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Five Things to Watch: Bulls visit Wizards on CSN

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Five Things to Watch: Bulls visit Wizards on CSN

Watch as the Bulls take on the Wizards on Friday night on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 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. Beat another good team? The Bulls have nearly identical records against teams above .500 and below .500. Entering Friday's game in D.C., the Bulls are 15-17 against teams with winning records and 17-19 against teams with losing records. The Wizards are 41-26 so that means... nothing?

2. Life without Wade. Dwyane Wade has already missed games this season, but now the Bulls know he won't be back for the rest of the regular season. Wade's absence is a blow to the Bulls' flickering playoff hopes. Knowing the future Hall of Famer won't be in the lineup means there could be more minutes for the likes of Denzel Valentine.

3. Final meeting with the Wizards. The Bulls won the first meeting with the Wizards this season, a 106-95 win in November at the United Center. Jimmy Butler scored 37 points in that one. The Wizards won the next two, a 107-97 road win in December and a 101-99 home win in January when Butler and Wade both sat out.

4. Time to turn things around. Since winning five out of six, a run which featured wins against Toronto, Boston, Cleveland and Golden State, to bring their record to 31-30, the Bulls have slumped badly. The Bulls have lost six of seven to cancel out the good run. Playing at a team which is currently third in the Eastern Conference isn't exactly a recipe for a slump buster, but the Bulls need wins to get back in the playoff hunt.

5. Surging Wizards. Since a slow start to the season the Wizards have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA. The Wizards were 16-18, but won 23 of the next 29 games to rise up the conference standings. Heading into Friday's game, however, the Wizards have lost two in a row. It's just the third time in 2017 the Wizards have lost consecutive games. The Wizards haven't lose three in a row since November, a streak that included a loss to the Bulls.

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2020 NBA Draft Lottery going virtual, breaking two-year host run for Chicago

2020 NBA Draft Lottery going virtual, breaking two-year host run for Chicago

It’s felt pre-ordained for months now. Now, it appears it’s decided.

No, the Bulls didn’t draw the seventh pick in the 2020 NBA Draft (yet). But The Athletic’s Shams Charania did report Monday afternoon that the lottery scheduled for Aug. 20 will take place virtually. All 14 teams ‘in attendance’ will be allowed to ‘send’ remote representatives. The event will presumably be televised, but details haven’t emerged on that front yet.

It’s a logical gameplan given the COVID-19 pandemic’s ongoing nature, and the acclaim received by virtual draft showcases broadcast by the WNBA and NFL while live sports in the United States were effectively paused.

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The news also sends a few ripples in Bulls world. For one, who will rep the team, in this, its third consecutive lottery appearance? Michael Reinsdorf and Horace Grant manned the post in 2018 and 2019, respectively. But for this year? Benny the Bull would be sure to bring the energy. On the heels of the summer of “The Last Dance,” perhaps a dynasty-era contributor could get the call. Or maybe a newly-minted front office face instead? Time will tell.

And, as our K.C. Johnson pointed out on Twitter, this development also marks the end of a two-year streak of Chicago hosting the lottery in 2018 and 2019. The city has long housed the combine.

Here’s what Adam Silver told NBC Sports Chicago in February when asked his impressions of Chicago as a host-city for the lottery:

We have been very pleased in Chicago. Our community comes together in Chicago for our predraft camp and combine. It made perfect sense to also conduct the draft lottery there. And that was something that Mayor Emanuel never stopped reminding me of. Things can potentially change over time. We are enjoying being in Chicago. Because of the geographic location, it’s more convenient for our teams to be in a more central location. And Chicago, for the same reasons that makes it a fantastic All-Star host, has all the accommodations you need for our teams when they come together for our combine. My anticipation is we’ll be in Chicago for a while. And the city has been terrific to work with.

Silver made that comment before All-Star weekend in Chicago, but all of the above virtues translated. Though Bulls representation was limited, no one would deny Chicago played a splendid host for the festivities.

The Bulls enter this year’s lottery locked into the seventh-best odds (7.5%) at nabbing the No. 1 pick, and a 32% chance of vaulting into the top four. 

Slots No. 1 through No. 8 in the lottery standings are set with the teams excluded from the NBA’s restart. Slots No. 9 through 14 will populate at the end of the play-in round, when postseason seeding is officially set. Teams that started the restart as a top-eight seed in either conference can fall into the lottery if they miss the playoffs, but the ultimate order of the lottery odds will be decided by pre-hiatus record (meaning, for example, that if the current standings hold and the Phoenix Suns finish with a better record than the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings, but miss the postseason, the Suns would own better lottery odds than the Pels and Kings by virtues of each team’s pre-hiatus record).

All of which is to say, clear your calendars for next Thursday. After that, rumor and speculation are sure to swirl until the draft itself, which, as of right now, is reportedly scheduled for Oct. 16. The status of the combine remains up in the air, though ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported July 23 that the league is polling teams on which players should be invited to the combine if one takes place.

For the Bulls, helmed by a new front office regime and facing a moment of reckoning in the current rebuild, this year’s draft process is an especially crucial one.

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Bulls' Top 10 Centers in franchise history

Bulls' Top 10 Centers in franchise history

NBC Sports Chicago is counting down the top 10 Bulls at each position in franchise history.

We've hit the point guards, shooting guards, small forwards and power forwards. And last, but certainly not least, the men in the middle. The centers.

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Defensive anchors, multi-skilled hubs and blue-collar tenacity abound in these rankings. And plenty of hardware — both of the championship and individual variety.

We hope you've enjoyed this trip down memory lane. Without further adieu...

Bulls' Top 10 Centers in franchise history

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