Last week was horrible for the Chicago Bulls who saw themselves lose all three games in disturbing fashion. First was a collapse against Tom Thibodeau and Minnesota Timberwolves, and then there was the back to back debacle against the Bucks where the Bulls looked like they didn’t want to play in either of those games. Chicago needs a good performance against the Detroit Pistons tonight or things could get even uglier.
Last year around this time, John Paxson spoke to Bulls about playing better together. Looks like it's time for Pax to address group again.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) December 17, 2016
Thankfully for the Bulls, their opponents haven’t been doing so hot either. The Pistons are entering this game on a two game losing streak, having dropped games against the Wizards and Pacers respectively. Ever since their win against the Bulls back on December 6th, the Pistons have only won two games and are now sitting 9th in the Eastern Conference. But they are only a half-game back of the Bulls for the 8th spot and a win would see them jump their rivals in the standings.
Detroit is a very young team and have some good pieces for the future. Reggie Jackson has taken on the role as the leader on offense while his backcourt mate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is showing signs as a respectable 3-point threat. Tobias Harris offers a sort of stretch four role while Andre Drummond is one of the best rebounders in the NBA, using his huge frame to get in front for tip ins and to crash the glass. But where the Pistons really struggle is their bench unit. 2015 first round pick Stanley Johnson hasn’t really shown a lot to this point and has been sent down to the D-League for some games to improve. Like how the Bulls do with Jerian Grant for example. Johnson still has a lot of time to improve on his game and he is expected to be a lot better in the future. But as of right now, he’s been resorted to a more off the bench role.
The biggest battle in this game will be between the Bulls bigs and Drummond on the boards. It will be a clash of one of the best rebounding teams in the league versus one of the best rebounding players in the league. Chicago is second in the league in terms of total rebound percentage at 52.4% and that is much due to the play of Robin Lopez, Taj Gibson, and Cristiano Felicio. Drummond is second in rebounds per game at 13.7 just ahead of Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan. Whoever can control the glass will be able to control the tempo of the game and will have the upper hand.
Another question to be answered is if Nikola Mirotic will play tonight. He has been benched the last two games after missing the bus in Milwaukee and showing up late to shoot around in the second game of the back to back. Not playing Mirotic doesn’t help the Bulls at all so it will be interesting to see if Chicago shoots itself in the foot again by not playing him.
Tip off is 7PM Central time and the game will be televised on Comcast Sports Net.