Ed: Thanks to the excellent Ozzie Montana for today's preview! ~S2
Ah, Portland. The anointed "Team on the rise with young, humble talent that makes you warm inside" for the past several years have gone relatively unnoticed since every blogger and sportswriter in existence has decided that Kevin Durant is in fact a holy union of Jesus and Krishna. But as one of the remaining undefeated teams they present another formidable challenge for our offensively challenged Bulls. Will Chicago flash that gumption we saw against Detroit or will we be treated to another November massacre at the hands of Portland?As it's been for several years now, the Blazers rise and fall with Brandon Roy. He's not exactly the most entertaining player out there but is an excellent all around talent. Not quite the level of elite scorer like Wade or Paul but certainly proven that he can carry the load, rebound and even run the point when needed. I don't think the SG dumpster really stands much of a chance to stop him and if he gets going Thibs should turn to Scottie Pippen aka James Johnson. I've always liked his effort defensively and if he can hit a few shots it's an added bonus. The rest of the Blazers cast hasn't changed much. They signed Wesley Matthews to a questionable contract (length, not the dollars) and I honestly haven't watched him play that much. But he looks versatile enough to play alongside Roy so that's what matters. Andre Miller is consistently underrated. He should likely get destroyed by D. Rose but is one of the remaining guards in the league that actually looks to pass first. If the Bulls aren't patient with their rotations he will pick them apart. Nic Batum is quickly becoming a very dangerous player. He is an excellent outside shooter and their best perimeter defender. Think Thabo Sefolosha if he was good at more than one thing. Look for Luol Deng to do absolutely nothing of consequence or score 35 points against him. Their frontcourt is solid yet unspectacular. Without Oden and Vanilla Gorilla they now turn to Marcus Camby to play well for 25 games before rupturing a testicle. LaMarcus Aldridge is boring and Tyrus will always be better. Rudy Fernandez needs to get his sexy self on our side of the court.
As for our intrepid warriors, this is an interesting test. The Bulls showed some of that Thibs-classic pressure D against Detroit but the Pistons are a worthless team so getting them to fold isn't a huge accomplishment. Can the Bulls be patient against one of the better offenses? If Taj can keep Aldridge from going off (which he hasn't done before) and Jo can get Camby in foul trouble this turns into a very winnable game. The Blazers hate to run so Rose needs to continue to assert himself for the entire game. James Johnson has proven he deserves a spot in the rotation with Brewer banged up. Give Rose a running partner, even if he'll foul out guarding Roy.
Prediction: Chicago plays better offensively but won't stop Portland's backcourt. Rose takes another 30 shots and there will be 666 comments about it. Noah will play so well he will make the females in attendance ovulate.
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