Mar 26, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) handles the ball while Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier (10) defends during the second half of a basketball game at Amway Center. The Magic won 111-89. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
After winning the first three games of the season, the Chicago Bulls have now lost three straight games. Can the Bulls bounce back against the Orlando Magic on Monday night?
The Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic are complete opposites of each other.
After becoming one of the first week’s big surprises with a 3-0 start to the season, the Bulls are in an early-season funk, losing three straight games to drop to .500 after a loss in Indianapolis on Saturday night.
As for the Evan “Never Google” Fournier and the Magic, they’re going in the other direction. Orlando started 0-3, but with wins over Philadelphia, Sacramento and Washington, the Magic sit at .500; tied with the Bulls for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Monday night brings a familiar face back to the United Center in the form of former Indiana Pacers head coach and new Magic head coach Frank Vogel. The former coach of the Pacers led Indiana’s team to the postseason in five of the six seasons he spent in Indianapolis, going to the conference finals twice and always giving the Bulls all they could handle during their divisional matchups.
For this breakdown, we’ll take a look at where each team is coming into Monday’s game, what the projected starting lineups will feature, and a final score prediction.
Mar 26, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) goes up for the shot against Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) and guard Elfrid Payton (left) during the first quarter of a basketball game at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
To be honest, neither team is really that good
The Bulls can’t stop a nosebleed, and the Magic can’t put the ball in the basket with eight guys on the floor.
After their 3-0 start, the Bulls are statistically one of the worst teams in the NBA in the last three games.
Reason for the Bulls' bad play: They've been the worst defense in the league, which has stalled the O into the halfcourt & limited assists. pic.twitter.com/WkDriPFXZs
That’s also addressing how bad the Bulls have been on the offensive side of the floor too, but their expected drop in their defensive performance is a huge reason why they’re sitting at 3-3 after a 3-0 start with wins over Boston, Indiana and Brooklyn.
As bad as the Bulls have been defensively in their last three games, the Magic have been that bad offensively — which shouldn’t come as a surprise with their personnel and coach — all season.
Only the Philadelphia 76ers (92.8 points per game) are averaging less per game than the Magic’s 95 per contest. There are just six teams shooting worse than the Magic’s 30.5 percent from 3-point range, and only two teams with a worse overall field goal percentage (41.4 percent) than the Magic.
It helps when you play bad teams like Sacramento and Philadelphia to help get you back on track (kinda).
Nov 5, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magi forward Aaron Gordon (00) walks down the court during the second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Washington Wizards 88-86. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Magic do have some good young players, so it’s not all bad
Six players for the Magic are averaging at least 10.3 points per game, led by Evan Fournier‘s 18.2 points on 43.7 percent shooting from the field.
As bad as Orlando could potentially be this season with their plethora of bigs, they did take it to the Bulls last season.
In fact, one of the notable letdowns for the Bulls — maybe the most notable letdown — last season in their disappointing 42-40 season was a blowout loss to the Magic late in the year.
This is obviously not the 2015-16 Bulls, but we still don’t know how good these Bulls are compared to last season’s Bulls. The faces are different, but the issues remain the same.
The size of the Magic could present a problem for the Bulls on the offensive end, but it could be a rebound of sorts on the other end. The Magic are just bad offensively and no signs early on point to that changing anytime soon.
With Dwyane Wade‘s 3-point shooting and Jimmy Butler‘s ability to get to the charity stripe at will, the Bulls could find the win column for the first time in a week.
They’ve been able to score the ball (100+ points in five of six games), but can they stop other teams from scoring? Against a team that lacks a scoring burst like the Magic, they might be able to.
There’s not much to base off either team other than they’re struggling to make their pieces fit this season. Bulls win an ugly game, 96-93.