Bulls @ Pacers - 6PM CST on CSN+

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Boston Celtics vs. Chicago BullsJoakim Noah here knows how I'm feeling about tonight's game.   Sure, it's a preseason game.   It doesn't matter.   We won't know anything more about the team than we did before it, but with that disclaimer out of the way, I'm jacked up like a spider monkey on mountain dew for this one.  

I don't care that it doesn't mean anything.  I don't care that I'm blowing my friday night to stay home and watch preseason basketball.  I'm psyched. 5 things to watch for tonight

1: How does Derrick Rose defend T.J. Ford?

One of the great things about this game is that Rose gets a tough defensive matchup right out of the gates.  Ford is a small, fast, penetrating guard who will force Rose to work hard and focus for as much as the two are paired up together.

2: Luol Deng's health.

Does Luol look good on the court?   How much does he play relative to the other starters?   Is there explosion in his game, or does he look like he's struggling.  You hate to keep bringing this stuff up over and over, but Luol's health is going to be one of the big themes this year until he's proven he's healthy, and we'll get our first glimpse of that today.

3: James Johnson's ability

In preseason, we'll probably get a bigger look at Johnson than we may get later on.  It's his big chance to earn minutes in the season without an injury.  It's always fun to watch rookies, and Johnson has a chance to grab doubters by the throat and force them onto the bandwagon.

4: Joakim Noah's conditioning

Joakim Noah's image has driven a lot of fans mad.  I'm not one of them.  I love the guy and have loved him since he was at Florida.   However, he hasn't had great off-seasons his past two years.  He promises that he worked hard this off-season, and this will be our first chance to see it.   I don't expect him to come in and show us a ton of new post moves, but I do expect him to come in and hustle every minute he's on the court.

5: Does Tyrus look like he has break out potential?

After Derrick Rose's improvement and Luol Deng's health, is there any bigger X-factor in the season than what Tyrus Thomas brings us?   I think not.  Tyrus still has a chance to blossom into a star player even if we don't feel it's a good chance.  He seems to have had an excellent off-season, and his switch to local trainer Josh Oppenheimer may have been a great move for him in allowign to work with a guy every day rather than for a few weeks like he was doing with Thorpe.

Honorable mention:  What does Vinny do?

Of all of the pieces of the puzzle that are complete unknowns, you'll find out the least about Vinny tonight.   Since it's a preseason game, you can't really see how he's managing the rotation.   Rotations are meant to get guys minutes and different types of looks in preseason, not to win games.

You also can't necessarily judge the schemes used too much because they'll likely still be rusty after only practicing for a week.  The preseason is different for everyone, and Vinny is a big X-factor this season, but we won't get to decipher his X until the regular season starts.

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  • Anyone else leaving work early to get home in time to watch the game live? No? Just me risking my career over a Bulls pre-season game? Oh well...

    I just have two things to add to your post:

    1) Will all those 3-point jumpers Derrick Rose was working on in the off-season pay off? If he can add that to his game, he will be one of the most unstoppable forces in the league, as he's already close. With the addition of a 3-point shot, and the hand-checking rules already in place, there will simply be no way to effectively guard him.

    2) I actually trust Vinny with his rotations. He seems to reward the hard working/effective players and sit the malcontents/lazy players. A crude system perhaps, but effective usually, as well as morale-building for the team because the rules are clear and if they play hard/well they know they will get PT.

    So what I'm watching to see from Vinny is whether he has learned how to use a timeout. Del Negro's timeout usage was absolutely putrid last year. Using them trying to control every posession in crunch time, calling for set plays that often killed momentum for a team that relied on running and attacking the basket. Using them inefficiently throughout games leaving them with none when they needed one more in the final seconds. I hope he has this process worked out a bit better.

    I am also interested to see if Vinny and his staff decided to actually implement an offense this year. As of yet, his offense has essentially been "Ok, BG or Derrick, get the ball at the top, we'll have someone set a screen, then you guys figure it out." That's pretty much it. Hopefully with the departure of Ben (and Vinny's reliance on him) and the return of Luol (who needs designated offensive sets to be effective) we will see an actual offense being run.

    Can't wait for tonight! (Is it sad I'm more excited about this than the Olympic announcement? My guess the answer to that is "Most likely.")

  • I think the most excited I've ever been to watch a preseason game was in 1996 Rodman first game as a Bull. Does that age me?

    But yeah I have to say I agree Doug I'm pretty excited myself and I will watch the whole game because my life is that pathetic... well if my gf doesn't complain about wanting to go out. In that case I guess I will record it.

    Looking forward to seeing the rookies and I really like what I saw from Taj Gibson this summer I wanna see if he can actually score in the post. What do you know about Taj Doug? Do you think he'll have a productive rookie campaign? Maybe I'm over rating the kid but I think he could be a steal. From the little I saw of him he did have some pretty nice offensive moves but of course it was summer league.

  • It's hard for me to separate the Chicagoan in me from the American in me. I too worry about the costs and taxes that will inevitably follow a potential bid 'win'. And I feel that in the tradition of the Chicago Way, any long-term profitibility from the Olympics will be felt only by the higher-ups, with the middle class stuck footing the bill. But at the same time, shouldn't some things outweigh that financial fear? Because it's not just about Chicago, it's about the midwest, it's about our country. And the one event every 4 years that all people in the developed world pay attention to. That's when I start feeling guilty, and like a selfish jerk, because I'm complaining about it potentially costing me a few extra bucks here and there. I think I won't know how I feel until the final decision is actually announced.

    Plus I would absolutely LOVE to see the US Men's Basketball Team play.

  • Well, doesn't matter now. Chicago is officially out of the running for 2016.

  • Well, doesn't matter now. Chicago is officially out of the running for 2016.

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