CHICAGO – Some people might have done a double-take when they took a look a the time of this match-up at the United Center.
A tipoff of 9 PM?
That’s usually reserved for Bulls’ games that are played on the West Coast, and most times that comes in November when the team traditionally plays out that way around Thanksgiving. But Wednesday’s game is indeed scheduled for 9 PM, and it will put two of the best teams in the NBA in the national spotlight.
The Bulls come into their game with a 2 1/2 game lead of the second place Nets in the Eastern Conference seeking another signature win in what’s been a breakthrough season for this new era of the team. Billy Donovan’s team comes in having won ten of their last 11 games, including a 46-point demolition of the Pistons at home on Tuesday night.
This will be the second match-up of the teams this season, with the Bulls winning the first match-up on December 4th 111-107 in Brooklyn behind Zach LaVine’s 31 points. Since that game, the Nets are 9-7, but they have added a critical player back to their group.
Guard Kyrie Irving, who didn’t play against the Bulls in December, made his first appearance for the team on January 5th against the Pacers then played against the Trail Blazers on Monday. He scored 22 points in each contest, with Brooklyn beating Indiana but losing to Portland on the road.
Despite being questionable for the game with an ankle injury, Irving is expected to play along with Harden, who is dealing with knee ailment. The fact that the Bulls will face the Nets’ “Big Three” is an exciting prospect for DeMar DeRozan, who scored 29 points in the December victory in Brooklyn.
“A complete dynamic ‘Three-Headed Monster’ team that they are,” said DeRozan when asked about facing the Nets with Irving. “Having those guys, having Kyrie, one of the most dominant point guards in this league coming back, it’s good for the game, first of all.
“I’m pretty sure it’s great for Brooklyn. We’d love to see them full strength.”
Indeed they will, even if it’s a bit later than they’re used to at home.