[Thanks to fleng2 for today's game preview -yfbb]
6:30 CT / 7:30 ET / 4:30 PT The Palace, AUBURN HILLS
The Bulls march into the Palace of Auburn Hills off of a brutal loss to the Brooklyn Nets with a season high in turnovers (28) and a season low in assists (12). Ouch.
And to think, this was just two games ago:
Bulls committed just 3 turnovers today, setting a new franchise record. #NYKvsCHI- Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) March 2, 2014
The last time these two teams met, the No. 5 seed Pistons manhandled the No. 7 seed Bulls. Kirk went 1-for-10, Noah went 1-for-7, and Bulls fans were beginning to brace themselves for the tank. Since then, the Bulls have traded Deng (and Teague), and replaced them with various combinations of Martin, James, DJ, the Varnado, Tornike and JIMMER!
So of course it makes sense that the Bulls have been throttling opposing offenses, shown glimpses of what might be a real NBA offense, and have sparked a serious national lovefest for the team. Oh, our Anti-Tank Commander and Captain Kirk have played marginally better too. The Bulls find themselves battling the similarly surprising Raptors for the 3rd best record in the red-headed stepchild conference.
The Pistons have since slid all the way to 9th place. This Pistons' offseason was a flashy one and the front office was talking about how adding talent in this age of positionless basketball would take them back to the playoffs.
It didn't work out. The Pistons have looked out of sorts and are on the outside of the playoff picture. Their coach has been fired. The defense is a sieve and there are rumblings that they will trade Monroe.
But this still isn't a game to be overlooked. The Pistons have 22 games left and are only 3 games out of the playoffs. The 8th place Hawks have been tumbling down the rankings ever since Horford was out for the season (we feel you Atlanta). This would be a huge win for them in trying to be the first round punching bag for the Pacers or the Heat.
This game will go as the respective team MVPs and their merry band of big men go. Expect to see physical battles on the glass all night. Very few NBA teams boast the glut of big men talent that the Bulls and Pistons can.
The Pistons are led by Andre Drummond, a bright spot on a rough season for a struggling Pistons team. He seems like a good guy. He's getting MVP chants at the Palace and is coming off a monster 17 point, 26 rebound performance against the self-destructing Knicks. Although to be fair, he was playing against this matador Knicks defense:
We all know what Noah has been up to. Averaging 7.7 assists in the last 5 games, recording triple doubles, chest bumping, looking out for his rook (Grandmaster Noah!) and basically kicking ass and taking names.
I think Noah and the Bulls (new band name, I call it!) bounce back; Thibs has a pretty good track record. I don't have a statistic, but he rarely loses 2 in a row. We had a bad loss, and contrary to Thibs' belief, we weren't going undefeated the rest of the season. Shit happens.
It's not the most important game of the season, but one we should lock down before we face the Grizzlies, Heat, Spurs and Rockets. Games like these aren't high profile, but they make me appreciate Thibs and the Bulls even more. We should all take a moment before the game to smile and just appreciate what we have.
Reddit had a beautifully succinct summary of the Bulls' loss: "Regression to the mean is a hell of a drug".
Let's bounce back and get this next one.
BULLS PROJECTED STARTERS
F - Dunleavy
F - Boozer
C - Noah
G - Butler
G - Hinrich
Bench - Gibson, Mohammed, Augustin, Snell, Murphy, Shengalia, Fredette
PISTONS PROJECTED STARTERS
F - Smith
F - Monroe
C - Drummond
G - Singler
G - Jennings
Bench - Bynum, Stuckey, Caldwell-Pope, Jerebko, Datome, Mitchell, Siva, Villanueva