NBA

Bulls need DeRozan show to overcome Suns on Friday

By Sports Desk March 17, 2022

The Phoenix Suns have been dominant in the NBA this season, but go up against this year's leading scorer in the NBA, DeMar DeRozan, when the Chicago Bulls come to town on Friday.

Phoenix sit way out on top of the Western Conference at 56-14 and have won seven of their last nine games.

However, the Bulls – fifth in the Eastern Conference at 41-28 – will take solace in the fact the Suns have lost three of their last six home games, though Chicago themselves have lost two straight on the road, winning just two of their last nine overall.

If Billy Donovan's team is to have any chance of pulling off a win in Arizona, they will surely be reliant on DeRozan having another big game.

The 32-year-old has a league-high 1,814 points to his name this season, averaging 27.9 points per game. He has scored at least 21 points in each of his last seven outings, and has only once not managed that many in a game in his last 28 (when he scored 18 vs the Miami Heat).

It would be harsh to say the Bulls are a one-man team, but with Zach LaVine – averaging 24.8 points per game – Lonzo Ball and Patrick Williams all reportedly out injured again, DeRozan will be heavily leaned on once more.

The quality is spread right throughout Monty Williams' Suns though, hence their relentless ability to win games this season.

Devin Booker is their point-scoring leader with an average of 25.8 per game (10th best in the league), ably supported by Deandre Ayton (17.0) and five other players all averaging more than 10 per game.

These two teams have already met once this season when the Suns edged an exciting encounter 127-124 in Chicago in February.

The Bulls will be after revenge at Footprint Center but as with any team that comes up against Phoenix, that is very much easier said than done.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Phoenix Suns – Devin Booker

Against the high-scoring Bulls it will be important to respond in kind, which is exactly what Booker did in their February meeting, matching DeRozan by scoring 38 points, which was immensely helpful given the late comeback from Chicago (41-25 in the fourth quarter).

The 25-year-old has scored at least 30 points in four of his last seven games.

Chicago Bulls – Nikola Vucevic

I mean, strictly speaking it should be DeRozan, but we've covered him (which is also what the Suns are likely to try and do) and so the pressure will come onto Vucevic to step up, particularly in LaVine's absence.

The Montenegrin averages 18.0 points per game this season, third-best at the Bulls, and also averages 11.5 rebounds. His total of 699 rebounds is the sixth-highest in the league.

KEY BATTLES – Watch the threes

Only the Miami Heat (37.4 per cent) have better success from beyond the arc than the Bulls (37.3 per cent) in the league this season.

The Suns (36.6 per cent) are sixth best from downtown, though, and so both will need to be careful not to give too much space for three-point attempts, even though the temptation will be there considering how dangerous both are all over the court.

These two teams are the two best in the NBA this season for field goal percentage (Suns - 48.5, Bulls 48.2).

HEAD-TO-HEAD

As mentioned, the Suns beat the Bulls in February, and have actually won the last four meetings between the two. The last Chicago win came in March 2019 (116-101 in Phoenix).

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