GAME DAY FROM THE UNITED CENTER: Brooklyn (34-15, 14-9 on the road) at Bulls (19-28, 9-16 at home). 1PM CT.
RADIO: WBBM 780 AM: Chuck Swirsky and Bill Wennington 12:45 pre.
TV: NBCSC: Adam Amin and Stacey King. 1PM.
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: LaVine: 27ppg. Nets: Irving: 27ppg.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Vucevic: 11per. Nets: Jordan: 7per.
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Satoransky: 4.8 per. Nets: Irving: 5per.
CCI PREVIEW: The schedule doesn't let up as the Bulls make a quick one-game stop in Chicago, hosting the EC leading Brooklyn Nets, atop the Conference standings for the first time since April 2003.
Brooklyn is flat out loaded and doing serious damage in the NBA without having three superstars on the floor together. Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have appeared in only three games together. Three. Yet, they've won 20 of their last 23 including seven straight. The Nets can beat you in a variety of ways. Harden can take you off the dribble or drain a three ball. Irving has a nasty handle and is a volume scorer. Durant is Durant. Brooklyn just added LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin to bolster their already fortified team so depth is NOT an issue. In my opinion, the only thing stopping the Nets from winning the EC is whether they can go through a playoff run healthy. Remember, the Nets are winning even without players such as Durant and Spencer Dinwiddie. Harden will miss today's game with a hamstring issue. Durant could return tomorrow against the Knicks. Dinwiddie's season is over with a torn ACL. They however are in a battle for home court advantage in the EC, whatever "home court" means in these Covid times. The road weary Bulls will need to bring their "A" game and be ready to play early afternoon ball at the United Center.
The Bulls hit the road after today's game and while the road can wear you down mentally and physically, it is what it is. All the more reason for the Bulls to bring their "A" game against the Nets. The Bulls have dropped six straight and eight of nine. The Bulls need huge games from Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic today. The bench must step up and match the Nets production.
Normally, afternoon games take time for teams to get in a groove but for the Bulls they need to be ready from the opening tip. Meantime, the Nets are in a fierce battle for the top seed in the East to conquer home court advantage when the playoffs begin in mid-May. Every game is important for the Nets who are "all in."
CCI 24 SECONDS NBA NEWS AND NOTES:
Utah 137, Orlando 91: The Jazz won their 22nd straight home game.The undermanned Magic played only their eight available players. Otto Porter Jr. sat out with a left foot injury. Wendell Carter Jr. had a 19-12 game in 34 minutes.
Indiana 139, San Antonio 134 OT: A huge road win for the slumping Pacers. Caris LeVert scored 26 points. The Pacers were without Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb.
New York 125, Detroit 81: Julius Randle scored 20 of his 29 points in the first quarter. It was the largest margin of victory for the Knicks since 1996.
Milwaukee 129, Sacramento 128: Jrue Holiday scored a season-high 33 points and chipped in 11 assists and seven rebounds. The Bucks have won three straight.
Philadelphia 122, Minnesota 113: Joel Embiid returned to the lineup after missing ten games and delivered a 24 points, eight rebounds game.
Portland 133, Oklahoma City 85: The Trailblazers led 35-19 after the opening quarter. Eight Trailblazers scored in double figures. Portland led by as many as 52 points.
Dallas 109, Washington 87: The Mavs won their fourth straight. Rick Carlisle returned to the Mavs sideline after missing Friday's game after testing positive for Covid-19. Later tests revealed it to be a false positive.
Miami 115, Cleveland 101: The Heat lit up the Cavs with seven double figure scorers.
Gordon Hayward will be sidelined for at least the next four weeks with a sprained foot, the Hornets announced Saturday.