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Bulls in Brooklyn as Nets try to recover from Monday loss

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Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Okay, the Nets aren’t the hottest team in the NBA over the last seven weeks. After Monday’s loss to the Celtics, the Nets hotness crown has been passed to the Warriors. Sad, but we’ll take it ... being in the Warriors company nearly two-thirds of the way into the (regular) season.

Now that the Nets’ five-game winning streak is over, the Nets return to Brooklyn and a chance to make the home crowd happy again. The Nets are on an eight-game home winning streak and have lost one game in Brooklyn since the first week of December. That qualifies as home court dominance.

The Bulls, who are tanking and Not Good, are next up. It’ll be at home in the Barclays Center, and despite being a back-to-back it is a chance to steal a win during what would otherwise be a schedule loss against most other teams. Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES and WFAN at 7:30 pm, ET

Injuries

Caris LeVert (foot) Spencer Dinwiddie (finger) Allen Crabbe (knee) and Jared Dudley (hamstring) are out. Treveon Graham (back) didn’t play against Boston. His situation is unknown as of Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, Dzanan Musa (shoulder) is back in Long Island for what is certainly a rehab tour. Long Island plays Wednesday night.

Wendell Carter Jr. (thumb) Chandler Hutchison (toe) and Denzel Valentine (ankle) are out for the Bulls. Carmelo Anthony isn’t with the team and Jabari Parker while healthy has been back-and-forth to the bench as the Bulls try to trade him.

The Game

The Bulls are 11-39 and don’t pose too much of a threat on a nightly basis mostly because they’re trying to lose games. Led by Lauri Markkanen, the injured Wendell Carter Jr. and Zach LaVine, Chicago has a decent young core on which they hope to build a future. The #1 overall pick would help, but otherwise as far as tanking teams go this one has the bones to take it the distance.

Other than the Blue-Chippers, this team is filled out with your usual scrap heap money savers like Wayne Selden, Ryan Arcidiacono in addition to likely future waiver wire players like Robin Lopez.

As a team, Chicago scores just 101.1 points per game which is 29th in the league. They don’t rebound or shoot or pass well, ranking close to last in the league in all of those categories (assists for passing) which, compared to the Nets who are close to best in the league in a number of categories since the calendar flipped to 2019, makes for a good matchup ... for Brooklyn. The Bulls last game was Sunday when they lost to the Cavaliers.

On the second halves of back-to-backs, the burden of performing well oftentimes falls on bench players who don’t have as many miles on their legs. Guys like Shabazz Napier, who’s been playing well lately especially in the absence of Spencer Dinwiddie. In his last 13, Napier is scoring 12.9 points per game with 3.5 assists and shooting a not-great 40 percent from the field and 35 percent from three. The Nets don’t necessarily need Napier to be a high percentage shooter because what he bring off of the bench is energy and scoring, but if there were an aspect of his game that could be improved upon, efficiency might be one. The winner of two NCAA championships while at UConn has a rep for being hard-working ... and ready.

And of course, D’Angelo Russell only played 23 minutes up in Boston.

With all of the injuries plaguing the Nets at the moment, there aren’t too many guys left to take a step up off of the bench and this game kind of feels like it could be a “Mitch-Creek-and-Theo-Pinson-play-a-ton-of-minutes-to-get-some-run” game. If this is the case, I’m ok with it. This team has been playing so hard to keep their current streak of success alive while dealing with what seems like an endless cycle of injury after injury. Taking a schedule loss on a back-to-back to avoid overworking the guys who are left is not the worst idea.

Player To Watch

Robin Lopez, twin brother to Brook, will always hold a special place at least to me just by being so closely linked with the Nets legend. I mean, if Robin cut his hair we literally would not be able to tell them apart. Unless we saw their jump shots.

Robin is a screen-setting, rim-running, system center that might be useful to some teams down the stretch of the season who need some backup big man help. He’s averaging just six points three rebounds and one assist per game but he would be useful to a team who knows how to use him correctly.

From The Vault

Robin Lopez is also famous for beating up mascots. I love it.

Enjoy.

For a different perspective, move your cursor to Blog-a-Bull, our sister site on SB Nation.