[thanks to kunaal for today's game preview. Early start tonight, first open thread at 6:37 -ed.]
The Bulls are off to a good and somewhat lucky 5-1 start with the unpredictable Pistons coming up. The Pistons have looked terrible at times, but have also had wins over the Pacers and the Magic, so they shouldn't be taken lightly. A little background on this Pistons team...
After a great start to his executive career, culminating in an Exec of the Year Award and a NBA Championship, Joe Dumars has done a complete 180 and put together one of the most illogical rosters in the league. As of now, Dumars deserves an invite to Bill SImmons's annual atrocious GM summit. The Pistons are actually a deep team with plenty of young talent, but none of it fits. People constantly make fun of David Kahn for having 16 point guards on a 13 man roster, but Dumars has 4 combo guards on his, while not having any true point guards. Rookie Brandon Knight, Ben Gordon, 50 Cent (Rodney Stuckey), and Will Bynum are all scoring guards who aren't great distributors. Heading into this offseason, why the hell would you pay Rodney Stuckey 25 million just to block Brandon Knight's development? At SF the Pistons have Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye, who are the exact same player, yet Dumars shelled out 27 million for a 31 year old Prince. At PF, the Pistons have the massively overpaid Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, and Jonas Jerebko. Jerebko is a fine player but once again Dumars paid him 18 million when no team would even go close to that figure. At C the Pistons have the promising Greg Monroe and Bulls favorite, Ben Wallace.
Enough venting on a stupid and high salary roster, on to the game matchups.
PG: MVP vs Rodney Stuckey. Not much to be said here, massive advantage to the Bulls.
SG: Rip Hamilton or Ronnie Brewer vs Ben Gordon. I assume Rip will play because of his Piston history, but it's likely a game time decision. Although Ben Gordon has struggled mightily since joining the Pistons, he dropped 26 the other night in a win over the Magic and I'm sure he'd like to bring his A game against the Bulls. In the Bulls home opener last year Gordon dominated for stretches of time before Rose took over and won that game. Brewer has played well and shot well this year, although last night against the Hawks his shooting resembled last year. Regardless of who starts for the Bulls, I'm giving the Pistons a slight advantage.
SF: Luol Deng vs Tayshaun Prince. Two similar players, except Deng is playing more like Prince in his prime, while Prince has clearly regressed due to age. I'm still questioning why the Pistons even signed Prince and didn't just give his minutes to Austin Daye, but I'm guessing Dumars did it for nostalgic purposes and depth. Deng has been off to a terrific start this year outside of his 3 point shooting, and he is still playing ironman minutes. Pretty clear advantage here for the Bulls.
PF: Carlos Boozer vs Jonas Jerebko. Jerebko is the type of player that may give Boozer problems because of his energy, somewhat like Tyler Hansborough, but Boozer should have his way on offense considering he has about a 35 pound size advantage. Boozer had an off night against the Hawks, but I expect a good game out of him tonight so advantage Bulls.
C: Noah vs Greg Monroe. Greg Monroe is one of the best young centers in the league. He is well rounded and passes extremely well. Noah's description is pretty similar and this should be a good battle. However because Noah is coming off a back to back, and has struggled to start the season, I'm going to call this a push.
Bench: Bulls bench mob beats just about anyone, but with CJ Watson out and Rip Hamilton possibly out, the advantage actually goes to the surprisingly deep Pistons.
Coach: Tom Thibodeau vs Lawrence Frank. Frank is a good coach and certainly an improvement over John Kuester whom the team boycotted, but the reigning coach of the year is going to win just about every matchup so advantage Bulls.
Prediction: Normally I would go with a Bulls blowout against the Pistons, but the Bulls are coming off a back to back where Deng and Rose both played around 44 minutes. I still think the Bulls will win, but on the road it may be closer than some anticipate.