Bulls

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-Pelicans

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls-Pelicans

Back to back

Fred Hoiberg's young group has dealt with plenty early in the season. Not having Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis crippled the frontcourt depth. Cameron Payne is still out and Kris Dunn is just returning from a dislocated finger. The Bulls have already faced the Cavaliers, Spurs and Thunder....and the Raptors and Heat are nothing to scoff at, either.

One thing Hoiberg's group hasn't faced yet? A back to back. Saturday night will mark the first time this young, inexperienced group has played two straight nights. Yes, fresh legs compared to older teams make this easier, but it's also mentally taxing to compete for 48 minutes two nights in a row. The good news is the Pelicans will also be on the second half of a back-to-back. They, like just about every team the Bulls will face this year, are more experienced.

Boogie and The Brow

It hasn't resulted in many wins for the Pelicans, but there isn't a better 1-2 punch talent-wise in the NBA than Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Entering Friday night's action, Davis and Cousins were ranked 2nd and 6th, respectively, in PER. The raw numbers are just absurd, so we'll let them do the talking:

Davis: 27.1 points, 12.1 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 2.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 53.2% FG

Cousins: 30.1 points, 13.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.3 blocks, 2.1 steals, 48.8% FG

Yeah. Not bad, fellas.

Lauri's biggest test yet...and it ain't close

So the Bulls are on a back-to-back. And they'll face the best 1-2 frontcourt in the entire NBA. Guess what that means? Lauri Markkanen gets the steepest test to date, and maybe the toughest one he'll face all year long. Markkanen has shown he's up to the task thus far, but with Davis hounding him all night he'll likely need to defer to his teammates to get the job done.

Coby White focused on development, winning for Bulls, not All-Star weekend

Coby White focused on development, winning for Bulls, not All-Star weekend

On Friday, Coby White will find out if he makes the Rising Stars Challenge as part of All-Star weekend in Chicago.

“It would mean a lot,” White said Tuesday. “Hopefully, I’ll be one of the ones selected. But like I always say, if not, it's not the end of the world for me. I won't let it define who I am. But to represent Chicago in Chicago for All-Star weekend, it would be a big deal for me. It would be a blessing for sure.”

White said he hasn’t spoken to Lauri Markkanen or Kris Dunn about the experience, which pits prominent first- and second-year players in a Team USA vs. Team World format. Both of those Bulls have played in the contest, which is scheduled for Feb. 14.

“We’re just trying to focus on winning right now,” White said.

White has produced several memorable scoring binges this season, although the Bulls drafted him with the No. 7 pick in last June’s draft to eventually play a lead guard role. Coach Jim Boylen said White’s decision-making is “developing,” which is typical for young players.

“I’ve seen some terrific improvement from Coby in his decision-making, his ability to get us organized,” Boylen said. “We all know that he knows he has room to grow there. But he has focused on it, he’s been pounding the film. He watches the film with the assistant coaches and then he watches film with me before every game. We have about a 20-minute spot on game day that him and I sit and watch film, talk about situations.’’

Bulls' Jim Boylen on Victor Oladipo's return: 'It's good for the league'

Bulls' Jim Boylen on Victor Oladipo's return: 'It's good for the league'

One year and six days after rupturing his right quad tendon, Victor Oladipo is scheduled to make his return Wednesday against the Bulls.

The Pacers All-Star guard was averaging 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists when he went down.

“I'm very happy for him. He's a terrific kid, a terrific guy. That injury he had was a really tough one. I'm sure he's worked as hard as anybody, from what I know of him,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. “As I've said before, injuries in this league are heartbreaking. But he's a competitive guy and it's good for the league that he's back.”

The Pacers not only surprisingly weathered the storm of losing Oladipo to win 48 games and qualify for last season’s playoffs, they currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference at 30-17.

The Bulls, who are vying for their first three-game win streak of the season, are two games out of the playoffs as they begin a three-game trip.

“We had a moment in Orlando where we were playing a team that was close to us in the standings, that we were trying to catch, and we fell short in that moment,” Boylen said of a Dec. 23 road loss. “Now we're going to be in another situation where, first we've got a division opponent, then we have a team that we're chasing in the standings. So we'll see how we handle those situations.

“The beauty of this is we have a young group that's going to play some meaningful game. That's what we hoped for, that's the situation we're in and we'll see how we handle it. I expect this group to play hard and play together and we'll see what happens.” 

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