Matchup Preview: Orlando Magic vs Chicago Bulls


Over the next month, we’ll be talking with a variety of people who cover each NBA team to find out a little bit about their team, and how they expect the season to go. We’ll also find out what they believe will be the most intriguing matchup when the two team’s meet during the regular season. Continuing with the Central Division, we look at the Chicago Bulls with the help of Nylon Calculus‘ Kevin Ferrigan. You can follow Kevin on twitter @NBAcouchside

Game Dates 

Tuesday, November 4th @ Chicago 

Monday, January 12th @ Chicago

Sunday, February 8th @ Orlando 

Wednesday, April 8th @ Orlando 

Last Season: 48-34; Finished Fourth in Eastern Conference; Lost to Washington in First Round 

December 16th: Chicago 82 Orlando 83

January 15th: Orlando 125 Chicago 128 3OT 

April 14th: Chicago 108 Orlando 95

Projected Starters

Point Guard: Derrick Rose

Shooting Guard: Jimmy Butler

Small Forward: Mike Dunleavy 

Power Forward: Pau Gasol 

Center: Joakim Noah 

Nov 22, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (1) yells at the officials and is given a technical foul during the third quarter of the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center. The Blazers won the game 98-95. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Q: After missing almost all of the last two seasons, what are fair expectations from Derrick Rose this season? What do you want to see out of him over the course of the year?

A: I have a lot of trouble with this. I really want and hope for him to be his old amazing self, but that just doesn’t seem all that realistic. It’s even more unrealistic when you look at how poorly he played in the FIBA World Cup and his 10 games of playing time last season. If he can be a league average point guard and stay healthy all year, that’s probably the most for which you can reasonably hope.

Apr 14, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) during the second half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Q: What’s the next step for Jimmy Butler in his development? Is this the year he takes the next step? 

A: Ideally, Jimmy’s next step is being a competent offensive basketball player. For most of his career, he just hasn’t been. He’s good at moving off the ball, getting to the line, and patrolling the baseline opportunistically, but he basically can’t shoot and he’s almost a complete non-factor off-the-dribble. So yeah, hopefully he can knock down the open looks he ought to have available to him this season and get a little bit better as a creator with the ball in his hands. I’m not really expecting much, though, to be honest. (I make it a general practice not to expect much, that way if something good happens, it feels more like a win than something which was supposed to happen). 

Q: What’s one matchup you’ll be watching when the Magic and Bulls meet this season? 

A: I’ll be really interested to see how the Bulls attempt to handle Aaron Gordon’s athleticism. Mike Dunleavy won’t be able to do much with him, so it’s likely you’ll see Jimmy Butler get cross-matched onto him. Gordon’s not especially skilled, but he seems like the type of guy you’re just going to have to get a strong body on or he’ll hurt you with his strength, speed, and activity.

Q: What are fair expectations for the Bulls this season? How far can they make it in the Eastern Conference playoffs? 

A: The Bulls are seeing quite a bit of hype and I’m not totally sure it’s warranted. They’re going to be heavily dependent on Rose being (1) good and (2) healthy, neither of which is a sure thing. I’ve seen them as the consensus 2nd best team in the East, though, again, given the questions they have, I’m not sure thats’ fair. I’m more inclined to view them as in the mass of teams in the second tier with Washington and Toronto more so than as true matches for the Cavs. All that said, if Rose remains healthy and can round into his old self come playoff time, I could easily see them taking the Eastern crown. Those are clearly big ifs, which is why it’s more likely that they make it to the second round or ECF and bow out there.