Is it too early to call game 2 a "must win" for the Bull? How can a game 2 every really be a must win? I suppose after the 04/05 team started 0-9 and finished 47-35, there are no real must wins this early, but this one comes as close to qualifying for it as any game would.
If you've forgotten how ugly the early schedule is, then let me remind you, because this season could fall apart quickly.
Through the end of November:
Oct 30th: Detroit (favored)
Nov 1st: Portland (underdog)
Nov 4th: New York (push?)
Nov 5th: @ Boston (underdog)
Nov 8th: Denver (underdog)
Nov 11th: Golden State (favored)
Nov 13th: Washington (favored)
Nov 16th: @Houston (underdog)
Nov 17th: @San Antonio (underdog)
Nov 19th: @Dallas (underdog)
Nov 23rd: @Lakers (underdog)
Nov 24th: @Phoenix (push?)
Nov 26th: @Denver (underdog)
Nov 27th: @Sacramento (favored)
Granted, some teams may be better or worse than we expect, but without Boozer, I'd give this team 8 underdogs, 4 favoreds, and 2 pushes. The Detroit game is one in which they're favored, and if things go south there, the Bulls could be in for a real rough start.
My hope was that they could make it through the first 15 games at 7-8. It'd be a hole in terms of trying to compete for the 3/4 seed, but not an insurmountable one by any stretch of the imagination. To do that, they need to win all four favored games, both push games, and earn at least one upset.
It's certainly too early to panic, even with a 5-10 start, this team will rebound against the soft schedule that follows with a healthy Boozer and trivially make the playoffs, but if they want to be a second round team instead of a 1st round team then the stakes have been raised, and they need to start looking for more than win totals in the low 40s. It's critical to get a few of these early games, and that starts with a win against Detroit.
So, keys to beating Detroit? Only three for this game, because this is one the Bulls should put away fairly easily.
1: Don't play down to their level
The Bulls are simply considerably more talented. Who's the best player on the Pistons? Rip Hamilton? Ben Gordon? Tayshaun Prince? Rodney Stuckey? Those four guys are all okay individually but fit horribly with each other and none of them are particularly great. Their front court doesn't even match up against ours without Boozer, so we should have the advantage all over the court.
2: Play with energy
The Pistons are coming off a back to back and have several older players, we should run them up and down the floor and make them work all night.
3: Handle your fundamentals
We should be able to dominate the glass against the Pistons as they have a poor front court, and their guards aren't great rebounders either. If the rebounding edge is even, then the team with the team with better players wins. That should be us. On top of rebounding, the Bulls need to make sure not to be careless with the basketball. Do those two things, and the Bulls should dominate the game.
I look forward to an easy win for the Bulls home opener.