[Thanks to Yibs for today's game preview (sign up!). This will be the night Noah gets 50 rebounds. Game is at 8 on CSNChicago. -ed.]
Hi everyone, yibs here. Long time blogger, first time game previewer...
Hooray, we’re more than half way done with the circus trip, and what a circus it has been. Very good wins against the Rockets and the Mavericks, the Bulls did what they needed to do; which was to put themselves into situations to get wins. That goes for the losses too, they’ve played real good ball and have had a chance to come out on top. Last night was a tough one, because they played hard but the depth of the Lakers was too much. Props to Derrick, Noah, and Taj for really putting on a show in front of the LA crowd. But there is no time to waste because….
It’s time once again for your favorite part of the season: Which Phoenix Suns player will Derrick make into a poster tonight?
The Suns have been playing the same old run and gun offense, but with the departure of Amare, Nash remains the lone member of that old team. I think Alvin Gentry tries a lot to get those guys playing some kind of defense, but other than Grant Hill and maybe Jared Dudley, that roster is full of guys who only want to shoot the ball. The Suns are 3rd in the league in FG%, and 8th in 3PT%, and nowhere near the league average in any of defense categories.
The key to beating these guys is to play the same kind of tough defense we had against the Mavs. Its okay to let one guy do all the scoring but it is CRITICAL not to let all of them catch on fire. Unlike the Knicks, this is a team that has potential to do that more than once in a season. In fact they beat the Lakers having that kind of a game setting a franchise record of 22 3-pointers made! That momentum helped them win the next game against Carmelo. But now they are in a slump, and have had blowout losses to the Heat, Magic, Bobcats (for all the guys that still follow Tyrus, he had 22 points and 6 boards in 29 minutes). They did beat the Rockets on Monday, but they had to score 123 points to do so. All their wins have happened when they score at least 100, and all the Bulls wins have come from keeping the opponent under 100; something’s gotta give tonight.
If you ask me the Bulls should win this game and they should (though the back to back situation won’t help) blow out the Suns like the teams mentioned above. We match up better in almost all positions and our bench should outperform their bench. Our main guys played tough minutes last night which will not help at all against the type of offense the Suns have, but I believe that Thib’s defensive discipline will really show in this one. So let’s get to the match ups.
Rose vs. Nash
Derrick has played some of his best games against the Suns. With highlight dunks over Barbosa, Dragic, and Amare. Last year I considered the game against the Suns to be one of my favorite Rose games. This was when he showed that he can make the midrange jumpers consistently. He was simply amazing that night, even hitting a three to end the 3rd quarter. Nash has no chance to keep up with him, and I wonder if they might eventually go with Jason Richardson trying to stop Derrick. Good Luck with that.
Bogans vs. Richardson
When I say Bogans I really mean a mix of Korver and Brewer. Bogans should be able to guard JR pretty well and Richardson’s one of those guys who need to get going early to really contribute throughout the game. But you definitely don’t want him going early, especially since he’s capable of attacking the rim, which could lead to foul trouble for Taj and Noah.
Deng vs. Hill
The battle of the Blue Devils. I always think that Lu should go off against the Suns, because they don’t have anyone that can match up with him in speed and endurance. But it never happens. Hill can still defend and can provide some offense when needed. He had 23 against the Bobcats a few nights ago. I’m really not sure which way this match up will go, because as always it will depend on which Deng shows up. Though after last night, I have absolutely no confidence that Deng will do anything to contribute to this game,
Gibson vs. Turkoglu
I think it will be an advantage to exploit this matchup. Like we did in the Mavs game, we should start out the game by establishing Taj in the post. Go to him down low in the first few possessions and let him go to work like he did against Dirk. This is important because Hedo will be all over the court on the other end and Taj will need to defend him inside and outside the 3-point arc. If Taj can stay disciplined enough to not fall for the pump fakes and avoid the cheap fouls, this matchup should be a big key to our victory.
Noah vs. Frye
Frye is the wildcard. In all technical sense Jo should dominate him in the post and out rebound him. But since Frye plays a lot like Hedo, Jo will need to be alert of where he is on the floor at all times. The Suns will have him out on the arc many times, which will take Noah away from the basket. This will lead to long threes attempted and chances of offensive rebounds for the Suns. It is important that our guards crash the boards since Taj and Jo will spend a lot of time away from the rim.
Suns Substitutes vs. Bulls Backups
Bulls should have the upper hand here. With Lopez being injured, their only other "big" is our old buddy Hakim Warrick. Warrick has been playing better with Steve Nash and the pick and roll game but Noah should destroy him. They do have the advantage at backup PG with Dragic. Say what you want about the guy, he plays good team ball. He can penetrate and dish like Nash and can also hit the outside jumpers. Limiting good minutes from him will be key, because it allows less time for Nash to rest. I think Kyle should benefit from the lack of defense from the Suns. And Ronnie (should get more of the SG minutes) will have a solid game against JR and get some points cutting at the baseline and finish over Frye or Hedo.
I predict that the Bulls win this one, but it will be tough since it is a back to back. Taj, Noah, and Rose played all out last night and Taj is certainly in pain. I hope can give at least half the effort he had last night. If the Bulls play the tough D they have been playing and rotate to the open man, we should have this game. Then I think they can head back home for the Holidays before heading out to another back to back on Friday and Saturday.
Don't forget to check out the other dudes: Bright Side of the Sun
I’d like to end with a poem....
Rose is red hot.
Bulls are gonna win tonight.
Hey look it’s THE Detlef Schrempf!