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Nets bring their losing streak to Chicago

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Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Another day, another L. The Brooklyn Nets played host to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center and lost by 15 points. It was their fifth straight loss and if not for the Philadelphia 76ers, the Nets would be the worst team in the Eastern Conference. It's the smaller things in life that prevent you from pulling your hair out.

Coming into Barclays will be the Chicago Bulls. It's been a long couple of days for them. They played a four (yes, FOUR) overtime game on Friday in Detroit that they eventually lost. That was the first half of a back-to-back. The second half brought them to New York City where they lost by 16 to the Knicks. This is their third game in four nights. After this, they get a few days off before playing the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Christmas Day.

Where to follow the game

YES Network for TV (unless you are "served" by Comcast), WFAN 101.9 FM for radio. Tip off after 8.

Injuries

Shane Larkin's still in the concussion protocol, so he's out. Sergey Karasev hasn't returned from his sore left ankle and it's unlikely he plays tonight. And Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is still recovering from surgery.

Doug McDermott left Saturday's game with a sore right knee (the one he had surgery on last year. His status is unknown. Mike Dunleavy underwent surgery before the season started and was expected to miss eight to ten weeks. He suffered a setback recently and his return will be delayed a bit. Pau Gasol didn't play on Saturday after playing 48 minutes the night before against the Pistons. He should be good to go tonight.

The game

2015-2016

Brooklyn

Chicago

Record

7-20 15-10

Pace

98.15 99.51

Offensive Efficiency

97.2 98.3

Defensive Efficiency

104 97.5

Turnover Rate

15.5 14.1

Assist Rate

16 16.5

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23.7 23.5

Rebound Rate

50.3 50.5

Free Throw Rate

22.7 25.6

Effective Field Goal Percentage

47.4 46.7

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

51.9 45.6

The Bulls won the first game on Opening Night.

Coming into the year, there was a lot of discussion about new coach Fred Hoiberg and his plans to make the Bulls a more potent attack on offense. Tom Thibodeau received criticism for years over how he managed minutes, didn't take full advantage of the roster, and the stagnant offensive sets. Hoiberg's hiring was supposed to change all that and make the Bulls a contender. One month in, it's been pretty ugly. Chicago has the: third worst offensive efficiency, fourth worst effective field goal percentage, and seventh worst free throw rate in the league. It's still early, but their inability to consistently score will hurt them come playoff time.

Chicago is fourth in the East, but they're not... good? I know it sounds counterintuitive, but let Seerat Sohi explain:

All the while, Hoiberg introduces new sets, tries every possible lineup combination and hurtles into the same old inevitabilities. Tasked with welding copper-level talent into championship gold — and stop me if any of this sounds familiar — he continually runs into failure, while everyone watching knows that the Bulls, an organization short on risk, are reluctant to make mid-season trades.

On both sides of the court, we're going to be seeing players that are no longer as good as they used to be. For Chicago, it feels like a lifetime ago when Derrick Rose won MVP and helped lead his hometown team to the Conference Finals. These days, he's barely able to finish at the rim, is attempting free throws at a career low rate, shooting even worse from three point range than usual, and is slowly losing his city after he spoke about his free agent situation. To be fair to Rose, he's been dealing with an eye injury all year. The Bulls hope that Rose will play something close to league average ball the rest of the year and if he can, it might get them a top three seed for the playoffs.

For Brooklyn, Joe Johnson's struggles continued on Sunday. He only went 2-10 from the field against the Wolves, although he did hand out six assists. Teams know that Johnson has been awful, and that creates less room for Brook Lopez to work on the inside. The Nets are even worse on offense than the Bulls, but they don't have the personnel Chicago has or the excuse of playing under a new coach.

Player to watch: Jimmy Butler

Butler created a bit of a situation after the loss to the Knicks on Saturday. After the loss to the Knicks, he had this to say about Hoiberg and everything surrounding the team:

"It's not even about being coached a certain way for five years," Butler said. "It's making everybody do their job. We weren't doing what we were supposed to be doing, what we wrote up on that board before the game, and nobody spoke up about it. I did probably not enough times, but I think that he has to hold everybody accountable. From the No. 1 player all the way down to however many guys we got. You got to hold everybody accountable; everybody has to do their job. You win your matchup, you do your job, we win the game."

Oh dear. Butler has been Chicago's best player for a while and it's continued this season. He's shooting a bit worse from the field, but that's not much of a problem as he's a bit more involved in the offense and is still highly efficient. He isn't getting to the basket as much as he did last year, but he's still shooting close to 64 percent on shots inside of three feet. He's also one of the better isolation scorers in the league, so if/when the Bulls find themselves in trouble, they can just get the ball to Butler and count on him to get a good shot off.

Butler should be matched up with Bojan Bogdanovic. Butler is the Bulls' best defender, and with Johnson still in a slump, Bogdanovic has become the Nets' best perimeter scorer. Bogdanovic is the Nets only reliable option from three point range and he'll need to be aggressive early. The Nets usually play better when he takes a bunch of shots, so he should take at least 15 tonight. The Nets need all the help they can get, and Bojan is one of the few that can provide it.

From the Vault

Since both fanbases are annoyed with their teams' play, why not watch Drazen Petrovic and Michael Jordan play against each other instead. That should lift everyone's spirits, right?

More reading: Blog a Bull