275 days later…
The Bulls have a game Friday night -- at home, against the Houston Rockets.
As each team’s preseason opener, yes, it’s of the exhibition variety. But it will be the first live action for the team since March 10, when they secured victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center the night before the 2019-20 season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That pandemic is still raging, but under stringent health and safety protocols, the NBA is forging on with its 2020-21 campaign.
Here’s the rundown on what to expect tonight:
Coby White, Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. will start for the Bulls, head coach Billy Donovan reported after morning shootaround. “The regular guys,” as Thad Young said.
Donovan has said to “not read too much” into lineups or rotations during the preseason. The Bulls’ focus is on implementing fresh offensive and defensive schemes and experiment with different player combinations.
“We may have different starting lineups for those four games. We’ll have to see,” Donovan said. “The biggest thing for me is just trying to install offense and defense and the opportunity to play and compete.”
But it does sound like they’ll gradually ramp up Porter, who’s appeared in just 29 of a possible 93 games since being traded to the Bulls, and missed 51 of 65 last year with an ever-evolving foot ailment. By Donovan’s account, Porter remains 100 percent healthy and has fully participated in every practice of camp thus far.
“Based on his history and his past, we want to make sure we’re monitoring what we’re doing with him,” Donovan said. “Certainly, him being out there and available is a lot better than him not. So we got to make sure we’re doing a good job of checking in to see where he’s at physically.”
Donovan said the rotation against the Rockets will run nine-deep (10, if fatigue or foul trouble takes hold for anyone) in the first half, but will expand in the second.
The Rockets’ probable starters, via game notes distributed Thursday evening: John Wall, Eric Gordon, Danuel House Jr., P.J. Tucker, Christian Wood.
Again, not official. But if Wall plays, it will be his first live NBA action since Dec. 26, 2018. Demarcus Cousins, signed by the team this offseason, is listed as the “sixth man” in said games notes; he last played on June 13, 2019 -- Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, which he suited up for as a member of the Golden State Warriors. This will also be Christian Wood’s exhibition debut with the team, after Houston inked him to a three-year, $41 million contract in November.
- Garrett Temple (not with team - isolating)
- Adam Mokoka (not with team)
- Denzel Valentine (hamstring strain)
- Thad Young (left lower leg infection)
How to watch
Date: Dec. 11 | 7 p.m. CT
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Stream: MyTeams App