It’s been twenty years since Michael Jordan embarked on his final season (I ignore the Wizards years), and lead the Bulls to a sixth NBA championship.

My, how things have changed.

Instead of players like Steve Kerr, Michael Jordan, Toni Kukoc, and Scottie Pippen donning the red and black, the 2017-18 Bulls throw out Kris Dunn, Denzel Valentine, Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant.

The Nuggets have fed off their supportive home crowds to an 8-2 record in Denver, and are above .500 for the season. They are 2-2 without Paul Millsap, and a win here against the Bulls would go a long way towards making sure they can stay afloat without their talented power forward.

Let’s hope that Pepsi magic rubs off on the Nuggets once again.

The Basics

Who: Chicago Bulls (3-16) at Denver Nuggets (11-9)

When: 7:00 pm MST

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

How to Watch: Altitude, WGN, 950 AM (Denver)

Rival Blog: Blog a Bull

Position Chicago Bulls Denver Nuggets Advantage
PG Kris Dunn Jamal Murray Nuggets
SG Justin Holiday Gary Harris Nuggets
SF Denzel Valentine Juancho Hernangomez Nuggets
PF Lauri Markkanen Kenneth Faried Even
C Robin Lopez Nikola Jokic Nuggets
BENCH Jerian Grant, Bobby Portis, Paul Zipser, Antonio Blakeney, Cristiano Felicio Emmanuel Mudiay, Malik Beasley, Will Barton, Trey Lyles, Mason Plumlee Nuggets

Three things to watch for

Will the Nuggets play defense? The Bulls are a bad, very bad team. Lauri Markkanen is in a bit of a slump, and they don’t really have another option on offense. If the Nuggets can make sure the Finnish rookie doesn’t get hot, it’ll make things a whole lot easier for them on defense.

Be smart on rotations, and don’t give up a lot of points in the paint. This is a bad team, let’s not help them gain the victory.

This is how you tear down for a rebuild. The Nuggets haven’t really torn down for a rebuild in a long, long time. While they missed their window for a top-three pick tank last season, (and a shot at Lonzo Ball) the Bulls are well on their way to a top lottery pick.

They are far under the salary cap, they’re playing their young guys, and seeing what pieces they can pick up now for their next good team. I think it’s unlikely they get back to being contenders with their currrent ownership, but some days it’s hard to see the Nuggets ever being contenders. That’s Nugglife right there.

When the point guards play well, the Nuggets win games. Sometimes in life, the most obvious explanation is the best explanation. Your engine won’t run? It’s out of gas. Your lights won’t turn on? Time to change the bulb. Your baked goods collapse after they’re removed from the oven? You didn’t adjust for altitude.

For the Nuggets, when their two young point guards play well, it’s very likely they are going to win the game. When they play poorly, it’s very likely they are going to lose the game. It’s part of the growing process for the team. The best way for them to improve is through game reps, and that means everyone – front office, coaches, fans – are going to have to be patient with them. Try to think of how things will be long term versus short term. Short term thinking left the Nuggets with Jameer Nelson playing a ton of minutes, while long term thinking left the Nuggets without Jameer Nelson to begin the season.

The splits for Murray & Mudiay seem, at least to me, to help explain the riddle of the Nuggets inconsistencies.

Player MP PTS AST:TO eFG% ORtg DRtg
Jamal Murray (win) 25.9 15.5 1.37 0.571 117 108
Jamal Murray (loss) 27.8 11.9 0.92 0.371 86 118
Emmanuel Mudiay (win) 23.3 12.1 2.00 0.514 106 107
Emmanuel Mudiay (loss) 21.5 8.4 0.96 0.377 86 119