The United Center hosts two teams in need of a victory. While the Chicago Bulls are (2-1), their play has been less than inspiring and they face an Orlando Magic (0-2).
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, November 1st at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. According to the NBA Odds board, the Bulls are a 7.5 point betting favorite and the total for the game is listed at 199. Normally, I would think this spread is low, but it's the beginning of the season and the Magic have been quite competitive in their two losses. Will they make it 3 consecutive competitive games is the question that need's to be answered.
Mirotic Becoming a Factor
The one thing that I've noticed since the beginning of the season is the emergence of Nikola Mirotic. While Pau Gasol, who is averaging just 11.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, has had a dramatic drop in numbers, Mirotic has been the recipient as he's now moved into the starting rotation.
There's no question that this big man is filled with talent. He can shoot from the outside and battle in the paint. He can basically do it all and his numbers indicate this. In the 3 games this season thus far, Mirotic is averaging 19.7 points, 8 rebounds, 50% from beyoind the arc, over 90 % from the free throw line; shall I go on. Point being, Mirotic has been unstoppable while Gasol has yet to get on track.
In my opinion, it's difficult to have two big men such as this that want to be the man. Gasol is on the tail end of his prime and Mirotic has an entire career ahead of him. Look for the Bulls to sort this out as Gasol has averaged under 10 points in their wins. Chicago won't be a championship team if Pau Gasol isn't a major factor. His experience is invaluable despite the talent of Mirotic.
With Derrick Rose and all of his injury and mental issues, Jimmy Butler is the main source of offense on this Bulls squad and he's a flatout star. Butler can shoot the basketball, averaging 21.3 point per game (26 ppg in wins) and can also rebound and play top-notch defense. While Butler and Mirotic are the stars, this team needs to find a way to distribute the ball more evenly and not alienate it's aging stars and I see this issue working its way out through the season. Remember, the Bulls have only played 3 games this season. This is an established team with tons of talent and deserves to be a legitimate favorite in this matchup.
Even though the Orlando Magic suffered two very tough losses thus far, this is a team with a ton of young talent. Tobias Harris has been on fire in the first two games of the season, averaging 22.5 points, 8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. I don't know if he'll keep up this pace, but Harris is capable of putting up 40 points on any given night.
Victor Oladipo is ever so reliable and there's been no dropoff in his 2 starts of the season, almost averaging a "20-10" along with 6 assists. Let's not forget the big man as Nikola Vucevic is good for 18 points and 7 rebounds per game. Vucevic will never be an elite player, but he produces, and then there's the "x-factor" in Elfrid Payton. Payton is the type of player that will do whatever the team needs to win the ball game and he will only get better.
Room For One More?
Now, Aaron Gordon has gotten into the mix with a strong start to his sophomore season, averaging 13.5 points, 5 rebounds and 1 block per game. If Gordon can continue to progress, this team will move up a level in success in this league and we've already seen that in the first two games of the season.
I look for the Magic to give Chicago some trouble. Depsite losing their first two games, they're becoming a confident basketball team. Expect a close game tonight.