[Thanks to regui8er for today's game preview. Need some next week, btw... -yfbb]
The season is still young, and while some new trends have emerged (defense, rebounding), the Bulls are still expected to be the class of the East and their record has been indicative of that. The Portland Trail Blazers have also carried over their success from last season into this year as they are currently sitting at 8-3, good for fourth in the hyper-brutal West and first in the Northwest Division. With the injuries to Westbrook and Durant, OKC may dig themselves in too big a hole to climb out of, and Portland will probably run away with the division.
Portland is generally a pretty terrible place for the Bulls. As we all remember what happened in the Rose Garden Moda Center almost a year ago to the date, it is probably better for Rose to avoid this forsaken place. The TrailBlazers have been playing well and have also had the Bulls number the last several years. They carry a five game winning streak overall and a six game winning streak against the Bulls. The last time the Bulls won against the Trailblazers was Nov 1, 2010 at the UC. The last time the Bulls won in Portland was Feb 3, 2007. The Bulls are 2-11 against these guys since 2008.
The Bulls have also been bad (for their standards) on the boards. The Bulls are ranked 14th overall in rebounds per game at 42.4 whereas the Trailblazers are 1st with 46.8. The Blazers are also at 7th overall in points per game and 6th overall in points allowed whereas the Bulls are 16th and 12th respectively. Needless to say this is a good basketball team and it's a shame that the Bulls are not at full strength, as this would be a good game to measure themselves with.
I loved this shot, it was great to watch live, since then Lillard has had a lot of hype with his new shoes and what not. Lillard started the season slow but has picked up play since then. Not known to be a strong defender Aaron Brooks may find success with him, but then again, Aaron Brooks isn't a strong defender either, so...
I like Wes Matthews, but Bulls should have the advantage here, his FG% last ten games are .438, and averaging 15.6 PPG. Whereas Jimmy is still awesome, shooting .521 and averaging 21.5 PPG.
We all love Dunleavy, he has been great this season shooting .438 and avg 11.5 for the season. Batum is shooting .354 and avg 9.0 PPG. Statistically the Bulls have the advantage, Batum has the reputation as defender and he definitely has the tools and length to be one. I am gonna give the slight advantage to the Bulls.
Advantage: Bulls, barely
Remember when we had LMA? That's right, neither do I. Good thing Tyrus Thomas sucked which let us get Rose few years later. Taj has been shooting at a .559 clip and averages nearly 13 points per game, he'll be getting a lot more burn with Gasol out. However LMA is no slouch and he is averaging 21.3 ppg. I always thought his man defense was good, but really the only game I saw was the one where Damian Lizard hit that ridiculous 3 against Houston to end the series so what do I know. Either way..
Noah vs Sideshow Bob 2.0 (1.0 being Varajeo). Robin Lopez has been playing great and is a big guy but Noah will be fine against him.
I don't see the bench playing that much as McDermott has not been playing well, and our next point guard has played only a handful of worthless minutes this season. Expect to see more pump-fake king Mirotic, which is always fun.
Expect Jimmy to play the whole game guarding Lillard and Matthews, but I see the Bulls winning. This is still the Bulls, and Thibs is still the coach. Usually the Bulls bounce back well after a loss and this could be a trap game for Portland as they have not played since Monday.