Keys To The Game: Bulls at Thunder (1.24.22)

Remind Me Later

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The Bulls suffered a disappointing loss on Sunday night, falling 94-90 to the Orlando Magic. Orlando still possesses the worst-record in the league at 9-39, but the loss shows just how much the Bulls have been struggling as of late.

Chicago now looks to bounce-back again, this time, on the road against another young team in the Oklahoma City Thunder.

OKC has the second-worst record in the Western Conference behind the Houston Rockets. But as of late, the Thunder have been playing solid basketball with 6-foot-8 rookie guard Josh Giddey alternating between great and poor performances.

Here's what the Bulls need to focus on the get back on track on Monday night.

Keep Josh Giddey out of the paint

The Thunder's best player as of now is likely Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is an excellent drive-and-kick guard who can knock down the 3-point shot. But solid rookie Giddey will be easier to contain.

Shai's 3-point shooting is down as of now (27% from 3 this year, 41% last season) and his struggles are comparable to the 19-year old Giddey, who is also connecting on a poor 27% of his 3-pointers.

If the Bulls commit to forcing Giddey into perimeter shots, then Gilgeous-Alexander will be forced to shoulder most of the scoring load himself, giving the Bulls a better chance at preventing an efficient night from the Thunder offense.

Josh Giddey driving on Jarret Allen

Play at a slower tempo

The Bulls have been at their best when they are attacking in transition but that is about running off of misses, not necessarily playing up-tempo at all times.

With how poorly Chicago protected the ball on Sunday evening, it would behoove the Bulls to slow it down on Monday night. The Bulls had a very uncharacteristic 22 turnovers and only 10 assists in their disappointing loss to Orlando.

Whether Chicago looks to play through DeRozan again or establish Nikola Vucevic early, they will need to make sure they are patient and focused in executing their actions.

DeMar DeRozan dribbles against the Detroit Pistons

Bring reinforcements along slowly

The big news coming out of Monday morning is the possibility that Zach LaVine and Javonte Green may rejoin the Bulls.

Whether or not LaVine and/or Green play under a minutes restriction, you want to make sure that you don't put to much stress on them in their (possible) return.

The Bulls have already experience rough luck with returning players, with Alex Caruso now being out for an extended time after only being back for two games before his eventual return to the shelf.

You obviously can't control injuries or freak accidents happening, but the best thing the Bulls can do is make sure to keep playing mostly through the players who played in Orlando on Sunday night, while adding in light contributions from any returning rotation players.

Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon
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