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Preview: Denver Nuggets vs. Chicago Bulls, 7pm

The Chicago Bulls come to the mile high city to take on the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night in a matchup of teams with new coaches and attitudes.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Quick overview: The Chicago Bulls are coming to the state of Colorado to take on the Denver Nuggets.  The game will be in Boulder, but it's still a home crowd and at altitude which should hurt teams still rounding into shape even more than usual.  Unfortunately, the Nuggets are one of those teams too, which means this game might test the depth of both squads.

The Bulls have a new head coach in Fred Hoiberg, a new offensive philosophy built around 3-point shooting, non-traditional bigs, and a need as great as Denver's to change the culture.

Let's get to the particulars, shall we?

What: the Denver Nuggets vs. the Chicago Bulls

When: 7:00 pm MT on Thursday, October 8th

Where: the Coors Events Center, Boulder CO

Televised: WPWR in Chicago, nothing in the Denver market or nationally

Bulls previous starting lineup: E'Twaun Moore, Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell, Nikola Mirotic and Joakim Noah.

Normal starter also expected to play: Pau Gasol (took the last game off for more rest to recover from Eurobasket)

Less likely to play: Kirk Hinrich (toe injury), Taj Gibson (ankle surgery recovery),  Mike Dunleavy (back surgery recovery), Derrick Rose (7th degree elbow-face contusion)

Three things you should know about the opponent:

1) The Bulls jacked up 39 three-point attempts in their 105-95 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in their first preseason game.  How often has that happened before in their regular or post-season history?  Never. It's never happened before. The Chicago record for team three-point attempts in a regular or postseason game is 34, set in a double OT loss to the Nets in 2004.  If you were wondering how Hoiberg would implement his freer offensive principles developed as the coach of Iowa State, there's your answer. This will not be the same walk-it-up, grind-it-out Bulls team.

2) Jimmy Butler is still The Man. If Jimmy really doesn't care much for Rose's work ethic, then he's probably not all that worried about when the supposed leader of the Bulls is coming back - especially because Butler is looking to surpass Rose as the team's leader. Butler was tremendous against the Bucks in 25 minutes, his posterization by Khris Middleton aside.  If Rose either doesn't want to lead the Bulls or simply can't due to his consistent injury woes, Butler is there to take up the slack and throw his name in as the best player on the court.  If any of our guards would like to make a name for themselves on defense as a way to stand out from the pack, locking up Butler for a few possessions would be a nice start.

3) McBuckets looks far more comfortable in Hoiberg's offense. Doug McDermott, who spent five or six entire minutes thinking he might be a Denver Nugget before he was traded to the Bulls for what turned out to be Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris, was lost under former coach Tom Thibodeau. Defense is not Doug's strong suit, and Thibs never saw a 3-point shot he was in favor of, so the environment was not conducive to raising McDermott's confidence.  Doug put up 19 points on 8-for-19 shooting in the first preseason game and then had this to say about his new coach and scheme:

"He makes it fun. He makes it a lot of fun for us. We just move the ball real well, real unselfish, get open looks. He's not going to pull you out if you [take] a bad shot. It's one of those deals where he just lets you play your game."

Fun was not something Tom Thibodeau was accused of very often.  Hoiberg still has to win to continue to engender that sort of gushing from his players, but the change in atmosphere and style suits McDermott in the early going - which means the Bulls might not regret their trade with us too much after all.

One problem the Nuggets want to solve in this game:

1) Turnovers 2, Nuggets 0. It starts with Mudiay.  As Michael Malone said in yesterday's camp interview, him making turnovers while having the right read is acceptable, but he wants Mudiay to slow down early in the gmae, and the whole team needs to take better care of the ball.  Denver had 22 turnovers in the last game, with Mudiay tossing away seven of them.  Holding on to the ball will be crucial, since the Bulls will be hard-pressed to miss as many threes as the Mavericks did in the last game.

Prediction: The Nuggets will wear down the Bulls with the help of the altitude and Chicago's injury-shortened bench.  I expect both teams to cross the 100 point barrier as the Bulls rain down another three-point barrage, but Mudiay will keep the ball under control tonight and lead Denver to victory in front of the Nuggets faithful who made the trek to Boulder.

Final Score: Denver 106, Chicago 101