Five Things to Watch: Bulls square off against Jazz on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Bulls square off against Jazz on CSN

Watch as the Bulls continue their Circus Trip and take on the Utah Jazz tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 9 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Bulls.

Five Things to Watch

1. Keeping the momentum going. Tuesday was by far the Bulls' most impressive victory of the season, thrashing a healy Trail Blazers team by 23 on the road. But it's still just one game on this six-game trip for the Bulls, and it'll mean little if the Bulls don't make the most of their remaining five games. They have a good chance to do it against a shorthanded Jazz team, but these were the kinds of games a year ago the Bulls lost.

2. An encore for Jerian Grant. Tuesday night's MVP was Jerian Grant, who scored 18 points in his first start for the Bulls. It seems like there's a chance Rajon Rondo misses tonight's matchup in Utah, meaning we'll get a chance to see if Grant can continue to stay aggressive, work well with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade and play aggressive defense against a tough Utah backcourt.

3. Stifling defense. As Insider Vincent Goodwill wrote on Wednesday, the Bulls are really stepping up defensively. Going one step further, the Bulls are currently No. 9 in defensive efficiency. Utah has been a middle-of-the-pack offensive team, though they're more comfortable at home and Gordon Hayward is getting on a roll. This is a great test for the Bulls' defense after locking down Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum on Tuesday.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

4. Taking advantage inside. Derrick Favors is dealing with a bone contusion in his knee and will miss Thursday's game. Yes, Utah still has 7-footer Rudy Gobert inside, but without Favors the Bulls should be able to win the frontcourt battle on both ends of the floor.

5. Battle of the stars. Jimmy Butler is on fire and Dwyane Wade is playing well with rest. Those two will go head-to-head with Hayward, who has scored at least 20 points in five of his six games this season. He's looking to bounce back after an ugly game against the Grizzlies on Tuesday. Butler will draw the assignment of slowing him down, and it will be a fun one to watch.

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Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut


Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.

It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.

The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.

James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.

Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.

It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.

That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.