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Wizards vs. Bulls preview: Wiz look to go over .500 for first time this season in Chicago

NBA: Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

When: Tuesday, January 10 at 7:00 pm ET
Where: Verizon Center in Washington, DC
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 1500 AM and Wizards Radio App

Injury Report

Wizards: Ian Mahinmi (Out, Knee), Danuel House (Out, Wrist)
Bulls: Jimmy Butler (Out, Illness), Dwyane Wade (Out, Rest), Nikola Mirotic (Out, Rest)

What to Watch for

Can the Wizards contain Jimmy Butler? (UPDATE: Yes, on a technicality)

Jimmy Butler is one of the hottest players in the NBA right now. He is averaging more than 30 points per game since Christmas, and has led the Bulls to recent wins over the Cavaliers and Raptors, the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. His play in the closing minutes of games has been especially fantastic:

Stopping Butler completely seems pretty much impossible at this point, but the Wizards need to try and limit his penetration opportunities and force him to take as many jumpers as possible. Butler already has a 37-point outing against Washington this season, and he did it in large part because of his constant trips to the free throw line. He was 14-for-14 from the stripe in their November meeting.

UPDATE: Jimmy Butler is out for Tuesday’s game, so just relax knowing you don’t have to worry about him in this one.

The battle on the boards

The Bulls are one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA. They are second to only the Nuggets in total rebound percentage, and lead the league in offensive rebound percentage. Chicago only has one player averaging more than seven boards per game (Robin Lopez is at 7.2), but they have eight players averaging at least four per contest.

In both meetings this season between the two teams the Bulls have won a close battle in total rebounding, but really pounded the Wizards on the offensive glass. With how well Chicago has been playing of late, however, Washington really needs to limit their second chance opportunities to prevent a surging team from building any sort of momentum.

Is Sheldon McClellan the new backup shooting guard?

McClellan has seemed to really enjoy playing the Bulls this season. The rookie is only averaging 4.4 points per contest, but he has put up 22 total points in two games against Chicago this season (including one of his three starts).

Not only is McClellan going up against a team he has already had success against, but he is also coming off one of his best performances of the season after putting up 8 points on 3-of-5 shooting against the Bucks. It appears that McClellan has supplanted Marcus Thornton in the rotation, and having a strong showing against another team fighting to stay on the right side of the playoff bubble could go a long way towards cementing his status as a mainstay in the Wizards’ rotation.

Most Likely Wizard Killer: Nikola Mirotic

Mirotic already has a 17-point, 11-rebound game against Washington this season, and he is the exact sort of player the Wizards have struggled with all year. He is a four-man who can stretch the floor, and if the Wizards bench plays like, well, the Wizards bench and doesn’t get out on shooters, he could have another huge night.

UPDATE: Mirotic is out too.