Chicago Bulls at Sacrametno Kings Outlook: Going to Boogie Town
As they continue their string of games out west, the Chicago Bulls are facing off against the Sacramento Kings on Monday night. With Cristiano Felicio out, mobile Bulls big men are on short supply as they need them to deal with DeMarcus Cousins. Jimmy Butler will be a game time decision and a Butler resting would provide another opportunity for the young players to showcase their offensive abilities.
The last time the Bulls took on Cousins and company they managed to snag a win thanks to a more than questionable call at the end of the game. Chicago’s fortunes this time around are already decreased as Butler is questionable with a bruised heel and Felicio has already been ruled out for at least the next week or so with a leg strain. Butler has been hobbled by this injury before so it’d be nice to see the Bulls take some caution and let him get completely right before returning to the court.
Butler’s absence could give younger unproven players another shot at proving themselves to be worth this teams time. If the Bulls want to salvage anything this season it should be productive player development instead of a first round exit in the playoffs. Though on the other side of the coin it’s always nice to see a win, even if its a pointless one in February.
Dealing with DeMarcus
Felicio being out tonight is a bigger hindrance for the Bulls than usual as they go up against Cousins who could be described as a combination of a Swiss Army knife and The Mountain from Game of Thrones. Felicio’s ability to guard bigs in space – best on the team aside from Taj Gibson – is going to be missed as Cousins attempts to torture Chicago’s front court, which I’m sure he’ll do with glowing success. That’s not a shot at the Bulls front court, just a nod to Cousin’s consistent dominance as he’s averaging 28 points and 10 rebounds this year. It’ll be hard to miss, but keep an eye on how Gibson and Robin Lopez fair against Cousins.
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I’m hoping to see Taj do the majority of his defending on Cousins. Lopez is great defending around the rim but the diversity of Cousin’s skill set makes Lopez defending Cousins a bit like trying to roast a marsh mellow 10 feet away from the fire. Cousins simply has too much gravity wherever he is with the ball and Robin’s strength is certainly not defending anyone out in the mid range let alone from the 3-point line, where Cousins is shooting 36 percent. A good mark for a big.
Poor Robin can’t even get a hand up because he is so worried about the drive. He can’t cover the drive while contesting anything outside sixteen feet, a task Gibson is more suited for. If Lopez gets assigned to Cousins for the majority of the night, it’ll be nightmare on Boogie street for him.
Plays like this are why Gibson is the better defensive option against Cousins. While he is quite literally all up in Cousins’ shirt, Taj takes away his jumper while remaining in stance, making it tough for Cousin’s to drive past. Here’s to hoping Fred Hoiberg tasks Gibson with Cousins for the night.
Give Jimmy a Rest
With Jimmy being a game time decision, I’m in the opinion the Bulls should give him the game off. The Kings pick is still in play for the Bulls if Sacramento can finish the season strong and make the playoffs, so sitting Jimmy would be a clever move by the Bulls. Preserve Butler’s health while giving themselves a better shot at getting that pick, albeit only be helping the Kings a little, but it’d be nice to see Chicago make a decision that is going to benefit their future rather than just tonight’s game.
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Also, if Butler sits, it gives the younger players another chance at proving themselves worthy of being the main third option. Something the Bulls have lacked all year. Michael Carter-Williams seized his opportunity when getting the start against the Houston Rockets on Friday. I’d personally rather see Nikola Mirotic or Jerian Grant get a stab at being the second option for a night as they are more natural scorers and realistic candidates for the future. Though I would still be happy to see MCW flourish like he did on Friday night. He always plays with effort and it’s nice to see him get a little shine after his stint of DNPs.
This season feels lost so it only makes sense to try to see which young guys will be capable of contributing to a hopefully successful team in the future. Giving them opportunities and letting them play through mistakes is the best process to find out whose worth keeping around. Though the Bulls usually pick short term mediocrity over future team building plans so I won’t be shocked if Jimmy does play. Shame because the Bulls could kill a couple theoretical birds with one stone by just playing it safe. Though as the kids like to say, Bulls gonna Bulls.