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Denver Nuggets Vs. Chicago Bulls Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

Preview: Shorthanded Nuggets take on the Bulls in Chicago

The Nuggets hope to win back-to-back games in two of the biggest basketball markets, New York and Chicago.

After snapping an 8 game losing streak the Denver Nuggets are fresh off a huge win versus the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden. Now they will take on the Chicago Bulls in the middle of a 7 game road trip, there are still 4 road games left to go. The Bulls look like a top team in the NBA this season so the Nuggets will have to fight hard if they want to win this game.

The Nuggets currently sit at 11-11 and are in a four-way tie for 5th in the Western Conference. The Nuggets bench will be short-staffed again tonight with numerous players out with health and safety protocols as well as general injuries. I would expect Zeke Nnaji and Facu Campazzo as well as newly signed Nugget, Davon Reed, to play more than usual tonight.

The Chicago Bulls are having their best season in recent franchise history. The Bulls went out and got Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso this offseason. Those acquisitions were initially heavily criticized but they have appeared to be some of the best from the offseason. The Bulls are currently 16-8 and have sole possession of 2nd place in the Eastern Conference. They are fresh off a win versus the number 1 seed in the east, the Brooklyn Nets.

Essentials:

Who?- The Denver Nuggets (11-11) and the Chicago Bulls (16-8)

When?- 6:00 PM (MST)

Where?- The United Center

How to watch?- NBA League Pass and NBC Sports Chicago. I wish you the best of luck.

Expected Starters?-

Chicago Bulls: PG- Lonzo Ball, SG- Zach LaVine, SF- DeMar DeRozan, PF- Derrick Jones Jr., C- Nikola Vucevic

Denver Nuggets: PG- Monte Morris, SG- Will Barton, SF- Aaron Gordon, PF- Jeff Green, C- Nikola Jokic

Injuries?-

Chicago: Alex Caruso- hamstring (doubtful), Coby White- protocols (OUT), Javonte Green- protocols (OUT)

Denver: Jamal Murray- ACL (OUT), Michael Porter Jr.- back surgery (OUT), PJ Dozier- ACL (OUT), Bones Hyland- protocols (OUT), Austin Rivers- protocols (OUT), Bol Bol- protocols (OUT)

Rival Blog- Blog a Bull

Three Things to Watch for:

How do the Nuggets react to elite on-ball defenders?

Facing a top defense in the league could be rough for the Nuggets. While the Bulls could be without their best on-ball defender in Alex Caruso, they still have Lonzo Ball. Ball has come a long way from when he was drafted by the Lakers in 2017, he now is one of the best 3 and D players in the league. Rookie Ayo Dosunmu will step up in Caruso’s absence, he has been better than anticipated in his limited action so far. Dosunmu is a great defender and he was someone I liked before the draft and was hoping he’d be a Nugget. The Bulls are full of wing defenders so this could be a rough game for Will Barton or Aaron Gordon.

The Nuggets feeding the paint:

The Bulls are led in the paint by Nikola Vucevic who is not regarded as a terrific paint defender, Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets need to take advantage of that. The backup center for the Bulls is Tony Bradley so if Vucevic gets into foul trouble it could mean trouble for them. Jokic has been taking advantage of Bradley in the post since he was a member of the Utah Jazz. Vucevic also won’t be able to do much about Aaron Gordon cutting to the rim if he can get open.

Can Zeke Nnaji keep it up?

Zeke Nnaji is coming fresh off the best game of his career. He scored 21 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, shot a perfect 2-2 from three and led the whole Nuggets roster with 34 minutes played. He did it all under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden too. If Zeke can keep this level of play up he can be a huge piece for the future of the Nuggets organization. He will likely be matched up with Derrick Jones Jr., Alize Johnson, or Tony Bradley. None of those guys match up especially great with Zeke so let’s hope he can continue where he left off from last game and take advantage of the matchups and shots he’s given.

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