The Bulls roll into Dallas to play their third game in four nights and the final game in the Texas triangle while the Mavs should be used to dealing with athletic point guards after playing a home and home with the New Orleans Hornets in their past two games.
Much like against the Spurs, the Bulls need to try to ramp up the pace. The Bulls match up better against the Mavericks though because the Mavericks don't have the same interior presence that the Spurs do as Nowitzki is a dominant scorer, but isn't necessarily going to beat you up physically.
Keys to the game
Derrick needs to dominate
The Mavericks have tremendous depth and very good players and backups at virtually all positions. The one thing they really lack is anyone who has a hope of staying in front of Derrick Rose. Rose needs to be in all out attack mode this game and needs to do damage at the basket rather than settling for jumpers. Jason Kidd and Jason Terry can't keep up while Jose Barea doesn't have the size to match up.
Omer Asik can make a big impact on this game
Taj Gibson has played poorly and, quite frankly, is no match for Dirk Nowitzki on defense. Joakim Noah, however, is a great match for Nowitzki on the defensive end of the court. The problem is that Gibson likely gets bowled over by Haywood / Chandler on the interior glass if you pull that switch. That's where Omer comes in. Throw Noah on Dirk and Omer on Chandler/Haywood, and the Bulls should match up well in the front court defensively.
Luol Deng needs to stay fresh for the fourth
What is it about coaches and overplaying Luol Deng? It's like his middle name is 'security blanket'. He's not killing guys out there or doing anything that ever makes you think "no way we can take Deng out!", and yet both Vinny and Thibodeau are reluctant ever to take him out of the game.
The problem is Deng wears down in games and over the season. He's not a player that should play more than 34 minutes a night unless he's completely terrorizing the opponents like his 40 point outing earlier this season.
This is especially true over the past few nights where Deng hasn't shot the ball well and Korver/Brewer have played at a high level. Get Deng some rest in the middle parts of this game so that he's ready for the fourth and doesn't break down in January.
Deny the corner three
Dallas has quality offensive players, and they're going to get their share of open looks, so if you give up an open three make sure it's from the wing and not the corner and try to force them into long twos when you can.
Much like against the Spurs, it's a game I feel the Bulls are underdogs in but have a shot to win. They Mavs are an older team, and if the Bulls can push the tempo up then they can find some success. They'll have better luck doing so against the Mavs than the Spurs given that the Mavs are probably a bit more free wheeling by nature.
The Bulls will likely require a big performance out of Rose to stay in this game, and Taj Gibson needs to come out of hibernation and deliver a strong performance. As noted above, I'd love to see Asik more in this game, but we'll have to wait and see if Thibs is think of the same adjustment.