Who: Chicago Bulls vs Charlotte Bobcats
What: NBA Basketball – Bulls Home Game
When: 8:00 PM ET
Where: Live at United Center
|Chicago||26-17||100 (20)||97.6 (3)||92.4 (24)|
|Charlotte||11-32||99 (28)||108.1 (29)||94.6 (12)|
Chicago: Luol Deng (Game time decision), Derrick Rose (OUT)
Charlotte: Byron Mullens (OUT)
|PG||Kirk Hinrich||Kemba Walker|
|SG||Marco Belinelli||Gerald Henderson|
|SF||Luol Deng||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist|
|PF||Carlos Boozer||Hakim Warrick|
|C||Joakim Noah||Bismack Biyombo|
|6th Man||Nate Robinson||Ramon Sessions|
1- STATS: Charlotte shocked the Bulls in Chicago back on New Years Eve. The Bobcats shot 47.1% while holding the Bulls to just 35.1%. The Cats also out-rebounded Chicago 52-49 for the game in a team effort that saw 4 players snag at least 6 rebounds each. Will the battle on the boards be the key again tonight in this slow paced game the Bulls will force?
Spencer: In the first matchup the Bobcats guards were really able to attack the rim off the dribble. Kemba, Sessions and Gordon combined for 48 points in that game while only make two 3’s, combined. The bulls will again be making Charlotte execute in the half court, but if the Cats are able to get to the rim off the dribble and generate high percentage opportunities then they’ll have a shot. I’ll say the key is points in the paint for Charlotte. Defensively, as always, they must limit the Bulls second chance opportunities.
Brett: I’ll say the key will be total shots, combining the battle on the boards with turnovers. For the Bobcats to compete, they’ll need to offset any advantage Chicago has on the offensive glass by forcing additional turnovers (Chicago is a little loose with the ball, having the league’s 20th worst turnover rate).
Greg: I think tempo will be the key in this one. The Bulls play one of the slowest games in the league, ranking 26th in pace, and that’s a key part of their top-five defense. The Bobcats have been more willing to play smallball recently, so outrunning the Bulls and gambling a bit on steals might be their best bet.
2- CONTENDER or PRETENDER? Luol Deng will be a game time decision tonight after missing the past 5 with a hamstring injury. The Bulls are now also anticipating the return of Derrick Rose at some point after the all-star break. Can this team be a legit contender in the eastern conference, or are they simply a product of a a great defensive minded coach (Tom Thibodeau) who is built to find success in regular season?
Spencer: There is no question that the Bulls can be a contender if they get back a healthy Derrick Rose. The way that Chicago can play basketball completely changes when you put a guy as dynamic as Rose on the floor. The way the Bulls play defense is extremely hard to replicate over a 7-game series, but with a superstar like Rose in the lineup to bail you out every once in awhile, you should certainly be considered a contender.
Brett: With wins against the Knicks, Nets, and Heat already this season, and one of the league’s best players getting ready to return – this team is a contender. While there may be some period of adjustment, as the players and coaches have to adjust to Rose’s return, in rotations and shot distributions, the Bulls will be a tough out in the playoffs and I wouldn’t surprised to see them up against the Heat in the conference finals (depending on the bracket, of course).
Greg: Contender. The Bulls have been treading water with a pu-pu platter of role players starting at point guard, and they still have an elite defense. That likely won’t fall off when Derrick Rose returns. The Heat and the Knicks, their likely playoff opponents, are very dependent on the three-point shot — and the Bulls have been very good at taking that away from teams. Chicago allows a league-low amount of three-point attempts, and they rank fourth in three-point defense. If Rose can return and even marginally improve the offense, they’ll have a great shot at scoring an upset.
3- PICK IT: Anyone seriously thinking that the Bobcats will make it 2-0 in Chicago for the season?
Spencer: Bulls, and this one isn’t going to be close. Chicago has had an issue this season with putting away lesser opponents, but considering they’ve already allowed the Bobcats to beat them on their home floor this season — Thibs will have these guys fired up with enough pride tonight to not allow it to happen again. Chicago looked like a team that was sleep walking defensively on New Years Eve. It’ll be the opposite tonight. 95-80 Bulls.
Brett: I’m not that daring of a man – I’ll take the better team to win. Chicago does have a few of the characteristics of a team Charlotte can beat, in that they’re not a great three point shooting team and they can be careless with the basketball. But, I’ll play the odds – da Bulls.
Greg: Chicago. It’d be nice to get a win as the Bobcats start their five-game road trip, but Chicago’s defense is going to make this a very ugly game for Charlotte.