[Thanks to torch for today's game preview. Early start, 6pm, on The U -ed.]
Tonight's game pits two teams with new-look rosters coming off of big wins. The Bulls (17-9, 6-6 away) are entering Game 3 of the sans-Noah era and might miss Taj Gibson as well, who is day-to-day due to the concussion he suffered against the Clippers. Likewise, the Wizards (7-19, 7-6 home) are entering their 3rd game PGA (Post Gilbert Arenas). Washington will also be incorporating forward Rashard Lewis, who was acquired during the recent Orlando fire sale, for the first time since the trade.
At first glance, this should be an easy win. We beat them earlier this year by 11, when they had both Arenas and John Wall playing. Wall is likely out tonight, due to a bone bruise beneath his kneecap that has kept him sidelined for some time now. The upside (for Washington) is that absent Arenas and Wall, Chicago's prodigal son Kirk Hinrich has played extremely well, not having to defer ball handling duties to the franchise's past or future star. [bonus link on that -ed.] Captain Kirk put up 18-6-11 Monday night in their blowout of Charlotte and 13-6-12 in their almost-upset of Miami last Saturday night. The Wizards seem to be enjoying a Ewing Theory boost, but now they have to work Lewis into their rotations. Will they play him as a stretch-4 to open up defenses or will they go big with a front court of Lewis/Blatche/McGee? How will Andray Blatche, Al Thornton, and Josh Howard handle reduced minutes due to Lewis playing? And can Nick Young keep pouring on the points when he's on the court with Lewis, who needs the ball to be effective beyond a corner-3 spot up shooter?
The Bulls are going through a roster transition of sorts themselves. In the two games since Joakim Noah had his surgery, this has seemed like two completely different teams. In Saturday night's loss to the Clippers, the Bulls looked like they took the Noah news as a sign of despair, playing a lot of turnstile defense in VDN's return to the United Center. Last night the Bulls looked like a championship caliber squad, destroying the surging 76ers in Kurt Thomas's dip in the fountain of youth. I would like to think we worked something out and have our feet beneath us going forward, but anything can happen on the road in the second night of a back-to-back.
Game time: 6:00 PM Central
TV Coverage: WCIU (Chicago), Comcast SportsNet (DC), NBATV (National)
Radio Coverage: ESPN Radio 1000 (Chicago), 106.7 The Fan (DC)