Now that the All-Star festivities are behind us the regular season will resume. The season resumes tonight and the Bulls will be hitting the floor tomorrow. The Bull’s first game post-All-Star break is a big one. They meet with the top team in the East, the Philadelphia 76ers. However, the Bulls look like they are going to get lucky going into their game tomorrow.
76ers’ Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are required to quarantine until Friday and Saturday, respectively, due to contact tracing, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. It rules Embiid out of Thursday game, and Simmons out of Thursday and Friday.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 9, 2021
The top two players on the 76ers will be out tomorrow. Due to contact tracing, there is no possible way that they will see the court. It also looks like at this point there’s no concern the 76ers won’t be able to play this game. The Bulls are catching a major break here as they should be in a good position to get a win in their first game back.
The Bulls might have everyone back
It’s been quite some time since the Bulls have had a healthy roster. It seems like when the injuries started they passed from one player to the next. Bulls fans got some good news today when head coach Billy Donovan touched on the Bull’s injured players.
Chicago Bulls HC Billy Donovan said on 670 The Score that there is a very strong possibility that Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter Jr return tomorrow night against the 76ers.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) March 10, 2021
The return of forward Lauri Markkanen would bring the starting five back to what Donovan originally intended. This would give that group a chance to continue playing together and create chemistry. That group has only played together in 6 games this season so it will be huge to get him back on the floor. The Bulls will need to hit the ground running as they get back to play.
The return of forward Otto Porter Jr is also important for this team. It adds another veteran presence and more depth on the bench. Porter has been plagued by injuries and when he’s on the court he’s effective. It’s hard to be able to trust that he will be out there for each game but getting him back could be key for the Bulls. If the team wants to make a playoff push they can’t afford to lose games where they catch breaks like this.
Where the Bulls sit after the break
Coming out of the break the Bulls are the ninth seed in the East. With the changed playoff format, the Bulls would find themselves in the play-in game currently. The team is 2 games under .500 at 16-18. Head coach Billy Donovan believes there’s still work to be done.
Billy Donovan on 16-18 at break: “We have a losing record right now.”
Love that mentality.
Then praised progress and work ethic and mindset of players.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 4, 2021
He knows that this isn’t good enough for this organization and wants better. He hasn’t had his full squad much but with everyone seemingly healthy coming out of the break his expectations are most likely high. Donovan believes this team can be better than what their record shows. Let’s hope with a healthy squad we will see them jump right back into things tomorrow night.
The Bulls offense needs to come out firing
The Bulls have the 6th highest-scoring offense in the league. If they want to guarantee themselves a victory tomorrow they need to come out ready to play on the offensive end of the ball. Outside of shooting guard Zach LaVine, none of the team has played in a game setting since the break began. While that’s only a week they need to come out crisp and clean. No sloppy turnovers that put themselves in a hole to start the game. There are so many stats out there nowadays and I’m sure this is one Donovan is aware of with this team’s offense.
A stat Billy Donovan will like heading into second half: Bulls rank 3rd in the NBA in efficiency on cuts, scoring 1.38 PPP. Shooting 71.8% in the play type (@nbastats)
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) March 9, 2021
With a young team like the Bulls, it will be important to get them into a rhythm quickly. Donovan will need to run the plays that give them high-efficiency shots. Once the team gets their feet under them he can let them cook. This game tomorrow is one the Bulls need to make sure they win. With Embiid and Simmons out the Bulls simply have no excuse.