it’s a step in the right direction and something the Bulls will look to keep rolling into a Tuesday night showdown with the Pacers. The Bulls are against the Pacers this season and just so happen to be next to each other in the eastern conference playoff race. The Bulls hold the 10th spot in the east, currently two games behind the Pacers.
There’s valuable ground to be made up. There’s also valuable ground to maintain on the 11th seeded Toronto Raptors who trail Chicago by just one game entering tonight.
Chicago is set to be without Daniel Theis, who is managing a personal issue as the season plays out. After being dealt at the deadline, it’s important to give Theis what is needed as he works through things. We respect his privacy and assume moving mid-season, in addition to the current circumstances, has made the situation even harder than it already was.
Also missing in this one will be Garrett Temple. Temple is a valued veteran that will be missed anytime he can’t take the court but still brings value to the team even if he’s in street clothes.
Chicago Bulls player to watch: Lauri Markkanen
With the absence of big man Daniel Theis, Lauri Markkanen finds himself with yet another opportunity to show the BUlls what he is capable of besides being a knockdown perimeter shooter.
I’m not saying he will show it but the opportunity certainly will exist. Markkanen is coming off one of the few disappointing performances in the victory against the Nets, a game he finished with just eight points to go along with five rebounds.
The absence of Theis means head coach Billy Donovan may have to get creative with his lineups. If Markkanen plays minutes next to Thaddeus Young in the frontcourt we really need to see him assert himself on the glass. Not an easy task for the fourth-year forward so far this season.
While Theis hasn’t necessarily inserted himself into a glass cleaning role with the Bulls so far, he definitely is bringing a physical style of play that will be lacking against the Pacers tonight. Where will that play come from? It’s tough to predict that answer. We know what Christian Felicio is, or more accurately what he is not.
I’m not asking for Markkanen to match the energy Theis brings to the floor night in and night out. While that would be a great sight to see it just isn’t realistic. Markkanen can, however, bring every to the team off the bench and make it a point of emphasis to hit the glass hard. The Pacers have a big man in Damontas Sabonis who does work on the glass and another who doesn’t in Myles Turner.
It would be a win to see Markkanen finally pick up that second double-double of the season in this one and would go a long way in helping the Bulls get a very important win tonight.