[Thanks dantheman3k for today's game preview. Early start at 6, not only on CSNChicago but ESPN. A Funk-free night (if you're so inclined. I am). -ed.]
The battle for #1 seed in the East is on. The Boston Celtics record is 44-15, and the Miami Heat's record is (are?) 43-18. The Chicago Bulls are 3 games back of #1 at 41-18, but 1 game (2 "half games"... stupid standings) back of the Heat.
Does this game have playoff implications? Maybe. The real reason I mention all this is that the #2 and #3 seeds will likely have to face off against each other in the second round, with NBA refs largely deciding who wins, so obviously we'd want to get the #1 seed.
But the #1 seed likely has to go up against current #4 Orlando Magic...
...who in the past 2 years, we've gotten a whopping one win against. It was the last time we played them (6 points from Keith Bogans in the first quarter!) so we shouldn't feel too bad. But if there is a team I'm still afraid of in the NBA, its the Orlando Magic.
more after the jump.
After the Hawks game, I'm very afraid.
I'll outright say I predict a slow, close loss in this one. But I'm not going to disappear if we start a losing streak, for I'm not supasm... I mean a fairweather fan.
I'll do the typical thing and go matchup by matchup:
Derrick Rose vs. Jameer Nelson
Supposedly, Jameer Nelson has a history of doing real well against Derrick Rose. Last game, he didn't do so well. Jameer also got 23 points in a half of basketball against the Knicks. Yet... I don't think this matchup scares anyone: we've discussed at length how we got beaten by the inside-out 3 point shooting Magic - and not because of Jameer Nelson's drive-kick game. Derrick Rose owns Jameer Nelson as a player, human being, and skittle eater.
Keith Bogans vs. any player outside of Lazar Hayward, Damion James, Acie Law (!) and Quincy Pondexter on this list....I mean vs. Jason Richardson
I'm not a big fan of Jason Richardson, but even the biggest Jason Richardson hater gives the advantage to the Magic on this one.
Luol Deng vs. Hedo Turkoglu
I was going to get into advanced statistics and PER and crack a few John Hollinger jokes,
but I think we'd all be happier if I just referenced how Deng made Turkoglu his
bitch last time and said "it should happen again."
Carlos Boozer vs. Brandon Bass
I'm a huge Brandon Bass fan both offensively and defensively (holds his opponent to a PER of 14.2, while Boozer um. essentially encourages PFs to score and allows a PER of 20.0). Boozer is obviously the better offensive threat, and I think he's largely growing as a defender - albeit, marginally. The advantage goes to us but it's no blowout. You could make an argument either way, especially in a game like this that I expect to be slow, half court basketball with Dwight getting a lot of points and getting a lot of foul calls and our PFs being used more for help defense than rolling on RnRs.
Joakim Noah vs. Dwight Howard
It pains me to say Dwight Howard is going to own Joakim Noah. It hurts for me to think that one of my favorite basketball players is going to be owned by a giant man who belongs in a McDonald's commercial. I sometimes cry at night thinking how Noah is arguably the best "fast" center in the game, and only suffers against the heavier, stronger players... and that Dwight is a fast center who is heavier and stronger.
I hope to see a lot of Asik: not because I think Dwight is going to rape Noah or anything, but because Asik did wonderfully last time. It seems based on matchups, this might be the game Thibs lets be the Return of Big Sexy (didn't he say something about the best post defender being Kurt?), but I sure hope not. Or, maybe I hope so... but I hope Asik gets his minutes. Overall, the Magic have probably the deepest bench of any team in the league; but the Bulls hold their own and have depth in size which will be much needed against this Magic team.
- Will the Magic fall behind early and then win by 3 points? Will the Bulls lose and look like a Bosh after?
- Will the Magic dismantle us early? Will we come out early like we did against the Hawks but not take the pedal off the gas this time?
- Will Deng get some rest and will we get a Rasual Butler sighting?
- Will the team that shoots lights out 3 pointers like last game's 2nd half Magic beat us like they have before?
- Will Dwight score 40 in the paint but to no avail?
If you count the matchups, it looks like I'd think the Bulls will win. But my prediction? Magic 95 Bulls 91.
Go talk some trash at Orlando Pinstriped Post.
And please Bulls, prove me wrong. If you play well enough, this could be Round 2. :(
And finally, if DRose comes out 'mad' in this game... do you think the Heatles will come out mad vs the Spurs after? Will either stay mad for Sunday? Win or lose, DRose please be more aggressive and stop shooting so many 3 point jumpers unless the clock is low.