So the Bulls go 3-1 last week after getting embarrassed by the Celtics. That must mean everything is rounding into form, and things are going to be smooth sailing right? Oh wait, Tyrus Thomas is out for 4-6 weeks, Derrick Rose still looks hobbled (maybe mentally and physically), and the Bulls are now starting their 26th pick at PF. The offense continues to look disjointed, but after 6 games against some methodical, plodding teams, they now get a chance to get out and run a little at home against the Nuggets.
Denver started the season on fire before having very forgettable back-to-back losses to Miami and Atlanta. Injuries forced George Karl to shuffle his lineup against the Hawks, starting Joey Graham and Renaldo Balkman in place of Kenyon Martin and Anthony Carter. Not sure if K-Mart is still hurt, but his absence would be huge considering Gibson had more than his share of trouble with Boris Diaw. Carmelo Anthony continues to show why he's an elite talent. Averaging 31 points and 6 rebounds with a PER of 29.6, Luol Deng is going to have his hands full yet again guarding one of the game's best. Everyone already knows about Chauncey Billups, but Ty Lawson could be the steal of the draft. He's posting a 21.4 PER, averaging 18 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals per 36 minutes. Again, another potential matchup nightmare for Derrick and his ankle. In the frontcourt, Nene continues to beast in the paint (18 PER, 60 eFG%), and Birdman Anderson continues to be a very ugly energy player. He's always reminded me of Tyrus Thomas with less offensive skill and more tattoos.
For our Bulls, the key to this game is all about the offense. The Nuggets have been pretty poor on defense thus far (22nd in D. Eff), but they're 6th in pace and have the 2nd best offense in the league. Taj had a terrible rebounding game on Saturday, it's huge for him to help Noah and Brad out on the boards and key some fast breaks. Deng's been playing fantastic defense, but if Melo comes out on fire it could mean foul trouble. A win isn't as important as just getting Rose back on track, because the season ultimately means little without a healthy and confident Derrick Rose.