Game Preview #36: Bulls vs. Detroit Pistons

[Thanks to Da Bulls' Eye for today's game preview (sign up!) -ed.]

The Bulls face off against the Pistons tonight for the third time this season.  The Bulls are 2-0 so far this season against the not-so-bad-boys.  Basically, this is another must-win for the Bulls.  If they don't win it, I suppose it's not the end of the world, but when you face a team in the midst of a 12 game losing streak, you have to go in for the kill.  This is especially important for the Bulls since they have only 5 of 16 games remaining before the all-star break at home.  And we all know that the Bulls are pretty much atrocious on the road.

So how will the Bulls fare tonight against the worst Pistons team in about a decade?  I would imagine pretty well.  The Pistons are severely banged up.  Will Bynum, Rodney Stuckey, and Tayshaun Prince are all day-to-day.  So even if any of these players, who don't even scare that much when they're healthy,  do play, they will surely be limited in minutes while exhibiting sub-par performances.

And of course, always an interesting side-story is Ben Gordon making an appearance at the United Center...

  Unfortunately BG7 injured his thigh in the fourth quarter of the Pistons last loss to Philadelphia, all after scoring the NBA's 10 millionth point ever, which gave Ben some nice press I suppose.  Ben is questionable in tonight's game, but I'm hoping he gets to play.  Last time the Pistons were in town, Ben received more jeers than cheers, which exhibited the ignorance of the Bulls fans in attendance that night.  Hopefully tonight, Bulls fans will show Ben some love.  Hey, if Noc gets a standing-O when he comes to town, Ben surely deserves to at least not get booed after the many thrills he provided throughout the years.  Beyond that, Ben Gordon is the Pistons most prolific scorer and at this point, their best player.  Rip Hamilton is washed up, Tayshaun doesn't look like the player he used to be, and don't get me started on Ben Wallace.

Due to various injuries, the Bulls should have no problem outplaying the Pistons guards tonight.  If Stuckey, Bynum, and Gordon all do not play, it should be a relative cake-walk for Derrick Rose and company.  Even Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons should get theirs tonight.  Rip Hamilton also usually has a tough time against the Bulls.  Hinrich seemed to get under his skin when the Bulls came to the Palace on New Year's Eve, as the two were barking back and forth at each other for a good 3 minutes.  There always seems to be bad blood between these two teams, but I think that makes it more fun to watch.

The Pistons will definitely have a tough time against the Bulls front-court tonight.  The duo of Jonas Jerebko and Ben Wallace is not exactly an imposing one from my point of view.  I expect another double-double from Joakim, and hopefully a bounce-back game from Tyrus, so as long as he stops trying to play point guard and run fast breaks.  The key for Tyrus is to let the game come to him, and play within himself.  If Vinny can't control him and he continues to shoot jump-shots with 20 seconds left on the shot-clock, expect his minutes to be limited.  I also expect Taj to have a solid game, both offensively and on the glass.  A double-double from both Joakim and Taj Gibson against this dreadful Pistons team is not too much to ask for.

Hopefully, Derrick Rose is aggressive tonight out the gate, as 8 point games from our star point guard are no longer acceptable in my opinion, regardless of who we're playing.  But if I know Derrick, he'll be deferring to his teammates early, especially in a game where the Bulls should win in every major statistical category.  And who knows, maybe we'll see some more flashes of James Johnson's raw talent, considering he should be able to log significant minutes tonight. As long as the Bulls come out confident looking for the kill as opposed to just looking at the Pistons' record and taking the team for granted, they should be victorious tonight at the UC for their second win in a row and the Pistons 13th loss in a row (WOW).  For Vinny's sake, let's hope I'm right, because a loss to these Pistons would be a real bad look for him and may even do him in (although with the Bulls front office that is obviously unlikely).

Prediction:  Bulls win 102-93.  Get ready to go get some Big Macs.

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