[Thanks to Cosmis for today's game preview (sign up!). This may be one of the more winnable games on the trip, with the Bulls rested and the Rockets without Yao or Aaron Brooks. The good news continues in the form of Kyle Korver, who missed yesterday's practice but participated in shootaround today. Game is at 7:30 on CSN Chicago. -ed.]
Well here we go. The dreaded Circus Trip rears it's ugly, clown shaped head in Houston. I think 3 wins would be an almost miraculous outcome this time. Pessimism aside, this is a very winnable game.
The Most Important Bulls in the World: Taj Gibson. Matched up against one of the best players in the league so far this season in Luis Scola, Taj needs to, at the very least, hold his own. He also needs to foul as little as possible (not easy for him), lest we're all treated to a little more Scalabrine than we are prepared for.
Keys to Victory: Scoring a lot of points and stopping the Rockets from scoring just as much or more! No, seriously, with the absence of Yao Ming, Scola becomes their only real inside threat (just what Bradass WANTS us to think), so Noah should be able to dominate his mentor in all things that aren't related to camouflage.
A real point of interest to me is how well Shane Battier will be able to guard Deng, who's been on a bit of a hot streak lately. He might still be the same average player, but the way in which he's getting his shots is vastly different. Taking better threes, slashing and actually PASSING inside, and generally getting to the line at a better rate. Deng has become a legitimate weapon rather than a guy who just stands around and scores once in a while. I credit Thibs' new motion offense.
Also, while the absence of Aaron Brooks will do wonders for our 3 point defense, Kyle Lowry is actually (suggested by his stats and also by people with eyes) a better passer and defender than Brooks. Kevin Martin going for less than 30 would significantly improve our chances at victory.
I'm not saying that the Circus Trip will suck in 2010. I'm just saying that past history dictates that it probably will. Prove me wrong, Bulls.
The Enemy: The Dream Shake
C- Joakim Noah #13
PF- Taj Gibson #22
SF- Luol Deng #9
SG- Keith Bogans #6
PG- Derrick Rose #1
C- Brad Miller #52
PF- Luis Scola #4
SF- Shane Battier #31
SG- Kevin Martin #12
PG- Kyle Lowry #7