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home team vs. road team, offense vs. defense
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The Chicago Bulls (29-19) will appear on TNT for just the second time this season as they take on the surging Denver Nuggets (31-18) tonight. The Bulls, as Zach Lowe beautifully demonstrates here, have built a reputation of wearing their opponents down through their stifling defense and their tenacity on the glass. The Nuggets on the other hand like to run, run and run some more. Denver ranks seventh in the league in offensive efficiency and 2nd in pace so you can bet Tom Thibodeau told the team that they're going to have to be firing from all cylinders to come out victorious tonight.
The match-ups are going to be interesting as both teams are going to be eager to show the National TV talking heads that their respective franchises should have gotten a little more recognition as prime time entertainment.
The Bulls are currently dawning the best road record in the league at 14-8 despite dropping two tough losses at the Barclays Center and the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Nuggets conversely are the 2nd best team in the league at home.
A key similarity that both of these teams share which makes them pleasurable to watch for NBA junkies is that they are unbelievably well-coached. Tom Thibodeau and George Karl shared coach of the month honors for their respective conferences in the month of January. Combined, these teams only dropped seven games as their coaches preached teamwork, consistency and hard-hitting rebounding.
For fans that might switch the channel during tonights' game since the Bulls' and Nuggets' don't exactly scream "NARRATIVES", I'm here to remind you all of the hot and sweaty Rip Hamilton for Timofey Mozgov rumors that fans have been raving about. Take this game as an audition for those two.
With Chicago struggling recently and the Nuggets looking to complete a 6-0 home-stand to go with an eight game winning streak, the cards seem to be stacked against the Bulls. However, Thibs' isn't one to allow his team to lose two games in a row, especially after the embarrassing defensive outing Chicago had against the Pacers. Now that they're one game behind their division rivals, the guys should have a bad taste in their mouth, the kind that prepares them for a tough win.
As far as injuries go, it looks like Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer are a go while Marco Belinelli is a game-time decision. Kirk Hinrich is still out, but who cares?
Look for Denver and Chicago to go at each other all night, with some ferocious battles on the glass and the kind of stifling ball movement that makes all our mouths water in delight. My prediction? If Good Nate shows up, the Bulls squeak by and add another win to their list of reasons why they'll be a true contender once Rose is back.