David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
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Battle of the indistinguishable Big Men
The overflowing optimism of your team's opening night was just dismantled by a rebounding machine. Every versatile action taken by this man accentuated by a mass of ridiculous hair and demonstrative outbursts, and with every offensive rebound you put your face in your hands and let the hatred burn its slow burn. I'm sorry Wizards, you've just met 2012's version of Joakim Noah and this version is uglier than the last. Or wait, was that Noah? You heard a steady stream of Portuguese swears when you expected the gentler French words. The man you must have been treated so rudely by was the equally contemptible Anderson Varejao. I don't blame you for the confusion, they are the same player. I wouldn't be surprised if one of them in the year 2050 when given the opportunity to time travel to any time and place in history immediately thought, "Rio, 1982" and preceded to lay the groundwork (so-to-speak) for his basketball analogue.
Each player had a stat line for the ages in their season opener, but Varejao's effort had only one statistical comparison in the history of the league. His 23 rebounds, 9 points, 9 assists had been accomplished just once previously, by a young Charles Barkley in 1987. Noah contributed no less to his own team's victory, registering 23 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals and 3 blocks in an effort I'm dubbing "Olajuwanesque" after discovering that Hakeem owned 15 of the 32 comparable games in league history.
You'd be right to think that these two players have been setup for a series of epic head to head intra-division matchups pitting their equally awkward and opportunistic offense against their equally energetic defense and rebounding. You'd be wrong in thinking its happened though. Due to injuries and the lockout, tonight's game will mark only the third time in the last three seasons that they've been opposites at tip-off. In their two meetings since the forgettable Del Negro Bulls were crushed by the Shaquille O'Neal edition Cavs its been a wash. Noah had more rebounds in both games but Varejao had more points. Tonight will be a flurry of hands and hair with only the bounce of the ball able to determine a winner.
The Best Player on the Floor
Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving makes an easy comparison to Derrick Rose. Certainly his first year was statistically better than Rose's but it didn't have the playoff moments (blocking Rondo in the waning moments of the third overtime!) that backup any sentiments about "wee-un"ing. I want to see them play each other. Hell, I want to see Rose play at all, but its not happening. And since either Irving or Rose was injured in all CHI v CLE games last year we might not see Rose destroy this young up-and-comer until 2013. In Irving's one game against the Bulls last year... well... CJ Watson orchestrated a 39 point blowout.
Irving is the type of player that Kirk Hinrch was signed at an above market rate to play against. Kirk's defense should slow Irving, especially in the half court, but Irving's defense (according to Fear-the-sword its suspect) won't be tested and he won't have to work too hard against a poor shooting slow dribbling offensive player like Kirk.
The Reasons for a Cavs Defeat
Quick! Out of Sammardo Samuels, Alonzo Gee, Luke Walton, Luke (two Lukes!) Harangody, Tristan Thompson, Jon Leuer and Omri Casspi put together some semblance of a depth chart at the forward spots. It might take a minute to search your memory banks for those names but give it a shot.
Ok finished? If you have Luke Walton as the first player off the bench you win! Cavs lose. Luke Walton is a player/coach mostly coach type of player. He's Scalabrine without the clown nose. He played 12 minutes against the Wizards and was -11. I can only assume that the Wizard's bench took him apart and I feel like tonight could be the best opportunity for the Bulls bench to coalesce into something resembling a "mob". Tonight's enemy blog Fear the sword was confused as hell as to why Luke Walton even saw the floor and can you blame them? You can blame Byron Scott that's who you can blame. Byron Scott is a coach who famously prioritizes golf over watching tape. Can you imagine Thibs with a golf club? He wouldn't know what to do right away but once he figured it out he'd probably drive a basketball ball the full length of the court.
Byron Scott took a stacked New Jersey team to the finals in a weak Eastern Conference and will live off that for the rest of his life. He makes Vinny Del Negro's dumb but caring coaching style seem attractive in comparison. As you watch Nate Robinson slice through a group of players you barely recognize tonight, be thankful that you are a Bulls fan and that the Bull's have a coach that can get the team to try hard.
And by trying hard the Bulls will win 93 - 87.