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Game Preview: Sputtering Bulls battle streaking Suns

The Bulls make their annual trip to Phoenix on Wednesday night.

Chicago Bulls v Phoenix Suns Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

What: Phoenix Suns (14-6) vs. Chicago Bulls (8-11)

When: 7:00 p.m. AZ Time

Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona

Watch: Bally Sports AZ

Listen: 98.7 FM

DraftKings Betting Lines: Suns -5.5, O/U 227, Suns Moneyline -215

The Phoenix Suns, winners of their past five games, continue to expertly navigate their schedule, despite being without starters Chris Paul and Cameron Johnson. During their current winning streak, the team is getting it done not on the offensive end – they have averaged 114.8 points, which is 13th in the NBA during that time span – but doing so on the defensive end.

During their streak, the Suns are allowing 106.2 points per game. They have a defensive rating of 105 — best in the NBA over the five games. In short? This team is getting it done on the defensive side of the ball. You can thank the shot deterrence of Deandre Ayton and the flexibility of Mikal Bridges and the new (shorthanded) rotations figuring things out.

Chicago enters the game playing their fourth game on a six city road trip. They are 2-1 thus far on the trip, having beat the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City by seven points on Monday. 33 year-old veteran DeMar DeRozan leads the team in scoring at 26.2 points, the 12th best total in the league.

It’s been an up and down season for Chicago as they too are navigating injuries to key players, most notably Lonzo Ball. The team didn’t do much in the offseason to improve their roster, opting to run it back in hopes that the team that started last year 39-21 could stay healthy enough to mirror those efforts.

They ended the season 7-15 and lost in five games to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round.

Starting Lineups



  • Chris Paul (right heel soreness) is OUT
  • Cameron Johnson (knee) is OUT
  • Jae Crowder (where for art thou Jae) is NOT WITH TEAM


  • Lonzo Ball (knee) is OUT
  • Goran Dragic (neck) is GAME TIME DECISION
  • Derrick Jones, Jr. (thumb) is GAME TIME DECISION
  • Alex Caruso (ankle) is GAME TIME DECISION
  • Ayo Dosunmu (knee) is GAME TIME DECISION

Uniform Matchup

90’s night baby!

What to Watch For

Deandre. Ayton. Plain and simple.

The Western Conference Player of the Week, when playing against Nikola Vucevic, has been something of a conundrum. In games in which they played against each other, Vucevic has averaged 19.9 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 2 assists. Conversely, Deandre Ayton is averaging 14.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assist. He also has averaged 1.1 blocks.

The conundrum? The Suns are 6-2 in games in which these two bigs have battled

Ayton is currently on a heater, playing some of the best basketball in his career. He has had trouble with bigger, stockier centers. In this game, although we’d love to have some of those sweet and sexy slams, Ayton’s primary goal is to negate Vucevic.

Vooch is having a rough season, averaging 15.6 points, his lowest total since 2013-14. Attack him, DA. Attack and destroy.

Fun Fact

The last time the Phoenix Suns played the Chicago Bulls wearing their purple sunburst uniforms? November 9, 1999. Tom Gugliotta led the way with 19 points and 12 rebounds — 6 on the offensive end — to beat Elton Brand and the Bulls 103-80.

NBAE via Getty Images

Keys to a Suns Win

The Bulls are a team that does not have an affinity for the three-point line. They average the 30th most attempted threes per game. With the master of the mid-range, DeMar DeRozan, you can expect plenty of jump shots from Chicago.

How the Suns navigate guarding the mid-range, doing what they can to avoid the screens of Nikola Vucevic, will determine how successful they’ll be in this game. We saw them get carved to pieces by the Malik Monk and Domantas Sabonis pick-and-roll game in Sacramento.

Chicago surely had scouts at that game and took note of some of the miscommunications occurring by the Suns’ defense. Watch for Phoenix to try to avoid allowing Chicago the same success the Sacramento had.


The Suns are a league-best 11-1 at home. While Chicago is feeling good about defeating a fledging Jazz team, the Suns are a different beast.

I’m looking to get my first W covering the Suns this season for Bright Side. Ayton scores 22 points, Booker gets 35, Suns win.

Suns 119, Bulls 107

When the game is over, join the Suns JAM Session Podcast as we discuss the game live on YouTube:

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