[Note by your friendly BullsBlogger, 03/26/09 3:07 PM CDT: Thanks to Bullieving in Miami (of course) for today's game preview. Derrick Rose is expected to play but not start. Likely just for injury reasons...but it's Vinny, so who knows. I'm Lovin it Live tonight! ]
Here we are, the home stretch, the final ten games of the season. The Bulls will be reaping the benefits of having that circus trip at the beginning of the season as there are only 3 road dates left (TOR, IND, DET) and they are all winnable games. In fact, the only true tests left on the schedule, in my opinion, are tonight versus the Heat and a home game versus Philadelphia. This is actually a bit unsettling. I’m sure we all just want wins to solidify a playoff berth, and I’m pretty sure they can lock up the 7thspot and assure a match-up against Orlando or Boston, but the "light" schedule is a concern to me. First off, I just hate the possibility of this team blowing it with the easy schedule and actually losing some of these games and playing their way out of the playoffs. Secondly, assuming they do finish with many wins, it won’t be against playoff-caliber teams, so it could easily give the players a false sense of security, thinking they’re better than they are because of a win streak, and then receive a rude awakening in Round 1. Either way, this team probably gets ousted in the opening round, because I believe Boston’s D is overwhelming and Orlando has the perimeter game to exploit the Bulls lack of perimeter D and they have the best center in the league in Dwight Howard, who is just an unstoppable force. I don’t even want to imagine this kid in another 3 or 4 years. (sidenote: went to a Bulls-Magic game last year, and Dwight Howard is totally worth the price of admission.) I’m hoping the Bulls get the 8th spot and perpetuate the curse that the Bulls have over the Cavs.
On to tonight’s game. Derrick Rose is listed as a game-time decision as the training staff has seen improvement in the injured right wrist. I truly hope he can give it a run as I’d like this game to be a playoff warm-up against a playoff team with a complete and healthy roster (minus Deng, obviously). It would also be nice to see Rose finally get the best of Chalmers as it seems Super Mario (as they call him down here in Miami) has hit the proverbial rookie wall. He is 17-45 FG in his last 6 games, only breaking double digits twice (and one of those was just a modest 10 points). I believe the Bulls should just clog the lane tonight, not allow Wade any easy scores in the paint, and try to force guys like Chalmers, Haslem, and Moon to win the game. It should be an entertaining game as the last two games between these teams have been very close, both games being won at the buzzer. So, excluding the possibility of a Matrix dunk to win the game (since, obviously, Shawn Marion is no longer with the team) and hoping Erik Spoelstra doesn’t draw up another "Wade steal the ball and drill a runner from mid-court" play, I’m hoping the Bulls can avoid the season sweep at the hands of the Heat (I’ll never hear the end of it). It can happen. The Heat is just as bad as the Bulls on the road, and Miami lost a heartbreaker last night in Indy, where they have now lost 17 in a row. That feeling of demoralization will carry over. It’s a fact.
Enjoy the game, Chi-Town! Send those Heat back to South Beach. (I make that sound like it’s a bad thing.)
GAMETIME: 7pm CST