[Thanks to Greg for today's game preview -yfbb]
After yesterday's lazy but strangely exciting down-to-the-wire game, the Bulls come back home to meet Boston again in the second game of their back-to-back. We just barely pulled out a win thanks to a superb game by D.J. "Nate Robinson 2.0" Augustin. If our offense can maintain what it exhibited yesterday, while tightening its defense and lowering its turnovers, the game tonight should be a blow out. Not to mention Rajon Rondo is on a game restriction and doesn't play back-to-backs. Rondo had a solid double double yesterday but he looked to be going through the motions more than desperately wanting to win.
Despite being neck and neck with the Baby-Celts throughout the whole game yesterday, I couldn't help but think it was always going to go our way. There was this feeling the whole time that Boston was over achieving and the Bulls just weren't fighting with that patented Thibodeau edge. I would bet on the team correcting its play for tonight's game, and coming in with a kill instinct that should completely demoralize Boston and boost us through the last few games of the season. As Stacey King pointed out yesterday, this Bulls squad does have a tendency to play down to its lesser opponents, and I'm sure that's something they all recognize in the locker room and struggle against. We've got some very winnable games coming up so let's hope the Chicago uses them to learn and prepare for the playoffs.
I'm not going to bother with statistics for this one: we're better than them. The Butler Celtics have a very talented squad and showed yesterday they've got some real ballers, but they need to take their lumps now and grow together as a team. Rondo is habitually involved in trade rumors and I'm sure this summer will be no different, so they're a team in flux looking for an identity. There's a narrative that exists where after yesterday's close game, Boston comes out with the confidence that they can beat a team like our Noah-Bulls and come out fighting. But watching their body language yesterday suggested to me a team that knew they had a lot of lady luck on their side.
Already having clinched a playoff spot, the fight now becomes for the best seed, which in our case is numero tres in the Playoff bracket. Our schedule going ahead is very favorable, with only one important game coming up against the Bullets (I'm never calling them the Wizards. They've donned the bullet colors, time to revert back to the old name.) And, Toronto still has games against Miami, Indiana, and Houston, so there's a good chance we jump right over them into our official position has one of the East's best teams. And not to be xenophobic, but I mean Toronto's not even in America!
I digress though, for tonight's game, let's expect the Thibs D to clamp down and Green and Sullinger to have considerably less luck from behind three point range. Let's see if the Noah/Augustin tandem gets more minutes and whether Thibs trusts Augustin enough to give us the offensive punch we'll need for the playoffs. Can he be more than a DH?
"Captain" Kirk Hinrich
Jimmy "Buckets" Butler
Mike "I look just like my father" Dunleavy
Carlos The Magician Boozer (Now you see my hair. Now you don't!)
Joakim "Jono" Noah
Does it matter?
Prediction: Boston 82-BULLS 95