[Thanks (I think) to noted Melo instigator 'sin' for today's game preview (sign up!). Is it just a Bulls thing, or is it news elsewhere when someone the team didn't trade for (and likely were never close to doing so) shows up? -ed.]
MELO at BULLS. Melo LOLZ! MELO BETTER THAN DENG LOLZ!
Just kidding, I wouldn't really make a preview like that, our fearless leader hates me enough. Anyways onto the game preview:
We're coming off some pretty tough losses last week to a team using cheat codes apparently and another team that's basically everything we hope to be by the year's end. But, hey: the past is the past, and both games taught our young team and coach (mostly our coach) some good lessons for the future.
It's a new week though, so let's forget about last week and look forward to the road ahead. Monday brings us yet another fun team, the Denver Nuggets. Ordinarily this would be just another tough game against another one of those tough-but-not-godlike-tough-like-the-Lakers teams. The Nuggets are off to a strong start this season despite an extremely decimated front court. Their front court rotation has been thinned down to Melvin Ely and Shelden Williams due to injuries to regular starters Kenyon Martin and Nene (update: Nene's now expected to play -ed.). Chris Anderson is also out with an injury, leaving Harrington the only real threat off the bench as far as the front line goes.
It's on everyone's mind and not just mine for once: tonight everyone's going to be focused on Carmelo Anthony. According to those lovely reports from the "experts" over at ESPN, we've come to discover Melo has an interest in joining the Bulls. Of course the likeliness of this actually being pulled off is fairly unlikely (though that won't stop me from complaining about how badly we need him). Who knows how Denver will handle the situation, but as of now it seems very likely that Melo will be dealt sometime before the deadline, and the key element is that $65 million extension on the table, which in essence is a no-trade clause for Melo because no team is dumb enough to gut their roster unless Melo agrees to signing with them long term. So that being said, it still looks like we have a slim slim chance, should Denver somehow cave at the deadline. At that point it would be a simple decision of whether they would rather have Deng's fat contract and a nice pick or the Bricks' Knicks' crap and expirings. Anyways, it'll be fun to watch out for how the crowd receives Melo tonight. Based on how the crowd treated Kobe Bryant a few years back, I'm assuming he'll get some love.
Back to the game at hand. Tonight seems like a winnable game on paper, but so did the Knicks one. As I mentioned earlier, the Nuggets are plagued with injuries and basically have been riding Melo to start the season. Tonight, depending on whether we get Deng or Dung, Melo could be dropping anywhere from 15 to (I'm guessing) about 40 points on us. Their backcourt, on the other hand, is another story: led by veteran Chauncey Billups. Our backcourt of Rose and Bogans (I really hope Brewer starts soon) should be able to contain Billups and Afflalo, though I am interested in watching how Rose does against Billups, since Rose seemingly has improved defensively and we all know when Billups is playing smart he can get physical and draw some easy fouls. I'm hoping the Team-USA-veteran-leader-so-I-can-chuck-the-ball-up-whenever-I-want Billups shows up. What concerns me about tonight is how we will fare when the two sides both have bench players in the game. When we pull out that amazing C.J. Watson backcourt with Brewer or Korver, I'm fairly sure we're going to be giving up a few points to Ty Lawson and J.R. Smith. Hopefully, the starters can come out and establish a good lead before the bench players come in and chip away at it, as opposed to adding to it. Noah and Taj are both coming off strong games and should be able to dominate the front line of the Nuggets giving us an advantage inside, which should be a big determining factor tonight.
Anyways to wrap up, the things to watch out for are:
1) How Thibodeau adjusts after two tough losses. Are the rotations actually going to be rotations and not a roll call of the entire team? Will Scalabrine finally not play a bajillion minutes? And how will Thibs handle late game situations if it should come down to that?
2) Which Deng shows up. Will we get the Deng that is non-existant or amazing? How will he fare against Melo? Succumb to pressure? Show everyone why we shouldn't consider trading him for Melo?
3) MELOOOOOOOO!! WILL HE JUST STAY AFTER THE GAME AND JOIN US? WILL DENG BE SHIPPED TO DENVER? OMG THE EXCITEMENT IS TOO MUCH!!!
Seems like a winnable game, so hopefully we win this before the dreaded circus trip comes around.
Nuggets vs Bulls coverage game tips off at 7 (CSN).