[Thanks to paddyfairview for today's game preview. There are a couple openings if you're interested in doing a game preview. And if you're interested in going to the actual games, use our partners if you want Chicago Bulls Tickets.-yfbb]
I was hoping to gush about Derrick Rose for 4000 words (and a lot of gifs, youtube clips and ridiculous photoshop jobs), but Thibs says he's "unlikely" to play (not linking ESPN). When Thibs says anything other than "gametime decision", you can bet the player in question will spend the game in a suit. So other than pondering the potential of his apparently expanded offensive game (and possible minor growth spurt) we'll have to shelve the DRose talk for now.
But that doesn't mean we have to stop talking about injured Bulls - there's plenty of them! Hinrich is probably out (duh), Taj is, how you say, a GAMETIME DECISION, and Richard Hamilton is dead.
That means another episode of the NateRob & Marco Show, with a healthy helping of Jimmy Butler and a side of Marquis Teague (and a carton of mixed metaphors). You know the drill: Nate's limitations, Belly's solid and unspectacular play, Teague's flashes, Jimmy's griminess, etc., etc.
It's all part of the Same Old Shit of the dog days of the regular season. Boozer's been shining against teams with iffy frontlines, several aging Bulls have unclear lingering injury situations, and of course "heart huscle and muscle" continue to be inconsistent substitutes for shot creation. The recent results have been oddly predictable. A 40-point loss to an embarrassment like the Kings, followed by a thrashing of a playoff team in one of the toughest arenas in the NBA? That, as Sterling Archer would say, is classic them. When you root for the Bipolar Bulls, you just have to accept that sometimes they're going to throw A Farewell to Arms out the window at four in the morning, and trust that Thibs (in this case played by Jennifer Lawrence) is going to get them back on their meds in time for the dance competition.
As for the Nuggets: since obliterating the Bulls at the Pepsi Center on February 7th, they have lost 4 games and won 13, including the last 11 straight. That streak includes wins over the Lakers, Thunder, Clippers, Knicks and Grizzlies. They score the third-most points in the league (105.8), have the fourth-best FG% (47.7), seventh-best TS% (54.7%) and play at the second-fastest pace (97.6). I don't think I need to point out that the Bulls do not compare favorably in any of these categories. The Nuggets are in the bottom half of most defensive categories, but the speed and efficiency of their offense are more than enough to compensate - they are currently seventh in the league in efficiency differential at +4.75. The Bulls don't compare favorably there either (13th in the league with +0.99). [All stats per hoopdata.com]
The Bulls are well rested and at home, but the Nuggets have also had two days off. Depth is a problem: if Taj can't make it tonight then that's four rotation players out against a team whose bench includes Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler and JaVale McGee. Nate and Marco are probably going to have to bang home some threes, somebody's going to have to get Boozer going, Noah will have to clean the glass better than Kenneth Faried, Lu will need to be reasonably efficient, Teague will need to not give the ball away like it's clearance at Dick's, and guys will have to really be hustling back in transition. Thibs will need to find a way to give Noah and his feet a breather in a fast-paced game. It's a long shot. But I'm thinking positive. (Excelsior!)
Game's at 7 on CSN. Head over to Denver Stiffs for a little trash-talk. I don't know what you make fun of Denver people for, but you could start with the name of their blog.