MVP candidate, and German forward, Dirk Nowitzki and his newly upgraded Dallas Maverick make their way into the United Center tonight, hoping to extend Chicago's three-game losing streak. The Bulls have dropped three games to Indiana, Atlanta and Memphis by an average of 14.3 points a game. The loss of Joakim Noah for the month of march has hurt the Bulls, as they've been forced to stretch the rotations.
All-Star point guard Derrick Rose has promised to get the attention of the referess, after feeling ignored in the loss to Memphis on Thursday. Rose was grabbed, hit and bumped constantly all throughout the game, but attempted only two free throws.
Luol Deng had a solid night with 23 points on Thursday, and will once again be required to have a strong game. Deng will match up against Shawn Marion and Caron Butler all night, and will have to establish himself offensively in order to make them play both ends. Marion in particular has been on and off this year with his defensive commitment, and Deng will have plenty of opportunites in exploring that.
Forward Taj Gibson played 30 minutes against Memphis, but picked up six fouls and was mostly a non-factor. It's important for the rookie to have a strong bounce-back game, as his opponent is Dirk Nowitzki, currently averaging 25.3 points on a TS% of 57.1. Nowitzki has been on fire this season, making game winning jumpers, stepping in late in games and has even further improved his post game. There's no doubt his name is at top of the Bulls game plan tonight.
Caron Butler was traded from Washington to Dallas nine games ago, and he has not yet fully settled in Dallas. The guard/forward struggles from behind the arc (8.3%) and is still in the process of learning the defense. Nevertheless, Butler has added depth to their rotation and he's been getting his hands on a lot of balls and is forcing turnovers out there. On occasion, Butler has also been used on smaller guards, so don't be surprised to see Butler guarding Derrick Rose a few times tonight.
Guard Kirk Hinrich is going through one of his worst seasons as a Bull. His statistical contribution doesn't look all that bad, but the guard has missed a lot of wide-open jumpers, eaten up a lot of clock with no results, and hasn't been effective in late-game situations. Hinrich, 29, has been the subject of trade rumors the last two years, and will be so once again this summer.