Chicago Bulls vs. Denver Nuggets: Game Outlook

Bobby Portis, PF/C, Chicago Bulls

Feb 5, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) dribbles the ball against Chicago Bulls forward Bobby Portis (5) in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets defeated the Bulls 115-110. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

After splitting games in Los Angeles over the weekend, the Chicago Bulls travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets.

The Bulls play the fifth game of the six-game road trip on Tuesday night, squaring off against the Nuggets in Denver.

Chicago defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night. Both teams had Monday off, so both teams will be well-rested for their first matchup of the season.

Denver started the season miserably, dropping four of their first five games. But since then, they’ve won two of three, including an impressive win over the Utah Jazz on Sunday.

So far this season, the Bulls have done a fair job at beating teams they should be beating; a change from the last two seasons. They’ve beaten the Magic, Heat, Wizards and Lakers, all of whom project to miss the playoffs in their respective conferences.

A disappointing and confusing theme from the Bulls’ first year under Fred Hoiberg was their inability to put away mediocre teams, despite playing well against elite squads.

That’s seemed to have changed this year, so ideally tonight’s game will solidify that theory.

Jimmy Butler, SG/SF, Chicago Bulls

Feb 5, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton (5) guards Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Projected starting lineups

The Bulls have already announced that Dwyane Wade will be back in the rotation after taking the night off in Los Angeles on Sunday night against the Lakers.

Doug McDermott (concussion protocol) still has not been cleared and will not play in Denver on Tuesday night.

Other than those two alerts, everyone should be available for the Bulls against the Nuggets. That means the starting five will go back to normal, as Rajon Rondo looks to be clear of his ankle issue.

Chicago Bulls:

Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez

Denver Nuggets:

Emmanuel Mudiay, Will Barton, Danilo Galinari, Kenneth Faried and Jusuf Nurkic

It’ll be interesting to see how the Bulls match up with guys like Kenneth Faried (more on him in a bit) and Jusuf Nurkic — one of the former Bulls draft picks that was traded for Doug McDermott — who are absolute monsters on the glass.

Which, speaking of rebounding…

Robin Lopez, C, Chicago Bulls

Nov 20, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (14), Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez (8) and Los Angeles Lakers center Timofey Mozgov (20) wait for a rebound in the first half of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Rebounding

The Nuggets and Bulls rank first and second in the league in rebounding rate according to Hollinger’s team stats. Both teams have humongous front lines, with the likes of Jusuf Nurkic and Taj Gibson excelling on the boards.

Defensive rebounding will be a key for the Bulls. They’ve struggled to grab the opposing team’s misses against athletic rebounders like Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin.

Kenneth Faried might present a problem for Chicago tonight, as he’s been averaging nearly 10 rebounds a game and is much quicker than his matchup at power forward in Taj Gibson.

If the Bulls are to win their second straight game, it’ll come down to rebounding, and it won’t be easy. If Denver excels at anything on the floor, it’s controlling the glass.

I’d give you a stat about how the Bulls lose when they’re out-rebounded, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, but nonetheless, it’ll be an interesting battle on the glass in Denver tonight.

Taj Gibson, PF/C, Chicago Bulls

Feb 5, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) blocks the shot of Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets defeated the Bulls 115-110. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls are historically bad in Denver

The Bulls aren’t great when they’ve had to play at a higher altitude.

They’re very, very bad.

The last time the Bulls won a game in Denver was in 2006.

To clarify, Joakim Noah hadn’t left Florida yet and Derrick Rose was still playing high school basketball.

That’s how long it’s been since the Bulls won a game in Denver.

This isn’t a great Denver team the Bulls will be facing tonight, but it’s been a house of horrors for the Bulls in recent memory.

However, they’ve surprised a lot of people on their toughest road trip all season with three wins in the first four games, so maybe they’ll continue the trend of surprising with a win on Tuesday night.

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