[Thanks to AlexisIrene for today's game preview. I should commend anyone willing to talk about this game in the wake of Saturday's news. -yfbb]
Eleven games into the season Bulls fans waited entire season for, Rose is out "indefinitely" (some say up to 8 weeks) with a torn medial meniscus and panic has ensued. Now what?
First thing's first, the Bulls need to fix the scoring droughts that have either allowed the opposing team to build insurmountable leads or have us lose what should be considered a safe lead. With or without Derrick Rose, the Bulls have struggled to close out games. In two of the Bulls' five losses, they have lead by 20 points or more in the second half. Rose's presence didn't stop Philly and Indiana from taking the Bulls' lunch earlier this month. The 76ers and Pacers outscored them in the second half by 18 and 23 points respectively. Rose did leave the Portland game early, but he departed at the tail end of Portland outscoring Chicago 34-12 in the 3rd.
As the Circus Trip rolls into Los Angeles to take on the Clippers, the Bulls' inability to play four solid quarters (even with Derrick Rose) should be a bigger concern for Thibodeau and his coaching staff than the 6-8 weeks Derrick Rose is rumored to be out. If the team cannot identify and fix the problem, Rose might as well take this year off as well.
It's not to say that Derrick will not be missed against the Clippers. Chris Paul is an early frontrunner for the MVP votes and that would have been a fantastic matchup to watch. As a whole, Lob City has been entertaining for even the staunchest eastern conference devotee. When the Clippers are good, they're firing on all cylinders. Paul spreads the floor better than anyone and this team will beat you with lightning-fast plays and sheer bursts of power. They are, however, not without their struggles.
No matter how you cut it, DeAndre Jordan can't shoot. If he hasn't thanked Dwight Howard for taking the heat off of his poor free throw shooting, he really should. And while Blake Griffin has one of the fastest drop steps in the game, occasionally you'll catch him unable to do the one thing he's supposed to do well - post. As exciting as they are to watch, there are still enough kinks to make Bill Simmons' head explode.
The biggest (and most beneficial to the Bulls) weakness of the Clippers is their defense. In transition, they are often slow and frenzied. The best defensive threat that LA will throw at the Bulls will be DeAndre Jordan. Luckily, the Bulls have the best offensive transition big man in the game. Joakim Noah arguably pushes the ball up the court better than any active NBA center . Blake Griffin is a big body in the paint, but Carlos Boozer in the post has been the most reliable thing in this shaky Bulls start. And while I know this is going to sound crazy, the defensive matchup I look forward to the most, is JJ Redick on Kirk Hinrich. Kirk Hinrich doesn't always break ankles, but when he does, they're JJ Redick's.
With a 2:30PM tipoff, hopefully Bears are creaming the Rams by enough to flip the channel. Get excited, Bulls fans! It's the first day of the rest of the season. If we can be poised for a championship after Rose missed 43 games in 2012, there's no reason to say we can't be excited come next May. Get well, Derrick!