First off, thanks to Mike for handling the game threads over the weekend. Bet you didn't even notice, I'll be damned if we're not seamlessly integrated over here at Blogabull.
Dallas is likely the 3rd best team in the NBA, albeit a tier below San Antonio and Detroit (who pummeled the Bulls on Saturday). One of their better players in Josh Howard is out, and Jerry Stackhouse is dealing with his annual leg ailment. This has Dallas pretty thin on the wings, so thin that former Bull Adrian Griffin may start and get major minutes for the Mavs.
The Bulls proved that they can play superior teams well, with 2 strong showings (and one win) against San Antonio. They still have nobody who can guard Dirk Nowitzki, although I'd like to see if Luol Deng can get an extended trial to do so, as I feel he'd have at least a better chance than Nocioni would. Skiles may be forced to given how everyone has been picking up early fouls lately.
Blogging with the Enemy: Rebel Ballin'
I'll be in attendance tonight trying to extend my own streak, of both Bulls wins and hot dogs eaten.
And by the way, it's Hardwood Classics night, with the Bulls sporting the '46-47 road unis of the Chicago Stags. The Bulls have barely changed their uniforms in their own 40 year existence, so a reach like this is acceptable, I guess.
UPDATE: Well, it was all about Dirk. Tyson Chandler, Andres Nocioni and Darius Songaila alternated unsuccessful attempts at guarding Nowitzki, who finished with 35 points despite shooting poorly in the first half. I still think Luol Deng should have gotten more of a shot to guard him. If you remember seeing Tracy McGrady in the playoffs, Nowitzki seems to have more trouble with lengthy players who can stay in front of him.
Dallas had 15 offensive rebounds which perhaps seemed to hurt more watching it in person but still had an effect. Also, I highlighted in the preview the fact that the Mavs were weak at the wing positions, and starting Adrian Griffin was a sign of that weakness. Ole' man Griff showed up his former team with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Tough to fault the effort, although a lot of loose balls and possible defensive boards went to the Mavs. They are simply a hard team for the Bulls to match up with. Kirk Hinrich left very early in the game with a concussion, which made things even worse with Chris Duhon also seeming to have trouble with his ankles during the game. So, for the first time all season, Ben Gordon had to spend extended minutes as the primary ballhandler. He made up for it with his hot first-half shooting (I believe he had 18 in the first half), but overall the offense seemed to stagnate without Kirk or Duhon out there. In the frontcourt, Mike Sweetney played only 22 minutes as the taller Mavericks like Dirk, Eric Dampier, and Keith Van Horn really made it hard for Skiles to find a place for him.
Luol Deng had another strong game, shooting 12-15 for 25 points. Maybe it is time to get him in the starting lineup. I still would have liked to see him have the chance on defense to guard the big German though...