[Thanks to Uncle Stanley McGoober for today's game preview. Just posted many more openings if you're interested in doing a game preview. And if you're interested in going to the actual games, use our partners if you want Chicago Bulls Tickets. -yfbb]
To start, I want to say that I love what the NBA is doing this season. First, they name our hero, Joakim Noah, an All-Star reserve. Then, they bring back a series of throwback 90s jerseys to warm our giddy little hearts. And to top it all off, they decide that every team has to sit all of their starters for a full week! I think this was a genius move by NBA. It has really allowed the fans to gain appreciation for some of the league’s exciting, younger players that are usually out of the spotlight. I know for us Bulls fans it’s given us a chance to see the emergence of Jimmy Butler, and I’m sure fans around the league are enjoying seeing their team’s depth as well. So, on to the matchups!!!
Center: Nazr Mohammed vs. Ian Mahinmi
Usually this matchup would go against the Bulls, but I think Nazr really matches up well with Mahinmi given they both have the ability to spell their names with two different consonants in a row…..wait, what’s this?! I’m hearing something over my two-way walkie-talkie that I carry with me at all times. Hold on a second while I take this call, “what is it Sam? Yes…yes…oh really…it’s just the Bulls…Hinrich is in talks for a third year…your opinions are inherently better than mine…ok! thanks again buddy!”
Sorry about that guys, I just received word over my SamSmith-o-Phone that the NBA hasn’t actually decided to suspend every team’s starters. It’s just that the Bulls are really pathetic and all of their starters are injured at the same time…. That’s upsetting.
Well, I guess I should go back to analyzing the game now. The Bulls have really shown us something over the past 2 games. Not only have they been able to compete with playoff teams minus 3-4 of their team’s starters, but they have done so utilizing a small ball lineup that seemingly plays away from our team’s strength of defense and rebounding. In actuality, the small ball lineup has continued the Bulls trends of d-ing up and crashing the boards. The Bulls once again stifled Atlanta (limiting them to 76 points) while still collecting 18 offensive rebounds.
Unfortunately, the Bulls take on a tough Indiana team that beat the Bulls by 4 in Chicago in early December. The shorthanded Bulls of the past 2 games have relied on “heart, hustle and muscle” (™Stacey King) to stay in games, but this Indiana team is not one to be out-worked. Plus, the Pacers and Vogel always seem to be ridiculously fired up to play Chicago’s finest. On a per-game basis they lead the NBA in rebounding and they are second in scoring defense, having just held the potent Heat to 89 points. David West put up 30 points on the Villains of South Beach, as opposed to the 3-12 shooting performance he put together in the win over the Bulls in December. Paul George scored 34 on the Bulls earlier this year and he is now an All-Star (although an All-Star in a Luol Deng sort of way). And here’s a quote LeBron gave after this last game in reference to Paul George. "You don't need a quote from me," James said. "He's an All-Star." (From the USA Today, who clearly thought they needed a quote from LeBron and then put a quote saying he didn’t have a quote in their article. Journalism at its finest).
For the Bulls, Kirk is still out, Noah is doubtful, and Boozer is a game-time decision. Nate and Jimmy have been monsters of late, with Jimmy putting up double figures in 9 of his last ten games with Nate doing so in each of his last ten games. Deng is coming off a big-time effort against the Hawks, and lets hope Taj doesn’t lunch-pail himself to death with a third straight game of non-stop play. The Bulls are going to need Gibson’s length against the long Hibbert, regardless of whether Boozer plays or not (since Boozer is still lacking in the hops department despite his recent bouts of “dunk”). Hibbert shot over 46% in January after being around 40% in December and 38% in November, so he seems to be turning his season around (maybe Detlef Schrempf taught him a thing or two).
For more info see the Indy Cornrows blog. They have some good stuff over there. Actually, I’ve never visited their page. But, they probably have some good stuff, right? At least they aren’t Knicks fans.