Winless in its first two games of a five-game road swing, Portland heads to Chicago on Thursday to play the Bulls. The Bulls don't have much traction at this point in their season, either. Though Tom Thibodeau's squad is in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, it has lost five of its last seven games.
Chicago is coming off a heartbreaking 119-118 overtime home loss to the Denver Nuggets, and the never-ending saga of point guard Derrick Rose's return, or lack thereof, has left a cloud of black smoke hovering over the Bulls. Injuries to Kirk Hinrich and Taj GIbson have marked them as game-time decisions, although both participated fully in a morning shootaround, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
That lack of depth could take away one advantage most teams have against the Trail Blazers -- a deeper bench.
Portland began its road trip on Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers but fell, 101-100. As it often has gone this season, the Trail Blazers didn't have the firepower after LaMarcus Aldridge's 32 points and Damian Lillard's 27. The next day, they lost, 102-95, despite another 49 combined points from Aldridge and guard Wesley Matthews.
So, can Chicago be too much to overcome?
After all, six Bulls scored in double-figures in the near-victory against a high-powered Nuggets offense on Monday. And over the course of Hinrich's seven-game absence because of a foot injury, point guard Nate Robinson has come on strong and has averaged 17 points over that span.
Inconsistency makes it hard to say.
The Bulls have scored 113 and 119 in their last two, but in the five games prior without Hinrich, they averaged 86.8 points per game.
Some of the offensive issues are hidden behind the defensive abilities of a Thibodeau-coached squad. Though inconsistent of late, Chicago's defense is still ranked sixth in the NBA in terms of points per 100 possessions, according to Basketball-Reference.com. It will clash against a Portland offense predicated more on execution -- that offense is good enough for the 10th-best production of points per 100 possessions in the league.
Chicago would like it to be an out-of-rhythm game for Portland, and the Trail Blazers will look to for some sort of offensive rhythm.
Neither team has found much of that rhythm of late. The winner will be thankful for any bit of consistency, even for a single game.
Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: CSN Chicago / CSN Northwest
Odds: Chicago opened as a five-point favorite.