[Thanks to jrobulls for today's game preview. The next couple of weeks are available for sign up -yfbb]
The circus trip is over, and it could not have been soon enough. The Bulls (7-8) come back to Chicago to face the Pelicans (8-8) for the first of two meetings this season. This will be the first game at The United Center this season without Rose, as the Bulls are still undefeated at home, posting a 5-0 record. However, after the 1-5 "whatever is happening to this team" trip, that home record may end sooner rather than later; but let's hope sooner is not tonight.
Bad news for the Pelicans: Anthony Davis was injured during the first quarter against the Knicks last night, and will be out for an unknown amount of time. He injured his left hand, and it was revealed it was a single, non-displaced fracture. Davis was playing exceptionally well, averaging 18.8 pts, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.6 blocks while shooting 49.8% from the field. With no Davis, that should give the Bulls a little more room in the paint. However, the Pelicans are a pretty deep team and do not rely on any one person to do the work.
The injury to Davis should not shuffle the Pelicans starting lineup too much. Anthony Murrow has started the the last 2 games over Al-Farouq Aminu, who apparently is not in the best favor with coach Monty Williams. Below is the projected lineup, but it very well may change come tip time.
SG - Eric Gordon - Maybe this is the year Gordon stays healthy the whole year, and he has so far this year. Averaging 15.6 PPG, he also attempts 4 3-pointers per game, making them at a 36.9% clip. Not an amazing percentage, but he's more of a shooter. If he has a good look, he will shoot.
G/F - Anthony Morrow - As noted above, Morrow has started the past 2 games, but only received 17 and 13 minutes of playing time. Usually an effective scorer off the bench, he is shooting 51.3% from 3 point land, averaging 7.2 points in 17 minutes played over the season.
PF - Ryan Anderson - The man replacing Davis is filling in for one of the best shot blockers in the league, but don't let that fool you. Anderson is an effective player, and can score from almost anywhere on the court. Anderson had his own injury problems at the beginning of the season, missing the first 9 games with a broken toe. However, since coming back, he has been a scoring force, averaging a team best 20.7 PPG, 5.4 rebounds all while shooting 50% from the field. From behind the arc? 53.8%. Filling in for Davis last night, Anderson scored 31 points while shooting 7-11 from 3 and shooting 11-21 from the field in 36 minutes. He may not bring the defense like Davis, but can certainly make up for it in his shooting ability.
C - Jason Smith - The 7 foot center has started all 16 games this season after coming off the bench last season, and is doing well, averaging 10.3 PPG while grabbing 5 rebounds. He is also shooting 50% from the field.
Key Bench Players
G/F - Al-Farouq Aminu - He may or may not replace Morrow tonight in the starting lineup, but he averages 16.8 minutes scoring 3.8, but grabbing 5.3 rebounds. Plays more of a big man role inside.
PG - Brian Roberts - Averages 5.3 points, 2.1 assists in 14.4 minutes.
The Pelicans average 9.8 steals per game as a team, 2nd best in the NBA. Even without Davis, the Hornets are a good team, with guys who can heat up and score. However, since they are in the West, having a good team may not cut it to make the playoffs.
Bulls staring 5: Hinrich, Snell, Deng, Boozer, Noah
Overall outlook: With Davis out, now might be a good time for the Bulls to win again!
Miscellaneous: I typed "Hornets" several times throughout, because my mind still cannot process that "Pelicans" is a team name.
Finally: don't be afraid. Be terrified...
Tip at 7:00 CST/8:00 EST on CSN Chicago.