[Thanks to TheHungarianJordan for today's game preview. -yfbb]
Let's just start by saying that Derrick Rose is out for this game, so we're going to be seeing a lot of Hinrich on Chris Paul. Vegas does not have a lot of faith in us (6 point underdogs), but usually Thibs teams do pretty well after a loss so we'll see how our team fares.
The Bulls (7-3) have generally fared pretty poorly against the Clippers (5-3). It's just not a good matchup for our team. Last year, we went 0-2 in two ugly games, losing by 39 and 22 points. Two years ago, we went 0-2 again losing by 21 and 5 points. In fact, the last time we beat the Clips was in December of 2011 when Vinny Del Negro somehow tricked the dumbest ownership group in the league under Donald Sterling into hiring him.
Both teams last played Saturday, so we should see a well-rested group. Let's go to the matchups.
PG: Chris Paul vs. Kirk Hinrich
Arguably the best starting PG against arguably the worst starting PG, not much needs to be said here. I like the comparison one BaB poster made of Hinrich being controlled by a 7 year old on an x-box controller when he's out there. We laugh so that we do not cry.
SG: JJ Redick vs. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy has been fantastic as of late. He's leading the team in scoring and his usage is going to be pretty high this game with Rose out. Redick has been pretty consistent in his career but has started the year off slowly from a shooting perspective. He's starting to shoot a little better now though after starting the season horribly. Redick doesn't foul a lot and Butler has been going to the line an astounding 8 times per game, so Butler is going to have to be very aggressive against a bad Clippers defense (22nd in the league) for us to have a chance
SF: Matt Barnes vs. Mike Dunleavy
Barnes has really struggled so far this year, while Dunleavy has been playing terrific for us. Look for the Bulls to sag off Barnes, as while earlier in his career he was a passable 3 point shooter, he has really struggled to provide anything on offense.
PF: Blake Griffin vs. Joakim Noah
A great matchup, Blake finished 3rd last year in MVP voting while Noah was 4th. Both have started out of the gate a little slow, and Blake's normally reliable midrange game has been down a bit this year. Noah's nado shot is starting to come on a little bit but he's still working himself into game shape and may still be on some sort of minutes restriction.
C: DeAndre Jordan vs. Pau Gasol
Pau has been one of the best centers in the league so far in this early season. DeAndre Jordan is somehow shooting an absurd 73% on the season. Pau may get posterized this game, but he's been a steady force on offense and defense.
Keys to the Game
Pace: The Clippers are going to be looking to push the ball a lot while the Bulls are going to be content with slowing the ball down and keeping it a halfcourt game. Don't fall into the trap of trying to outscore this team because we're not going to out-fastbreak the Clips.
Rebounding: The Bulls have been an unusually poor rebounding team and it has been a weakness all year. Luckily, the Clippers are the worst rebounding team in the league in terms of offensive and defensive rebounds per game. If we can't outrebound this team, we're in big trouble.
How the Bulls win: Muck the game up and win ugly. Play hard, tough defense and do not let the athleticism of the Clippers overwhelm us. Make Blake settle for long 2's because he has always been one of the best players in the league in the restricted area, and at all costs avoid giving up layups on the Blake/Paul pick and roll. We have a tendency to get blown out by this team, so hopefully we can at least keep it close.
You can read the excellent Clips Nation preview of the game here as well.
As an aside, if you would like some more in-depth Bulls analysis of the year so far, you can also listen to a new podcast that I and poster Slowmotion have put up here.