Bulls

Rip to make Bulls debut as a spectator, will it end that way?

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Rip to make Bulls debut as a spectator, will it end that way?

INDIANAPOLIS -- It's just a preseason game, but Friday's matchup between the Bulls and the Pacers will feel like a full-course meal for basketball-starved NBA junkies. Obviously Bulls fans, with a mostly-intact squad returning from last season, are anxious to see whether head coach Tom Thibodeau plays new addition Rip Hamilton.

"We'll see after the shootaround. We're going to sit down. He had a good practice yesterday. We'll see how he feels and then we'll make a decision prior to the game," he said prior to Friday morning's shootaround at Conseco Fieldhouse. "Obviously Ronnie Brewer is going to start tonight. Ronnie's starting at 2. I also want to see Ronnie with the second unit. That group played extremely well together, so we're going to look at some different combinations."

Echoed Hamilton to CSNChicago.com: "Well, we're going to see. I've still got a lot to learn and things like that, so we're going to go out there to shootaround and see how we feel after."

As for Brewer, the selfless swingman told CSNChicago.com that he's willing to do whatever's best for the team.

"I've been working with the first group during training camp. I feel like I've been playing pretty well, but we're just trying to find chemistry," he said. "We had a long break from last year, with the addition of Rip, we're trying to work him in and allow him to learn the plays, and get used to everybody's strengths and weaknesses. It's been a minute since I've started a game, but I'm excited about it. I'll do my best to help any possible way, on offense or defense, or both."

Thibodeau plans to use his team's depth Friday, trying out different combinations, but although Brewer will be in the starting lineup, expect to see him rejoin his "Bench Mob" second-unit group at some point in the contest.

"I've said this before: I thought our bench was a great strength for our team last year. They had great chemistry together, they can execute, they can score in transition, they play great defense. I think they complement each other well, so I think it is a plus," said Thibodeau. "We're not going to play a normal rotation, per se, but they're going to play a good amount of minutes. We have to be ready on the 25th. You don't really know until you see what unfolds in the game either, so if we need to sub earlier, we'll sub earlier."

Additionally, the team's lone rookie, Marquette product Jimmy Butler, should see his first NBA action.

"I want to play Jimmy some, too. I want to see him in action," Thibodeau said about the 6-foot-7 wing. "I think he's learning how to be a pro. He's got a great demeanor. He's got an excellent attitude and approach to the game. He's got a lot to learn and he's moving in the right direction."

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Hub Arkush (ProFootball Weekly) and Jason Goch (SB Nation) join Kap on the panel.

The guys debate which team will finish with a higher draft pick when the season ends: Bulls or Blackhawks?

Plus, hear their reaction to the MLB’s new pace-of-play rule change.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: