[Thanks to Kunaal for today's game preview. And as a special note, thanks to everyone who did the game previews this year, I think it's working better every season and I've enjoyed reading different voices for the games. Plus it was free for me.
Per the Bulls (and they'd know!), Brewer is out and Noah is questionable. Game is at 7 on CSNChicago-PLUS -ed.]
First preview so give me a little slack. Ironically, first preview, last game.
Last game of the season folks. The Bulls have exceeded everyone's expectations and achieved a 61-20 record thus far in what has been the best season since the Jordan years. Bulls will try to finish on a high note against the New Jersey Nets, who will be without their star PG Deron Williams. The presumptive MVP Derrick Rose may put a final stamp on his resume while Thibs will look to make history. (Not for standing during an entire season)
The Bulls already have the 1 seed locked up in the East, but they are fighting for the 1 seed overall, and they are currently tied with the Spurs at 61-20. San Antonio interestingly rested their starters against the Lakers last night and will face off against the Phoenix Suns tonight. Popovich indicated that the starters will play, and only rested them last night because he did not want them playing a back-to-back. If both teams win tonight and if both make it to the finals (a big if) then a coin toss will decide home court.
(Side note: Really, a coin toss to determine home court in the most important games of the season, can't we have a Scalabrine v. Bonner 1 on 1 match or something?)
Focusing on tonight's game, the Bulls should come away with an easy win. The Nets have nothing to play for and are just an awful team seeing as their starting backcourt will be Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic. Besides fighting for the 1 seed, a Bulls win tonight will put Tom Thibodeau in the record books as he will tie Paul Westphal for best record by a rookie head coach. Thibodeau seems like the type of a coach who doesn't give a crap about that kind of stuff, but interesting nonetheless. Also, every fan keeps focusing on how fatigued Deng and Rose must be, but what about Thibs? The guy is much older, in worse shape, and plays hard defense the whole game; talk about fulfilling Norm Van Lier's pregame demand for "48 minutes of intensity". On to the game matchups.
PG: Derrick Rose vs Does It Matter?
-Derrick Rose has established himself as the best PG in the NBA and consistently dominated Deron Williams this season. Williams shot 1-11 in the last game and then blamed it on his wrist, which begs the question of why would you shoot 11 jumpshots with a messed up wrist? With Williams out tonight, Jordan Farmar will get the nod as the starter. Farmar is a half decent PG who was overpaid by the Nets and Rose should tear him up, although Rose may come out relaxed tonight and get Boozer the ball down low. Additionally, it's a great feeling to watch competitors dramatically overpay for decent players during free agency. Ex: Nets pay Farmar 12 million and Travis Outlaw 35 million. Great to see competitors just ruin their team, although the salary cap doesn't mattter for the Nets since Mikhail Prokhorov just promises them hundreds of gold bars after retirement. Advantage: If you don't know you should probably leave this blog and terminate your membership on the way out.
SG: Keith Bogans vs The Only Starter In The League Who I Prefer Less Than Bogans.
I have actually come around to Keith Bogans lately, atleast more than before. The guy has knocked down 3's at a pretty solid rate lately and plays good defense which culminated in him getting a defensive player of the year vote by Dr Jack Ramsay of ESPN, and that guy coached championship teams?? While I wouldn't go that far, he did a great job on Ray Allen the other day and does provide some leadership. The main focus here though is Sasha Vujacic, or as my friends and I have brilliantly nicknamed him, Douchacic. Clever, I know. Earlier this season when Sasha (ridiculous name) dropped 25 points in a game he said he could EASILY score over 20 a game if he wanted to, but he didn't think it would help the team. RIght, and Rondo can hit free throws. The guy plays bad D, has terrible shot selection, and the only reason I like watching the Bulls play against him is that I can hear Neil Funk blast him for a solid 30 to 35 minutes. Advantage: Bogans, is that the first time this season? Can someone look that up?
SF: Luol Deng vs Not Sure
Typically the Nets will have Travis Outlaw at the SF and play Humphries at the PF. However, Humphries is out for the rest of the year and Stephen Graham started here last game. Anyways it doesn't really matter because Deng has a massive edge here no matter who starts. Deng has been terrific all season and deserves some recognition on at least an All Defensive team. Advantage: Deng
PF: Carlos Boozer vs Not Sure Again
Last game, Dan Gadzuric started here however, Outlaw has played here before. Once again it doesn't matter because Boozer is much better than either of those guys. I won't rant about Boozer's play recently, but suffice to say I haven't been a huge fan. Hopefully he starts scoring more consistently and gets it going tonight. Advantage: Boozer
C: Joakim Noah? vs Brook Lopez
Joakim Noah is questionable heading into this game. It seems like he will play, but nothing is certain right now. I understand he needs the reps to get back to being the monster he was at the beginning of the year, but I would sit him and not risk further injury to the ankle. Normally this advantage would go to the Bulls but with a hobbled Noah or Kurt Thomas the Nets will avoid the sweep. Advantage: Lopez
Bench: The bench mob of the Bulls basically beats everyone other bench in the league, although Brewer will be out with a sprained thumb. He should be back for the playoffs though.
Prediction: Bulls should roll to their 62nd victory of the year. The game is at the United Center and the Bulls have been excellent at home, I'm predicting an easy and relaxed win. BIG MACS FOR EVERYONE, at least everyone who attends, which leads right into...
Quick Note: Normally I would kill for courtside seats or anything that close, however if you're sitting by Avery Johnson then sell your ticket this instant. Maybe it is just me but the man? has the most annoying voice and I have no idea why the hell ESPN ever hired him. Anyways, good luck to the Bulls though they definitely shouldn't need it.