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More Bulls/Blazers: It's the defense*

The illumination of pace-adjustment was in effect, as the Bulls giving up 109 points to the turtles of the NBA is even worse than at first glance. Watching so many of those baskets come in transition makes it even worse.

Some links for you to check out this morning, from John Hollinger (who was courtside, so you can't say he didn't see the game! unless he likes beer lines), Sam Smith, and Doug Thonus at ChicagoNow, which all pretty much ask the same question: Is this defense actually as good as they'd looked in January? Or was it the softer schedule, more home games, and a possible expiration date on Kurt Thomas that has this team now showing slippage?

Smith's piece in particular has a lot of Thibodeau quotes, and pretty exclusively about the defense. As noted by Smith, Thibs cited the need for changes but did not indicate that change being in personnel.

That type of change, of course, will come with Joakim Noah's return. While Kurt Thomas has been fantastic relative to expectations, and does actually hold some advantages defensively over Noah, the speed, length, and athleticism gap the Bulls sometimes face (and personified by Aldridge last night) will be greatly diminished with his return. But it doesn't mask everything that's been happening the past couple of games, and the possibility that this team has a very good D, yet maybe not the best in the league, is a potential worry.

Also of lesser note from the game recaps is Nic Batum saying Rose "can't play defense", not exactly true but he did have some evidence last night with Rose biting on pump-fakes constantly. And just to reiterate something: as a single win where he's touted of 'willing' the team to a victory shouldn't earn him MVP (and saying so makes one sound dumb), the outcome of last night's game isn't an indictment on that candidacy either.

*it's also Keith Bogans