Keys To The Game: Bulls vs. Nuggets (12.6.21)

Remind Me Later


The Bulls enter Monday night sitting 0.5 games back of the top spot in the Eastern Conference, though they hold the tie-breaker over the Nets with their two victories in the three-game series that completes on January 12.

Chicago goes for a sweep of the Denver Nuggets on Monday night. The Nuggets fell to the Bulls in Denver, 114-108, with Zach LaVine chipping in a huge 36-point night.

In the Bulls initial victory over the Nuggets, reigning MVP Nikola Jokic was out. Jokic is slated to play on Monday, coming fresh off of a 32-point, 11-rebound double-double in a win over the New York Knicks.

Chicago and Co. would have a four-game winning streak if they knock off Denver, a win that would mean a lot consider Denver's level of play with Jokic in tow.

Smart Defensive Rotations

The Denver Nuggets are one of the best teams in the league in terms of moving the ball. Much like Lonzo Ball in Chicago, Jokic's willingness to give up the ball is contagious.

Jokic has led Denver to have five players outside of himself average at least two assists per game. Because of Denver's willingness to make the extra pass, Chicago must show great attention to detail when scrambling on defense.

Billy Donovan and the Bulls coaching staff has clearly worked with the team on sharpening their defensive rotations and the work has paid off. The Bulls have still maintained a top-10 defensive rating but the Nuggets will push the Bulls' defensive IQ to its limits.

Lonzo Ball guarding James Harden

Deny Shot Attempts For Nikola Jokic

It should come as no surprise that once again, the Nuggets offense runs through Jokic almost exclusively in the absence of Jamal Murray.

Per, Jokic has a career-high 31.7% usage rate. In the Nuggets win over the Knicks, Jokic had 19 field goal attempts while the next leading shot-taker was Will Barton and second-year forward Zeke Nnaji.

Simply put, if the Bulls force the ball out of Jokic's hands as much as possible, it gives them a clear avenue to a no-frills win with Barton unlikely able to handle the bulk of the scoring load alone.

Nikola Jokic shot over Mitchell Robinson

Get Zach LaVine Going Towards The Basket

Zach LaVine is one of the best slashers in the league. Simply put, LaVine is almost impossible to stop when he is driving towards the rim at full speed.

LaVine collected a season-high 13 free throw attempts in Brooklyn on Saturday night. Free throws serve a special importance for the Bulls, who value those brief stoppages to help them gain spurts of energy to support their pressure-heavy defense.

LaVine and DeMar DeRozan are the Bulls best options to generate easy trips to the charity stripe. DeRozan has continued to get the line at a high-rate but LaVine is only just now starting to heat up in terms of free throw attempt rate.

Billy Donovan and the Bulls coaching staff should work on even more ways to get LaVine in motion but moving towards the rim, to further encourage his foul drawing-forays to the basket.

Zach LaVine tough layup vs. Brooklyn Nets

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