Lopez comes up with a hook shot, as the Bulls beat the Knicks

Chuck's Daily Check In 12.11.17

Chuck Checks In On The Bulls, and Previews The Game Against The Celtics

GAME NIGHT FROM THE UNITED CENTER: Boston: (23-5, 11-3 on the road) At Bulls: (5-20, 3-8 at home)

TV: WGN TV: Neil Funk and Stacey King 7PM CT.
RADIO: WLS 890AM : Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington, Steve Kashul.

LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: Markkanen and Holiday each with 14ppg. Boston: Irving: 23ppg.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Markkanen: 8. Boston: Horford:8
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Dunn: 5. Celtics: Horford: 5

KEYS TO THE GAME: Riding the small wave of a two game win streak the Bulls have proven when they play with energy throughout forty- eight minutes and value possessions, good things happen. The addition of Niko Mirotic has bolstered the Bulls bench enabling them to continue spreading the floor when Markkanen goes to the bench. David Nwaba has been fabulous since returning from an ankle injury. Bobby Portis is a double figure scorer off the bench and Jerian Grant has settled in as the reserve point guard. I expect the Bulls starters to bring heavy duty passion tonight and the bench must match it if they expect to get in a competitive fourth quarter game with the Celtics.

DUNN ON THE RUN: The second year pro out of Providence is enjoying his new home, new system and new numbers. Last season in Minnesota, Dunn averaged 17 minutes in 78 games. This season his production has increased to 28 minutes per. Last year he shot 37% from the field. The year: 43%. Three point shooting has dramatically increased from 28% to 41%. Free throw shooting continues to be a work in progress; last year 61%, this season - 63%. But the scoring margin jumps out at you. Last year, Dunn averaged 3.8 per game. This season a whopping nine point increase. That’s impressive. The numbers: Kris Dunn last season: 3.8ppg. 2-rebounds. 2 assists. 2017-18: 12.8ppg. 4 rebounds 5 assists. He is now third in the NBA in steals at two per game. I rest my case. The Bulls received Dunn, the seventh pick (Markkanen) and oh, how could we forget? Zach Lavine in the Minnesota trade. It was a win-win for everyone.

CCI ON BOSTON: The Celtics lost a heart breaker in San Antonio Friday but bounced back with a Sunday 91-81 win at Detroit. Al Horford with another day at the office: 18points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists. Aron Baynes pulled down 13 rebounds. The Celtics held their opponent to fewer than 90 points for the 7th time this season. They held their opponents below 90 six times last season.

Gordon Hayward goes down in his first game as a Celtic as Boston losses its first two contests and the naysayers are writing the Celtics obituary . Not so fast, my friends ! Boston reeled off 16 straight wins behind Kyrie Irving, a legit candidate for MVP, although his former teammate in Cleveland will have something to say about that. Celtics GM Danny Ainge did some heavy lifting in the off season and made a number of solid moves including trading the number one overall pick to Philadelphia for the third overall selection (Jayson Tatum) and a future number one choice. All Tatum has done is average 14 points, five rebounds, shooting a three point league high percentage of 52%. Tatum is a big time player., a special player. Want more Tatum numbers? Past five games he’s shooting. 60% from the field, 67% from 3pt country averaging 16 points and 6 rebounds.

CCI QUESTION OF THE DAY: With or without Gordon Hayward, can Boston beat the Cavs in a seven game series?

NBA NEWS AND NOTES

So who won the Indy-OKC trade? Take a hard look at Victor Oladipo’s numbers, All Star numbers in an OT victory over Denver. 47 points (career high) 7 rebounds 6 assists. I’m a believer and no, I’m not taking the last train to Clarksville. (Google "The Monkeys") BTW, the Nuggets blew a 19 point first half lead.

After losing in Chicago, the Knicks at MSG handed ATL its 20th loss of the season. NY’s Michael Beasley fouled in ten minutes and scored one point.

Joel Embiid was a late scratch with back tightness. His 76ers lost at NOLA as Jrue Holiday poured in 34 (5 - 3s in the 4th quarter). Rajon Rondo dished out 18 assists.

Minnesota has won back to back games for the first time since mid November as Dallas falls to 7-20. Dennis Smith Jr. missed his second straight game with a hip strain.

The Raptors won their sixth straight to move to ten games over .500. Don’t look now but the Kings are ten UNDER .500 at 8-18.

Carmelo Anthony has started in every one of his first 1,000 career games. The only other player to do this in NBA history is Patrick Ewing.

Totally unrelated but I wanted to share a quick story on Alan Trammell, who along with another ex Tigers’ teammate, Jack Morris, will be inducted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame announced Sunday.

It’s mid July, 1978. The All Star Game is over and players fly in to their respective cities to begin the second half of the season. The Tigers resumed their schedule in my hometown of Seattle where I was working at the time. A very dear and life long friend was the legendary Ernie Harwell, HOF announcer of the Tigers. Ernie arrived from Detroit and I picked him up at the airport in the concourse area. As we were walking to the parking garage we heard a loud voice, "Ernie..got room for one more?" It was Trammel. "Sure, why not," I said, knowing I'm driving a two door Toyota Cellica (Google). So as the three of us are nearing an escalator, one more voice is heard, "Ernie, Tram, I need a ride." It was outfielder Ron LeFlore. So here I am with Ernie Harwell, Alan Trammell and Ron LeFlore. As we approach my tiny vehicle they looked at each other and said, "OK, let’s roll." Four human beings with large suitcases as I drove on I-5 from SeaTac airport to a downtown hotel. Ernie is nearly on my lap. Tram and LeFlore are buried in luggage. We arrived safely and it was all good. I’ll never forget that day and the patience of all three individuals.

Thanks for reading CCI. Email me at cswirsky@bulls.com or Twitter: @ctsbulls.

Always a pleasure!

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