[Thanks again to THEKILLERWHALE for answering my clarion call for game previews. You guys should sign up like he did.
I'm so excited that this game is on ESPN so I don't have to listen to Funk and King. Less excited that an ESPN game means the Bulls are usually facing a good opponent. If you're thinking of going tonight, use our partners if you want Chicago Bulls Tickets -yfbb]
Okay you idiots, stop punishing YFBB for the change in format. Someone else has to do these previews every once in a while. Not just me and paddyfairview... on to the matchups!
Point Guard: Kirk Hinrich vs. CP3.
Kirk Hinrich is the grittiest, in-your-face, chew up the opposing point guard and spit of a shell of a man praying to be demoted to the D-League. CP3 is a tough, future hall-of-famer, but there was piss streaming down his hind legs the moment that he realized Kirk Hinrich rubbed some dirt on his elbow so that he could come out and humiliate that chubby little fool. I thank Reinsdorf every day that we have a front-office that places this much emphasis on narratives involving work ethic, grit and loyalty (which have nothing to do with race!) as opposed to statistics, comparative strategic advantage and reason.
Slight edge: Clippers.
Shooting Guard: Marco Belenelli vs. Willie Green.
This could have been an intriguing Rip vs. Mr. Big Shot matchup, but they will instead be on the bench nursing the wounds left over from their glory days in Detroit. Instead, we have Belli vs. Willie Green, both of whom pretty much fall out of the rotation completely when they are not starting (in a Bogans-esque type dichotomy). This is my second preview this month and I am just cranking it out over my lunch break so I will not debate the finer points of Willie Green's game and just call this one a draw. I should mention that Marco has been killing it lately and we are all happy for him.
Small Forward: Lu Deng vs. Caron Butler.
Caron is shooting a respectable 42% from 3 this season (he is at 39% for the past 10 games). His role seems to be knocking down the open 3 to make teams pay for over-committing to CP3 and their ultra-athletic front-court.
We are all aware of my feelings about Lu Deng.
Bigs: Booz + Jo vs. Griffin + Jordan.
I chose to do this preview because I wanted to write a short essay dumping on Blake Griffin. Here goes...
Several weeks ago I was watching one of these college football preview television programs where a bunch of former players and sportscasters sit at a desk outside and discuss this week's matchups (I do not watch much football but I was at the laundromat). For some insane reason, they decided to take an 8-year-old kid, sit him at the table with these grown men and have him make his picks. This was supposed to be cute because, "hey, he's a kid". The grown men engaged this child on his level, telling stupid jokes and generally debasing an adult conversation (about an admittedly trivial topic) and turning it into child's play. I find this type of thing nauseating since children should not be given the opportunity to dominate the public life of adults (here is a fine debate on the subject). If I were this child's parent I would have told him that no one gives a damn about his opinions, send him to the woods to build a fort and then taken these men to task for fostering the mistaken impression that this child is the center of the universe (I would have said these things nicely because I am a nurturing hypothetical parent).
What does this have to do with the NBA? Because of the youth and immaturity of the the players and the leagues desire to have a personality-driven narrative attached to the sport, we are often in a position where, again, public space is being dominated by children with bad taste. Persona non grata number one is Dwight Howard. When he interrupted that game to perform fake CPR on Big Baby, I was not embarrassed for him. I was embarrassed for myself for being in a position where this man-child was the center of my attention. A distant (well, incredibly distant) second is Blake Griffin. When he dunked over the car in one of the most cynical acts of product placement ever committed and then, in an act of monumental bad taste, thought that this should be complemented by all the faux-solemnity that a gospel choir could muster, I turned off the TV and have never watched an all-star since.
I do not blame Blake for his commercials and clumsy experiments with comedy. I blame the people that pay attention to him and foster this situation where a foolish, unfunny 23 year old receives this kind of scrutiny. I guess I kind've blame him for his strutting, posturing, comical-attempts-at-staredowns, etc.. My lunch break is almost over. I cannot finish this thought.
Last game, I believe that Jo was on Blake and Booz on Jordan. I still do not buy this newly intelligent DeAndre Jordan so this, and my unabashed homerness allows me to give the edge to Chicago.
Coaching: Thibs vs. VDN
Bench: Jamal + Bledsoe vs. Bench Slobs.
It should be noted that, last I checked, Crawford was leading the team in PPG from the bench and giving every BaBer another reason to hate the front office (since we could have given him Rip's contract). Bledsoe is a pretty athletic guy giving their bench a pretty frightening back-court. The Bench Slobs are starting to get together defensively but still do not have a good scoring option. Look for Lu Deng to play 49 minutes tonight.
Slight Edge: Clippers.
We got killed last time in a game that really signaled how distasteful this season would be at its worst and how improved the Clippers have become. The Bulls have come together a bit since then so this should be much more competitive. As I am an unabashed homer, I predict that the game will be a defensive clinic and the Bulls will hold off a late CP3-led run by the Clips, eventually winning with free throws.
Final Score: Bulls 95 - Clippers 92.
Check out the game on ESPN and check out the Clips Nation's take on the matchup.