Coming off an impressive win over the Charlotte Hornets, the 14-8 Chicago Bulls begin a pretty difficult stretch over their next five games, with four coming on the road.
Thursday, it begins with the Bulls traveling to take on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. This will be the Bulls’ third meeting with the Knicks over the course of this young season, with each team winning one so far.
The two games between Chicago and New York were decided by a combined seven points, so these teams are fully back in the thick of an old rivalry. New York presents a difficult matchup with Julius Randle, but thankfully, Nikola Vucevic is healthy once again — and playing excellent basketball.
After the game with New York, the Bulls then head to take on the Brooklyn Nets on the road. This will be quite the rematch, considering the Bulls beat the Nets convincingly earlier in the season, despite 38 points from Kevin Durant. Brooklyn will certainly be looking to avenge that 23-point loss.
This stretch will tell us much about the current state of these Chicago Bulls.
If Chicago can either split those two games or go 2-0, they’ll be in great shape as they head home for their only game at the United Center during this 5-game stretch. They will host Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, who are always a tough matchup. Between Vucevic and Jokic, alone, this will be a fun matchup.
The Bulls’ fourth game in this difficult period is on the road against a sneaky Cleveland Cavaliers team, featuring former Chicago forward Lauri Markkanen. The big story in this one will be how the Bulls match up with Cleveland’s front court.
Between Jarrett Allen and rookie Evan Mobley, the Cavs have one of the best front courts in the league. There are few rookies playing better than Mobley, too, as the kid is putting up 14.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
Cleveland is a well-rounded club with eight players averaging double-figure scoring, so the Bulls cannot take them lightly.
Lastly, the Bulls round out this 5-game stretch on Saturday Dec. 11 in a rematch with the Miami Heat, this time on the road. The Bulls lost a close one just a few days ago to the Heat, 107-104. That loss was especially frustrating because the Bulls somehow kept it close despite 23 turnovers.
Each one of these five teams are currently in their respective conference’s playoff picture. So, like the Bulls faced earlier in the season with 11 of 12 teams being playoff teams from a year ago, they will be tested.
For the Bulls to come out of this 3-2 or better means that they are a legitimate contender. This team is healthy now, with Vucevic back in the lineup, and looked maybe the best they’ve looked all season in their most recent game against Charlotte. Let’s hope Billy Donovan and the crew can keep it going.
We’ll see you on the other side.