen would help the Bulls win in an impressive comeback effort.

In that game, Markkanen scored 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field to go along with 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals, and Dunn scored 24 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field to go along with 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Dunn also scored two clutch buckets late in the fourth quarter to help the Bulls secure the win.

Now, as the Bulls look to win consecutive games for the first time all season (it’s mind-numbingly bad that they haven’t won consecutive games yet this season), they’ll take on a hungry, talented Oklahoma City Thunder team looking for revenge. The Bulls beat the Thunder in Chicago last time they met up, and I’m having a hard time believing the Thunder will drop two in a row against the Bulls.

What to watch for

There are a number of things to keep your eyes on as you watch the Bulls battle the Thunder tonight in OKC.

For starters, where will the scoring come from? With Zach LaVine out (ankle) and Jabari Parker questionable (stomach illness), the Bulls are likely going to be without two of their top scoring options. It’s comforting to know that Markkanen and Dunn are both looking healthy and effective, but there were still a number of times against San Antonio where the Bulls’ offense looked stagnant without LaVine and Parker on the floor. If Dunn and Markkanen don’t have it going early, the Bulls are in serious trouble.

Another area of struggle for the Bulls? Their bench production.

In San Antonio on Saturday night, the Bulls bench really struggled. Chandler Hutchison and Shaquille Harrison both were held scoreless, Cameron Payne scored 4 points and Bobby Portis contributed 9 points on an inefficient 4-of-12 shooting from the field and 0-for-3 shooting from 3-point range. The only solid bench contribution came from Robin Lopez, who finished the game with 10 points and 5 rebounds on 3-of-6 shooting from the field.

The biggest thing to watch for tonight, though, is Wendell Carter Jr.

Carter has been living in a world of foul trouble lately. Despite being one of the Bulls’ best players, he’s been unable to stay on the floor. Like most rookies, he’s had a hard time learning how to play without fouling at the NBA level. He’s constantly been picking up cheap fouls on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

Watch as Wendell Carter Jr. sets his screens tonight. Is he getting set? Or does he lean into the defender? This has been a consistent area of trouble for Wendell.

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If the Bulls can get quality offensive games from Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen, solid bench production, and good minutes from Wendell Carter Jr., they might just steal another win on the road.