[Thanks to BigSmooveDucky for today's game preview. Apologies for getting it up a bit late. -yfbb]
This season has been very unexpectedly tragic, frustrating, and uplifting. Before I get into the preview, I'd like to recap three of my personal favorite moments from this season:
1) Bulls vs Grizzlies in St. Louis, MO: Despite me growing up five minutes from Simeon, it took me going to college in Missouri and a two hour drive east to St. Louis to finally see Derrick Rose play live, and it was totally worth it. You never know just how fast and strong a player is until you see them with your own eyes, and watching Derrick play that night was surreal. The one play that stood out to me was a fastbreak midway through the first where Derrick sprinted three-fourths of the court and completed his signature acrobatic layup and got the foul. Too big, too fast, too strong, too good.
2) January 1, 2014: This was the day when the term "tanking" left our vocabulary forever. Since this date, the Bulls have gone 36-15, the best record in the Eastern Conference of the calendar year. And this probably doesn't happen if the Bulls don't trade Lu and don't sign DJ Augustin. Though parting ways with Lu was really tough and caught us all by surprise, it was the spark this team needed to get going, and adding DJ to mix the mix only added fuel to this fire. The Bulls have had four separate streaks of winning at least 4 or more games, including their recent 7-game win streak.
3) Joakim Noah: Jo is always a treat to watch, but this season has been nothing short of awesome. He has always been my favorite player on this team but now I think he has cemented his place as my favorite player of all-time. There is nothing this cat cannot and will not do--he is a one-man wrecking machine. When he was linked to trade talks and many fans and analysts where willing to swap him for Dwight Howard, I was one of the few against it. Howard may have had more potential, but he doesn't have the same drive, the same motor, or anywhere near the skill set that Jo possesses. Plus, Dwight doesn't deliver life changing quotes like these.
Tonight the Bulls take on a playoff contending Bobcats team. This game will determine the seeding for both teams. If the Bulls win, that will put them in a position to clench the 3rd seed, although they will need help from the Nets, Wizards, and Raptors to secure it. If the Bobcats win, that will put them in position to take the 6th or 7th seed, but they will also need help from Brooklyn and Washington.
I expect the Bulls to win, but I think they will struggle. Charlotte is a talented team and should not be underestimated. I believe the Bobcats will give the Bulls their best shot to prove to every other team in the East that they are a force to be reckoned with. However, if the Bulls lose it won't be caused by anything Charlotte does; it will because they beat themselves. Chicago can handle Charlotte's best shot no question, but I see the Bulls letting the Bobcats hang around early and then losing control of the game in the second half, only to mount a furious fourth quarter comeback fueled staunch defense and clutch 3pt shooting. I also expect Tony Snell and Jimmer Fredette to see some decent action at some point before garbage time, but this might just be wishful thinking.
Here's to the close of another wonderful season of Chicago basketball. Ball's in!
Tip-off is at 6:00PM CT, CSN-Chicago and ESPN 1000AM