I know I keep moving the goalposts when it comes to assessing the Bulls, but facing Cleveland (it's kindof unfortunate that the Cleveland game was buried in a holiday weekend, because that was a great win) and facing Phoenix are two completely different 'tests'. Luckily because they're in a different conference, this is a test that doesn't really matter if the Bulls 'pass' or not.
But I'm hoping that the game stays close, because if so it'll be a fun an exciting game. While not as acclaimed as Phoenix, the Bulls do their share of high-paced-ball-movement-offense-things that can be especially effective against a poor defense. Unfortunately, the Suns are not a poor defense, they give up a lot of points because they drive the pace of the game so high, but in the pace-neutral society of the future they'd be recognized as pretty good. Especially with Hinrich being out of the game, the Bulls will have a tough time slowing down these guys, but maybe they can have some fun staying close through matching their scoring.
Of course, there is the distinct chance of a huge early deficit because Ben Gordon will be sitting on the bench.
This whole Gordon thing is driving me crazy, and likely isn't doing much for him either, since this catch-22 situation has his bench role being further cemented the better he plays. In my mind it's a complete disconnect between correlation and causation. Yes, Gordon has been playing better since he went to the bench. But I've yet to be convinced he's playing better because he's been coming off the bench. Even the token excuses that have been offered, such as the benefit of playing against other teams' bench players (lets bench Wallace too!), or him needing to watch the game before entering it (so can he start the second half then?) aren't really doing it for me. And it really makes me wish there was no such thing as the 6th man of the year, because now becoming a mutli-year recipient of that award is something to shoot for? How about becoming an all-star?
Of course, if you're a big Kyle Orton fan you likely point to the Bulls record during that time and figure: why change things? Well, if they're getting pounded by a Western Conference powerhouse tonight (my personal 4-0 in-attendance record will be tested tonight!) you will likely be thinking of ways for the Bulls to get better, their nice record be damned. And an easy way to start would be giving Gordon more than 30 minutes a night. He's gotten 35 the past two games with Hinrich out, but when the normal rotation returns I want superstition to get thrown out the window and the better players getting the minutes.