[Thanks to Prevenge for today's game preview. -ed.]
Which Team will get over 80?
Today, at 8 EST [probably a bit later, because of the nature of NBA games], the Chicago Bulls, currently first in the Central Division [thanks, Shaq!], face the Charlotte Bobcats in what promises to be the best basketball matchup this side of the Bulls-Bucks game.
That is to say, it's going to be awful.
If you're interested, here's the preview from the Charlotte fan's point of view. [That guy really likes our players. This is probably a bad sign for the Bobcats.]
As everyone here knows already, Tyrus Thomas fractured his forearm. This would be a serious blow to the Bulls if Tyrus had played more than 20 minutes a game. As-is, imagine Tyrus sitting on the bench during all the pivotal moments of the game, and you'll get pretty much the same effect.
Who's starting in his place? Well, obviously Taj Gibson, the best PF that averages 11 and 7 ever - according to Bulls coaches. Luckily for Taj, he's up against Boris Diaw, who is slightly more temperamental than TT and will have games where he explodes for 26 points and a bunch of assists, and games where he has 0-for's. Hopefully Diaw has one of those games where he forgets what day it is, generally sleeps out at the three point line, and does nothing. The Rise of Taj indeed.
Gerald Wallace vs. Luol Deng: Wallace normally would win this one running away [not only is he good, but Deng would be on the bench!], but Deng's had a pair of good performances and looks to be fully recovered from the stress fracture that had him playing so poorly in the preseason and last year before he shut it down. Hopefully this continues. He didn't exactly 'shut down' LeBron, but he stopped him on the last possession, and LeBron's stats were only 25 points [on 17 shots], 7 assists, and 6 rebounds.
... LeBron is good at basketball.
Where was I? Oh yeah. Gerald Wallace actually had a 20/20 game, much like Deng, earlier this season. He's more athletic than Deng, but ... they're both good. Seems like a draw to me.
Derrick Rose vs. Raymond Felton: We should [hopefully] see Rose continue to assert himself more after the Cleveland game. Felton's a decent defender, but he's not too large, and his sub Augustine is even shorter. Hopefully Rose's new dedication to defense will come through, too, those there may not be a need for it - Felton's a notoriously bad outside shooter.
John Salmons vs. Whoever the Bobcats are starting: As long as Salmons doesn't continue to shoot 3-for-15 [or whatever], we should have this matchup in the bag, at least. Who are the Bobcats starting? This guy ... I don't have any idea who he is. S. Graham, says ESPN. Here's a link to his ESPN stats page. He went 6-for-9 against the Knicks, but then went 2-for-11 against Boston. Not so good.
Joakim Noah vs. Tyson Chandler: It's like Joakim Noah ... vs. himself! Only if he went through a foot injury, and then didn't come back playing as well as before. Hopefully Noah wins this, but it could go either way ... though for my part, I'm going to be optimistic. Chandler hasn't played as well as he did pre-injury, and he seems on the way down, while Noah added an extremely awkward-looking but effective hook shot to his repertoire [and is 4-for-5 on jumpers! How did that happen?].
Well. Should we win this? Will we win this?
Well, let's see. Looking at the ESPN stats page, I noticed one thing about both of these teams: We're both 3-2, and yet we both have a negative points for to points against differential! I was going to call this differential the 'suck differential', but basketbawful already took that. So ... let's just say fail differential.
Charlotte has a fail differential of 2.2, while we have a fail differential of a staggering 5.2. Why? Well, look at that Bucks-Bulls game earlier. We've won two of our three games by two points or less. [Thanks, LeBron, for throwing your team's last chance to win into the stands, then whining for a foul call. Chicago salutes you ... almost as much as we salute Shaq.]
Oh, one other thing: Charlotte's on the second half of a back-to-back. I've heard those are bad for teams.
But ... before making a prediction, let me pull out the Magic 8-Ball of NBA Predictive Genius:
Will we win this basketball game?
Oh! Magic 8-Ball, I think I know what you're talking about: Look at the Boston Celtics fail differential for both teams!
Therefore, we're going to win. By 5. The Bobcats, despite their inability to score, also don't like letting other people score [they're real buzzkills ...], so ... I'll say 90 to 85. So the answer to the first question I asked in the title is [predictively] both teams, through some miracle of providence I can't even begin to try and appreciate.
Let's hope Taj does well in Tyrus's absence, even though Tyrus should have been playing more before he fell victim to a series of cataclysmic events [obviously brought to fruition by an evil spy agency]. Hey, we may even see some James Johnson this game! [I won't, since I'm working through the day ... but it would be cool to see him play more than 2 minutes a game, even through a box score.]
Oh, yeah, and Michael Jordan owns the Bobcats. ... Egghhhh. Let's forget I even mentioned that, OK?
*is now pretending MJ's post-basketball "career" didn't exist.*