Bulls face Wizards in Chicago before going on long trip
CHICAGO — If you ask Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, the formula for success is pretty simple.
Compete hard on defense. Every play, every quarter, every night.
“We can score, that's not a concern,” Butler told the Chicago Sun-Times this week. “But we'll only go as far as our defense carries us. You can bet on that.”
Now it is up to Butler and his teammates to put their words into action.
Chicago (5-4) will seek its third win in the past four games Saturday night as it hosts the Washington Wizards (2-6). The game marks the final home game for the Bulls before they embark on a six-game road trip that stretches past Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, the banged-up Wizards would be thankful to improve upon a disappointing start to the season. Coach Scott Brooks' squad remains winless (0-3) on the road, and it will not be at full strength as it looks for success in Chicago.
Point guard John Wall will miss the game as Brooks tries to preserve his health and effectiveness for the bulk of the season. Wall, who underwent surgeries on both of his knees during the offseason, played 35 minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night and will be rested rather than playing back-to-back nights.
Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal also could miss the game. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft experienced tightness in his right hamstring earlier this week and did not play Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. His status for Saturday is uncertain.
“It's early in the season, but we want our players to be able to compete at a high level and feel comfortable out there right now,” Brooks told The Washington Post. “He's definitely progressing and we'll see how he feels (Saturday) morning.”
Injuries limited Beal to 55 games last season.
“I hate being injured,” Beal told the Post. “This is something that could have been a lot worse, and thankfully it's not. Just more tightness than anything and irritation of nerves and everything that's involved in the human body. It's just a matter of me just being smart about it.”
In Wall's place, guard Tomas Satoransky likely will receive more playing time. The 6-foot-7, 210-pound rookie from the Czech Republic has averaged 3.8 points per game.
Veteran shooting guard Marcus Thornton could start if Beal is unable to go.
The Bulls are healthy with the exception of guard Michael Carter-Williams, who could miss another month with a left knee injury. The team is coming off a three-point win over the Miami Heat on Thursday in Dwyane Wade's return to South Florida.
Wade has scored 17.3 points per game since signing a free-agent contract with his hometown Bulls. The only player averaging more points per game is Butler (22.3).
Defense has determined the Bulls' fate this season. The team is 4-0 when limiting opponents to fewer than 100 points, and it is 1-4 when allowing 100-plus points.
A similar storyline has unfolded for the Wizards. They are 0-5 when surrendering 100-plus points, compared with 2-1 when holding opponents to double digits.