[Thanks to Ayeljay for today's game preview -ed.]
Aww....there's nothing like a fierce early season Bulls - Pacers game to get the blood going. Jordan, Pippen, Grant...Person, Miller, Smits, Schrempf....
Huh? What?....You mean it's Deng, Gordon and Nocioni vs Granger, Dunleavy(possibly) and Ford....
And there lies the problem with these two rosters....a serious lack of stars on these two teams. Frankly, I had to go to NBA.com to grab a glimpse of who exactly the Pacers have on their roster.( I bet you can't name 8 Pacers.) Let's just say the Davis brothers aren't walking thru that door.
No matter where these two teams finish in the rankings this year, whether the Pacers finish as the seventh or eight seed while the bulls don't make the playoffs or vice-versa...there's a greater cause for hope on the west side of Chicago. Why?... because there's a star forming...and he goes by the name of Derrick Poohdini Rose.
Right now these rosters(minus Rose) are chalk full of third and fourth options on championship caliber teams. While I would rather have Danny Granger than Luol Deng, he's still no better than a third option on a team like the Lakers or Celtics. Acquiring a star - whether by the luck of the draw(cough*Rose*cough) or by a free agent signing or trade- makes the most incompetent GM look good, the most horrendous coach look like john Wooden, and the most mediocre players look like world beaters(cough*Tyson Chandler*cough).
So when viewing these teams on Saturday night - think about the following things:
1. How fortunate the Bulls were to have that lucky lottery ball fall the way it did.
2. The fact that if the Pacers aren't careful, they will be stuck in a cycle of mediocrity. Unless they create enough cap room to lure a top-flight free agent(I don't know to many athletes that are making plans to play in central Indiana), or get lucky in the draft(I don't see them getting anything higher that a low lottery pick), it's going to be very difficult to find that top five to seven guy you need to win a championship.
3. Which of these Bulls players will be around 2-3 years from now after the finish of the Derrick Rose Re-construction Process.(Which is hopefully shorter than the amount of time they plan on spending re-constructing I-88)
4. Which Pacers would look great in the jerseys of other teams looking for possibly that final complimentary piece to get them over the hump.
5. Will the Bulls regret not signing Gordon last off-season?
6. When Chuck "The Rifleman" Person kicked a basketball or two into the upper reaches of Chicago Stadium in a game during the 90's. Those were the days!
All in all, it should be a fun game watching two teams doing battle...trying to join the Cavs, Celtics, and Pistons for Eastern Conference supremacy.
Game time: 7:30 CST
Channel: WGN [ed. note: It's actually nationally televised on WGN America]
Location: United Center
Bulls: 4-5 Pacers: 4-4
Leading Scorer: Gordon 21.6 PPG
Leading Rebounder: Gooden 8.4 RPG
Leading Assist: PointGod 5.3 APG
Leading Scorer: Granger 25.3 PPG (Goodness!)
Leading Rebounder: Troy Murphy 9.3RPG
Leading Assist: T.J. Ford 6.4 APG (until his next injury which is scheduled for Dec.1)
Pacers playing the second of a back to back. [ed. note: They blew a 25 point lead at home Friday night]