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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Chicago Bulls Preview

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The Blazers look for their third straight win.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Chicago Bulls David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (7-12) vs. Chicago Bulls (6-13)

November 29, 2019 - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Gary Trent Jr. (probable)
Bulls injuries: Otto Porter Jr. (out), Luke Kornet (out), Cristiano Felicio (out), Chandler Hutchison (out), Ryan Arcidiacono (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Blog A Bull

How much things can change in two games. After losing four games in a row in a manner that exposed every weakness, the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Chicago Bulls in Chicago and returned home to shellac the Oklahoma City Thunder by a score of 136-119 on Wednesday. With the imploding Bulls on tap again, there is no reason that the Blazers shouldn’t tally another win.

The Chicago Bulls are coming off a dispiriting 104-90 loss to the Golden State Warriors, and the Chicago press is full of coverage indicating that a shakeup is coming. Promising players like Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen aren’t developing, and confidence is low. The Bulls helped the Blazers get out of their funk earlier this week, and the smart money says that playing the Bulls again at home will only increase the Blazers’ new-found confidence.

What to watch for

  • Melo. Fun fact: When Carmelo Anthony shoots 81.8% from the field he has never lost an NBA game. In all seriousness though, Melo’s performances against the Thunder on Wednesday and these same Bulls on Monday demonstrated how much the Blazers have been missing a reliable scorer at the power forward position. The jury is still out as to whether Melo can be that reliable scorer for the medium to long term, but there is reason for optimism. He is playing with energy and appears to be demonstrating veteran leadership and savvy. This could certainly just be a blip, but the last few games have shined a light on a possible path for how the Anthony signing could turn out to be a success.
  • Rebounding. After four games in a row of getting out-rebounded, the Blazers have won the battle of the boards the last two games. It isn’t a coincidence that they won the last two games and lost the previous four. A good effort on the boards should be enough to see the Blazers through. If they get out-rebounded against the Bulls, the Blazers might be in for a rough night.
  • Balanced scoring. One of the more promising aspects of the Blazers’ last two games is that the ball is moving on offense and everyone is putting points on the board. All five starters have been in double figures the last two games, and everyone who saw the court over the last two games has scored over that period.

What they’re saying

Gar Forman, Bulls GM, is on the hot seat according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

According to several sources, the Bulls chairman is livid about the team’s 6-12 start this season and the continued sinking profile of the organization and is beginning to focus on general manager Gar Forman. The sources indicated this is not a recent change of heart for Reinsdorf, and that his unhappiness has been building after several questionable decisions.

Jason Patt of Forbes thinks that Forman isn’t the only one who should be worried about his job:

Jettisoning Forman would be a popular move, but Paxson and Boylen should be on the hot seat as well. While the Reinsdorfs are extremely loyal to Paxson, he has been running the Bulls since 2003 with no NBA Finals trips and just one appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals. Boylen did nothing to deserve the three-year contract extension he got this past offseason, and the fact that he’s one of the lowest-paid coaches in the league should make a firing more palatable to ownership.

Tyler_Pleiss of Blog A Bull looks at the stalled development of second-year center Wendell Carter Jr.:

While there can probably be a debate for who is the Bulls most talented player right now, I feel confident in saying that Carter has the most potential. At 12.3 PPG, on nearly 60% shooting from the field, to go along with 9.5 RPG, there’s so much more that Carter is capable of that this coaching staff is failing to tap into.

Bonus: On the Blazer’s Edge Podcast, Tara Bowen-Biggs (aka Team Mom) spoke with Maggie Hendricks of 670 The Score before the previous game against the Bulls. The information is still fresh so give it a listen!