Keys to the Game: Bulls at Magic (12.23.19)

The Bulls wrap up a four-game road swing before celebrating the holidays shooting for their third straight win (and fourth in their last five) by visiting Central Florida to take on the Orlando Magic. Chicago hits the hardwood sporting a 12-19 record after beating Detroit on Saturday, 119-107.

Once again Zach LaVine led the way against the Pistons with game-high 33 points, along with five rebounds and five assists. The 24-year old, 6'5 guard went 9–for-15 (60%) from the floor, including 5-for-7 (71.4%) from long distance, and 10-for-14 from the charity stripe. It was the fifth time this season he has scored at least 30 points while shooting 50% or better from the field and 3-point range.

However, Saturday's victory was not a one-man show. Rookie Coby White stormed off the Chicago bench to add 19 points, while starter Tomas Satoransky chipped in 16 along with eight rebounds, five dimes and two steals. Wendell Carter Jr. also posted his 14th double-double on the year, with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and forward Lauri Markkanen posted a 15 and seven night, as well as a pair of blocked shots.

As a team, Chicago shot an impressive 51.9% (40-for-77) from the field and 51.4% (18-for-35) from behind the arc. The Bulls also outrebounded Detroit, 46-29.

The Magic return home at 12-17 after dropping three of four on the road. In their last game Friday against Portland, they fell, 118-103. All-Star center Nikola Vucevic pulled his weight by posting 23 points, 12 rebounds and six steals, and former Bulls guard DJ Augustine also had a productive game with 17 points off the pine, however as a whole the Magic had a tough shooting night against the Blazers, connecting on only 39-of-106 attempts (36.8%), and 7-of-28 (25%) from behind the bend. Portland also controlled the boards, 54-48.

For the Bulls to claim another victory tonight they're going to need to deliver a hardnosed, blue-collar effort at both ends of the floor. To achieve success they must play an unselfish offensive game, freely sharing the ball with one another, consistently skipping it from player-to-player and from side-to-side, while aggressively looking to exploit every opportunity to attack the paint, driving the ball to the front of the rim to force contact, making their way to the free throw line time and again.

All five Chicagoans must stay involved in the action — on both sides of the ball. Offensively the Bulls simply can't allow the offense to morph into a series of isolation, one-on-one contests. Crisp and steady ball movement, along with a willingness to make the extra pass, hunting open looks at the rim, is vital.

Defensively Chicago must provide a tough-minded, fully committed effort with everyone attaching themselves to their assigned man without continuously fouling. Collectively, the Bulls must also go all out, fighting and scrapping for every rebound and loose ball.

Chicago comes in ranking first in the league in forcing opponent turnovers (18.5) and scoring off turnovers (21.9). To end up as the last team standing this evening they'll need to continue doing what they do best while also knowing when to aggressively jump passing lanes and double-team the ball, forcing Orlando to scramble and fall back onto its heels.