The Chicago Bulls (1-5) continued to experience serious offensive struggles as they fell to the Miami Heat, 97-91. The frontcourt duo of Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez were excellent, combining for 47 points on 19-of-35 shooting. However, the rest of the team shot just 17 of 54. Justin Holiday and Kris Dunn, in particular, went a combined 8 of 30.
The Orlando Magic (6-2) have no such problems on offense these days. They are currently the second-highest scorers in the league at nearly 115 points per game. Although they scored a season-low 101 points, they still came away with a big road win over the Memphis Grizzlies as they took a share of the best record in the NBA. Evan Fournier continued his amazing start to the campaign as he hit his season average of 22 points against the Grizzlies.
Three keys to the game
Home-court advantage – The Magic have been money at home this season. They’re 3-0 on their own floor, which includes a big blowout win over the San Antonio Spurs last week. Their home fans should be energized by their team’s massive improvement, and will help lift them against a young Bulls team that’s 0-3 on the road.
Bulls firepower – The Bulls will need to put points on the board to beat the Magic, but it remains to be seen where they’re going to get those points. Holiday has fallen off a cliff in the past week, shooting an appalling 11 of 42 over his last three games. Someone like him or Jerian Grant needs to have an out-of-body experience for the Bulls to produce the offense they need in Orlando.
Vooch – Magic big man Nikola Vucevic had easily his least productive game of the season against the Grizzlies as he had just seven points on 3-of-11 shooting. But he goes from the incredible defense of Marc Gasol to the disastrous Bulls defense which is giving up over 20 points per game to opposing centers this season.
Matchup to watch
Lauri Markkanen vs Aaron Gordon – Markkanen has been one of the few bright spots for the Bulls this season, with the rookie taking advantage of his playing time to put up impressive numbers. However, he’ll have his hands full defensively against Aaron Gordon, who has grown by leaps and bounds offensively this season.
Bulls projected starting lineup
PG – Jerian Grant | SG – Justin Holiday | SF – David Nwaba | PF – Lauri Markkanen | C – Robin Lopez
Magic projected starting lineup
PG – DJ Augustin | SG – Terrence Ross | SF – Evan Fournier | PF – Aaron Gordon | C – Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic will be one to watch fantasy wise. He’s already broken out for huge games earlier this season, and while he’s coming off his least impressive showing of the season he could be primed for another big-time fantasy performance against a Bulls team that’s giving up the third-most fantasy points to opposing centers.
It’s hard to see how the Bulls keep within single-digits of the Magic, who have proven to be a superb team offensively. Look for Orlando’s offense to be too much for the young Bulls as the Magic cover the eight-point spread.
The Magic make short work of the Bulls and roll to a 110-92 win.
This game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Florida and WGN. Tip-off at Amway Center is at 7:30 pm Eastern.
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