Bulls vs. Pistons: Joakim Noah, Marco Belinelli may return

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Bulls going for 19 straight against Detroit

[Thanks to THEKILLERWHALE for today's game preview. Inspired work. There are still some openings left this month if you're interested. And if you're interested in going to the actual games, use our partners if you want Chicago Bulls Tickets. And sorry about the headline -yfbb]

Hey gang,

the Bulls will take on the Fort Wayne Zoller-Pistons at the Palace Arena in Auburn Hills Michigan at 6:30PM CT. The Pistons have lost the last 18 to the Bulls and are currently at 25-52 on the season. For an injury report, I must quote KC:

Thibodeau said he's "optimistic" about Noah, Belinelli playing vs. Pistons. Taj, Rip, DRose out.

From a strategic standpoint, it seems like the Pistons have entered the "rebuild" stage prematurely, handing out big minutes to their raw youngsters and generally doing a good job of competing for a high lottery pick (HERE is an article on this development). I usually hate tanking but, if the process includes playing your projected "core" big minutes, I am not so opposed. On to the matchups!

Point Guard: Kirk Hinrich vs. Jose Calderon.

Freshly rescued from his well, Kirk Hinrich is affecting the game in all the little ways with his steady hand and savvy play. His cerebral game, loved by the sport's connoisseurs, almost never involves being baited into poorly timed fouls and frustration induced T's. While you idiots may not appreciate all that he brings to the table, rest-assured, this team would be bound for a high lottery pick without him.

Edge: Even.

Shooting Guard: Marco(?) vs. Brandon Knight.

I hope that we give Jimmy that starting job. Knight is averaging 13 points on the season and is in that no-man's land between PG and SG. He also elbowed Jimmy in the face and got an earful from Nate so hopefully this will bring some edginess out of the Bulls in a game that they may otherwise be tempted to phone-in. I have no idea what has happened to Rip Hamilton but there was a time when he returned from injury early to play his old team but he has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth.

Edge: Even

Small Forward: Lu Deng vs. Kyle Singler.

[UPDATE by your friendly BullsBlogger, 5:23 PM CDT: per KC, Deng bruised his thigh in the last game and is out tonight. It's being sold as precautionary more than anything. ]

In a battle of the least-irritating Duke alum versus the 33rd most irritating Duke alum, Lu Deng takes on Kyle Singler at the SF position. Lu scored 28 points on 18 shots against this team in their last encounter and is a big reason why the Bulls pulled out the victory. Singler can probably be a rotation player going forward but his 8/4 in 30 minutes over the last 10 games does not bode well for his potential as a starter.

Edge: BULLS!

Center / Power Forward: Carlos Boozer +Joakim Noah (?) vs. Andre Drummond + Greg Monroe.

The big news for the Pistons is that they are giving starting minutes to Andre Drummond in a bid to get the big man up to speed with the NBA game. He's not great, but he has potential, although his free throw shooting will have to break 40% if he is going to have a chance in this league. Booz was not good versus the Pistons last time out. Jo may come back and, if so, we will kill these jokers. If not, his back up is having a bit of a reNazr-ssance himself and will surely put these young punks in their place.

Edge: Bulls.

Alright, that's it. The Bulls will probably win but, as we have seen, if they do not come out with defensive intensity, they are capable of losing to any team on any given night (this is the other side of their being able to beat any team on any night).

Prediction: Bulls will win 95-89 after a lackadaisical first half. The Pistons will wilt under heavy defensive pressure from the Bulls in the 3rd and 4th quarter.

Check out the game at CSN-Chicago+ or NBALP for you non-Chicagoans out there.

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