In advance of hosting the Indiana Pacers Friday night, Jim Boylen announced that Daniel Gafford will make his first NBA start. He'll slide into the center spot alongside Lauri Markkanen in the first unit.
That froncourt duo is something of an adjustment from Wendesday night's game in New Orleans, when Boylen ran Thad Young out with the starters.
"We think for this game that's a good situation," Boylen said of the decision, which will see Gafford match up with Pacers center Myles Turner. "There's a possibility that our starting lineup could float a little bit, I don't want to commit to that [moving forward], I just want you to be aware of it, and we'll see how that goes."
Boylen stressed that the decision is more matchup-based than a referendum on any one player or player combination, and to expect some mixing and matching going forward.
"We have all the confidence in the world in Gaff, this is not about who we're confident in and who we're not," Boylen said. "There's other things that go into it. Sometimes it's who their backups are that goes into it."
Gafford went scoreless with four rebounds and two blocks in 16 minutes of action against the Pelicans, the Bulls' first game without Wendell Carter Jr. Carter is set to miss at least 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain, and said today that he's targeting the All-Star break for his return.
Young had 18 points and six rebounds in 34:44 minutes on 7-for-16 shooting on Wednesday. The hope is Young's presence will help along a Bulls bench that mustered just 23 points in that game.
"Thad's tough and he's experienced, and he plays very hard. He's got great hands, he's got great instincts. We move him around, to his credit, he's done a good job for us," Boylen said. "It seems like he makes one or two threes every game. And we also get him on the box a little bit, and he throws the ball out and he makes good plays."
Boylen also lauded Markkanen for fighting through an ankle ailment of his own last week, and said there's "no doubt" he plays tonight.
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