[Thanks to prevenge for today's game preview. Game Thread at 7:30. Luol Deng may play. -yfbb]
I initially wrote an entire game preview around the fact that the Bulls' last five guys were better than the Pistons best five guys. It wasn't entirely correct, but there are points where you can actually see the Bulls pulling out a game against the Pistons with the Lucas/Butler/Scalabrine/Gibson/Asik lineup. (One example: against the Wizards.)
So obviously the Bulls are actually playing against, um, the Bucks. You'd think that this destroys most of the preview that I wrote. And it does, except for one thing:
So, the Bucks. What to make of them? They're a team that you can't really predict: like most Skiles teams, the defense is usually there [though it wasn't last night!], but the offense comes and goes in spurts.
To put this in perspective: the game before losing to the Pistons [breaking the Pistons' 7-game losing streak: did you know that they have less wins than we have losses?], the Bucks did what (here in Chicago) is considered the impossible: they beat the Heat. How, you ask? I have no idea. It seems ridiculous. More fuel for people who say "Just because team x beat team y doesn't mean team x is better than team y!" Makes unbiased analysis real hard to do when that's the case. Which wouldn't be a problem, except that there's a game preview to do.
Well, that's okay, because in lieu of new content or "analysis", let me introduce the Player Neil Funk Will Rip On For The Entire Game Hopefully (courtesy of LensCrafters): Drew Gooden.
OH MY GOD THERE'S AN OCTOPUS GROWING ON HIS FACE! SOMEONE KILL IT!
And I say hopefully because he'll probably rip on Brandon Jennings or something. And I like Jennings. (Did you know his career high in points is higher than Rose's? He's also a lot worse. Like, a lot worse. I'll get to this in the matchups.)
Really, I like most of the players on that team – and I absolutely love that they traded for Stephen Jackson and are sitting him, and winning. (That's what you get for demanding out of places when you're not great at basketball, Captain Jack. It's okay, you have one of the best nicknames ever: after you retire maybe you can get some free bourbon or something.) But Drew Gooden sucks. I say this not as somebody who's watched the Bucks this season, granted, but as someone who watched Drew Gooden, Space Cadet, play for the Bulls a few years ago, when we had The Hair Who Shall Not Be Named as our coach.
I heard he's in California now. Hopefully he's sucking the brains out of some team that would otherwise be a contender. [Oh wait ... it's the Clippers.]
Sorry, I got really scared and blacked out for a second or two there. Um, Drew Gooden is bad. Why is Drew Gooden bad? Well ... because he doesn't have any idea what he's doing on defense. I saw a couple plays where Gooden was trying to guide a player baseline to help while he was under a basket. This results in dunks and other assorted scoring.
Basically, Gooden's bad because he's Carlos Boozer. Yeah. I went there. How scary is that? He's not exactly Boozer. I mean ... he dunks.
Oh, also, he's the linchpin of the Bucks' defense now that Andrew Bogut is out. Think about that for a second. Okay, you can stop now. Your brain probably hurts. Mine does. I'd say that Boozer is most likely, though, better on defense than Gooden, unless Gooden has somehow learned to play defense since he left. This is most likely a bad thing for the Bucks.
Let me get down to this last point before matchups, though: the Bulls are 19 and 6. Our worst loss, in terms of w-l, is to the Warriors: and they always beat us somehow, so you can throw that out. [The Bucks, you'll notice, don't have a bunch of fast guards to throw at D-Rose to trap him, either.] The other losses were to the Grizzlies, Pacers, Heat, Hawks, and Sixers. All good teams that're over .500.
The Bucks are under .500. And they just lost to the Pistons. Bogut is out for the year. Being a defensively-minded team during the short season probably hurts, too. Let's just say they're having a hard time adjusting.
Brandon Jennings vs. Derrick Rose
Jennings is streaky and doesn't have great court vision [he doesn't get a terribly high number of assists, and from watching him I'm assuming this is why]. He's too short to really see over people, and too weak to muscle his way in and finish at the rim. However, he's fast, he has an attitude, and did I mention he's streaky? He can catch fire, sometimes. Then again, we have Derrick Rose, who plays the game as though he's in NBA Jam with the cheat code where he's always on fire.
That better be a graphic and not real fire. We don't want any apple incident repeats.
Don't really know what to make of this matchup. Livingston's a good player, but since that knee injury he's been a low-minutes guy. Also, he's a point guard. Maybe they'll play someone else: I'm working off of the boxscore of the last game here, but the lost to the Pistons, so obviously things are subject to change. Korver hits threes but does nothing else: I'm tempted to call this one a draw, but I'm unsure how the Bucks are using Livingston. ... We'll call it a draw, possible edge on either side depending. Hopefully Korver brings his hot sauce. [Note: I put Korver here because I think this will be the defensive alignment if Livingston starts. I've been wrong before.]
Delfino had a series of concussions last year: it's good to see him back and unhindered by them. That said, I'm sure Ronnie can shut him down: Delfino at his best has a wildly varied game, but Delfino at his worst [and he's usually at his worst] has a wildly varied way to shoot a bunch of three pointers. He's decent, but not spectacular. And Brewer can shut down, you know, Wade and stuff. So that's a problem for Delfino, as long as Brewer can revert back to Starman mode and out of "dead Mario" mode. Or Butler can handle the assignment: he did well against Carmelo, at least. How much harder could Delfino be?
Carlos Boozer vs. Luc Mbah a Moute
The Prince is an offensive handicap, but he's great on defense. Look for Boozer to miss a bunch of maddening fadeaway jumpers, and Luc to miss one or two inexplicably bad wide open 15 foot jumpers.
Joakim Noah vs. Drew Gooden
If this was a hair battle, Gooden would probably have won last year: his hair-appendages look like they can eat people. But he shaved it off this year. Anyways, Noah is awesome, etc., etc., and he should completely dominate this matchup. I'm looking forward to it.
In the end, we have Derrick Rose. The Bucks don't. They have some good subs [Ilyasova and Leuer (hat tip to fundamentallysound), for instance], but Rose should get us the win here.
Bulls by 10.
The game's on WGN, I think, so we should all be able to watch it: vital, given what's been happening in the internetosphere. I night not be able to watch [I've seen precious few Bulls games this year], but Butler's always a good guy to analyze, anyways, when he plays. Hopefully the rook grows more as our schedule slows down and we get more practice time ... if that ever happens.