Bulls vs Blazers 7pm on WCIU/NBATV

As I expected, the Bulls enter their third game of the season after splitting their first two games.   If the Bulls are to overachieve in November, this is one of the 'winnable' games where I'd generally consider them an underdog.

Working against the Bulls is a lack of depth and poor play by everyone outside of Rose, Noah, and James Johnson's 19 minutes, but working for them is the game is at home, and Portland doesn't have anyone who scares the crap out of me on offense.

The keys to the game:

1: Can we find any half court offense outside of Derrick Rose?

Derrick is accounting for an absurd percentage of the offense, but what's scariest is that when Rose is not in the game, and the Bulls aren't forcing turnovers for transition hoops, the offense is downright scary bad. 

Rose is creating off the dribble, but the Bulls don't appear to have any other half court options working whatsoever right now.

2: Push the tempo

The Blazers like to slow down the game and make it a half court affair, which is an interesting choice given the youth and athleticism of their personnel.   That said, the Bulls struggle in the half court and excel when forcing turnovers and ramping up the pace of the game.   If they get stuck in a half court slugfest, then they're far more likely to struggle in this game.

3: Will James Johnson get another chance, and can he deliver?

He had a PER of 34.4 last game, so let's not expect that to happen again.   However, the question is will he get another chance, and will he generally play well?    Right now, Bogans, Luol, Korver, and Brewer are all struggling a lot, and Korver's the only one who's such a threat that he impacts the game even while struggling.

Johnson's outplayed all of those guys (except Deng) all preseason long.  I'd be tempted to try Johnson on Brandon Roy defensively at some point in this game, because he's probably better than anyone else we can throw on Roy at this point.

It was great to see JJ step up last game, but I'm far away from believing he an bring large positives like that to the floor every night.   Still, no one else is bringing anything, so I'd like to see the Bulls try.

4: Can the Bulls win the front court battle?
The Bulls need to win the front court battle in this one, because the Blazers are going to win the perimeter battle unless Derrick Rose is simply unreal again.   Their depth on the perimeter vastly exceeds ours given how our players have performed so far.

However, the Bulls should have a large advantage with Noah going up against Camby and need Taj Gibson to hold his own against LaMarcus Aldridge.   I like Noah to outplay Camby, and think Taj is the type of guy who can annoy LaMarcus Aldridge with his physicality and perseverance.

Talentwise, I think it's a push between the frontcourts, but we need to win this battle to win the war much more than they do.

5: Luol Deng, where are you?

I'm not asking you to create your own shot.  I'm not asking you to play like an all-star.  I am asking you to hit open jumpers, rebound, and show up to the game though.   Your PER on the season is .6.   Less than 1.   You're better than that, and tonight would be a good night to remind people of that fact.

Final thoughts:
I think the Blazers are a bit better than the Bulls while we're missing Boozer, but they're not tons better, and the Bulls are playing at home.  I'd make us slight underdogs for the game, but it's one that they can get out there and win, and if they want to at least tread water around .500 before Boozer gets back, it's one of the easier "hard" games they'll have a chance to pull an upset in.

Comments

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  • This could be the loss that was suppose to happen Sat. Night if the offense doesn't show up again. Hopefully everyone will find their offensive game tonight while playing some descent defense.

  • Hopefully they can stay out of the early foul trouble that has really got them off to terrible starts. They have been sending the other team to the FT so often it isn't funny. Keeping Rose and Noah out of foul trouble is crucial. Like to see Asik continue to get some play with Noah as well.

  • Come on starters Rose shouldn't have to carry us each game until Boozer comes back at the end of the year! Our season seeding could be such crap by then especially with the long road trip!
    Deng & Korver need to play a lot better...Ronnie especially does if he wants to be the starter again and/or see any minutes outside of garbage time. Come on Utah East (Brewer/Korver) start bringing it!

  • Portland are like the Bulls ...A second tier team. But, they have one superior talent in Brandon Roy. They have what we struggle with i.e. offense whenever they need from Roy. Rose is getting there but not there yet.

    The one thing I hope is they gel a little better by the 3rd game. Why is Deng doing worse in Thib's offense than VDN's offense? Is he hurt or is he a head-case again because of all the trade stuff or hopefully he was just pressing the last two games..

  • DENG IT:

    I expect a great game from Luol Deng tonight.

    He's put up 20+ points the last two times he's played vs. the Blazers.

    - 25 and 23 a year ago.

    * It's time he STEPS-UP and becomes that 2nd scoring option for the Bulls.

  • That's an interesting comment about Rose not being on Brandon Roy's level yet. On the one hand last season after he got over his injury Rose averaged more points then Roy in just his second season on similarly high FG%. Roy's rebounds are higher, but Derrick gets more assists.

    The reason this comparison is interesting to me is that if Derrick Rose is not just a PG, but what many feel needs to/can be a premier scorer then he needs to do what premier scorers do. Show up a potential rival in a stud battle like this. Say: Rose 27 points on 46-47% with Roy at 22 or if the D lets down or Roy goes zone for say 27 then Derrick breaks 30.

    Even if Derrick weren't to match Roy the tell tale sign that he's embraced the scorer stud role(which it appears he has from his actions and comments about a Wade paralell etc.) would be if Roy looks agressive/is putting up a lot of his team's points then Rose follows suit directly. Even if Roy outscored Rose the challenge would still be engaged.

    I like that more and more people are embracing Derrick as the "scoring" guard regardless of what position he plays. It's unique to combine the assist feed player with the big time scorer rely upon/take(shots) player. I've always felt that Derrick plays his best the more playing time he gets, and the more engaged/centered the team's flow is through him.

    Can Derrick do both(26ppg and 8-10 assists), and still have energy for his defensive responsibilities? I doubt it could hurt since he again seems to be a better player period the more he is involved in the game.

    As for Deng from his third season and beyond when he's played 60 or more games he's avergaed over 17 ppg and 48 FG% is excellent. With his 3-pt shot looking viable he will be a good player overall, but his up and down history means he will not be looking for the ball/consistently producing every night. But at least he's a guy who when he's not feeling it doesn't chuck up a bunch of shots. I feel a little funny using the verb/word chucking in regards to african-americans but hositing sounds antiquated.

    Anyhow whether the Bulls win or lose tonight, I think each of these next several games without the second best player are as much about confirming the quality/product of other guys then it is about winning. If Derrick brings it with energy and agressive scoring yet again, and Deng has an 'on' game which includes the new crucial threes then to me we are in good shape for the long term when Boozer comes back.

    And Derrick putting up a lot of shots..? Well he shot almost 50% from the field in the Detroit game with what 3 three's and over 10 trips to the line. I will take that every time.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Great points about Rose and Deng.
    1. One thing about Deng in the last two games which we need to appreciate is for all his struggles and the pressure of being the 2nd scoring option, he has not taken 20/25 shots. Maybe he should have done that to get into a rhythm but it also showed the bad parts of his game i.e. dribbling and passing. But, it also shows how much of a team player he is and not trying to please the fan and doing what is good for the team based on his struggles.

    It might be too premature, but Rose will not be a Jason Kidd type PG(even though he is mostly the same size,strength).

    I hope Brewer, JJ, Bogans bring it on and focus on defense as their offense is not their strengths now. If they do a combined good job on Roy...it will also validate Thibs's defensive schemes against a all-star SG.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Jason kid is not the same strength as Drose. I dont recall jason kid having a 42" vertical.

  • In reply to vinmotors:

    It is generally accepted that Kidd is one of the stronger and taller PGs. Rose is being depicted the same way. It doesn't mean exact measurements. I am comparing to their basic game(Kidd is a pass first PG and great court vision while Rose is turning out to be different in general) and their general physicality. I didn't say same athleticism.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I didn't watch the last game, but Taj had a awesome season opener!
    Both him and Noah will be bothered by Aldridges size and athletism so if Taj is getting smoked...match up Noah on him and Asik as the Center. Camby is athletic and long as well, but is aged. :-)
    Wouldn't hurt for us to have a vet big besides Kurt Thomas, we need anothe 7 footer with size and a presence bad like Dampier.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Spot on regarding your thoughts on rose as a score first point guard. Sure it would be great if he could average 9 assists along with a ppg avg in the high twenties, but as you said we need his energy for scoring and defense. But to be honest I could see him reaching at least 8 apg once boozer gets back.

  • JOAKIM NOAH:

    And he finally needs to SHOW UP vs. the Portland Trailblazers.

    If I'm not mistaken, he's averaging 4 points and 5 rebounds for his career against them.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Expect a double-double. Noah is playing great the past two games and just wants it right now.

  • NO MISPRINT:

    Joakim Noah has been a NON-FACTOR vs. Portland, thus far in his career.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/h2h_finder.cgi?request=1&p1=noahjo01&p2=roybr01

  • BETTER COMPARISON:

    Joakim Noah vs. LaMarcus Aldridge

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/h2h_finder.cgi?request=1&p1=noahjo01&p2=aldrila01

    It's not been good for Joakim Noah.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    This is where stats don't tell the truth. I don't remember the other games but last year in the infamous VDN fiasco game against Portland, the Bulls won because of Noah. I remember that's why VDN kept Noah in the game because of the impact he was making and the way they struggled when he wasn't there in the same game..

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    schaum,

    How about records?

    Noah and the Bulls are 1-5 vs. the Blazers. I expect a WIN though.

    10-5 to start the season.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    10-5 would be an AWESOME start to the season without BOOZER.

    CAPITAL letters.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Noah needs to guard Aldridge....We didnt pay him all that money to sit there and waste his talents guarding Camby. Camby has killed us in the past rebounding too...so someone needs to box him out. But ya, I want to see Noah on Aldridge tonight. Hopefully we can finally get something out of our half court offense, because that has been terrible so far. We honestly have nothing but Rose right now. James Johnson make a statement tonight...show the Bulls you are ready to contribute night in and night out. Omer Asik....keep playing man, try to stay out of stupid foul trouble and continue to hustle. Deng needs to step up....he has been no where this whole season. Like Turdburglar said, hes losing his value right now an thats not a good thing....so for value sake hopefully he plays well. Lets go Bulls....lets get a tough win tonight.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Why did we do a draft day trade with Portland and trade away Aldridge for Thomas? We had some good players along the way, Elton Brand, Ron Artest, Tyson Chandler but they didn't stick!
    I actually wish we kept Tyrus Thomas and Thabo S. because we know that TT would really utilitize their defense!

  • In reply to smiley:

    troy,

    Aldridge isn't all that special. That's why.

  • In reply to smiley:

    Mitchell,

    I'm cool with Dampier going to Houston. Earl Barron is still out there.

    And maybe Houston lets Chuck Hayes go, along with Jermaine Taylor.

  • In reply to smiley:

    I would like to see Asik get some time this game as well. Not for any offense, but I think he can be an intimidationg presence for anyone who decides to drive the lane and he can collect rebounds. Camby is a great rebounder, but Asik could probably move him around and disrupt his game. Camby is not a big scorer so hopefully Asik wouldn't pick up a foul every 2-3 minutes trying to guard him.

  • In reply to smiley:

    Why don't the Bulls bring in another big, I mean not a skinny 7 footer but someone with some size and a presence...a nba vet would be good here! Is Chris Richards still on the roster? What is the love affair with him? We have some hot Lovabulls we don't need a another guy on the bench with a pony tail...Noah is enough! LOL

  • In reply to smiley:

    troy,

    Chris Richard isn't on the roster. And the Bulls need a WING scorer, first and foremost.

  • In reply to smiley:

    NOAH AT PF GUARDING ALDRIDGE!!!
    I want to see significant JOMER minutes with Noah at PF guarding LaMarcus Aldridge and Asik guarding Camby. Taj cannot guard Aldridge as he is simply too big, too strong and too talented for Taj.

    Does anyone remember the last time Bulls and Portland played on Feb 26, 2010? Aldridge was scorching Taj for 32 points, and Brad Miller was too slow to handle him either. When VDN moved Noah onto Aldridge he shut him down! And that's the reason Bulls won in OT. I hope Thibs makes this matchup adjustment.

    I also like Doug's idea to match JJ on Brandon Roy. If Bulls can contain both Roy and Aldridge they can beat Portland. Only other players who can physically matchup with Roy are Brewer and maybe Bogans and neither of them are playing well. Nobody but Noah can physically matchup with Aldridge.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Thibs might use a combo of Asik and Kurt Thomas on Camby for 20 min and Noah on Aldrige for 20 min and Taj on Alridge for 20 min. I have also read that Aldridge has bulked up a little bit...but that said he is not a inside player and is mostly a jump shooting PF. So, Taj might be ok.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Last time Bulls played Portland on February 26, 2010 Aldridge scorched Taj for 32 points! Aldridge is too big, strong, talented for Taj. It's not Taj's fault, its a matchup nightmare. Aldridge is big enough to play center, Taj is not.

    It was only VDN switching Noah onto Aldridge that saved that game for Bulls.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Asik and Kurt Thomas deal with Camby. Noah on Aldridge with Taj coming off the bench. That give Bulls the best chance to win this game.

    I like Taj, but he is simply physically outmatched by Aldridge.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Edward,

    I think the WING players, on both teams, will be the X-FACTORS tonight.

    - Luol Deng
    - Kyle Korver
    - Ronnie Brewer
    - Nicolas Batum
    - Rudy Fernandez
    - Wes Matthews

    Whichever team's wings player better should win this game.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    PREDICTION #3:

    What do you know? I was RIGHT again.

  • In reply to smiley:

    Had the Bulls kept Aldrdige (or, for that matter, simply drafted Roy), there would have been no Derrick Rose (Bulls would have eeked out another couple of wins along the way, I'm sure, and been out of position).

    The Bulls wouldn't have won the title in any year with Aldridge (or Roy), and Derrick is by far more exciting to watch.

    Long-term, this trade has worked out for the Bulls; just not in the way they originally thought.

  • In reply to saigman:

    It's weird how things work out. But you never know, Roy might have been hurt all the time and still Bulls would have got the Rose's pick.

    Eventually, if we get a stud either by trade or through the draft for the Charlotte pick.......that would be the greatest equalizer for Roy/Aldridge.

  • In reply to saigman:

    Emperor,

    Two words...TALENT EVALUATION.

  • In reply to smiley:

    As for Deng- I was thinking, with all this Melo talk - he may be out trying to destroy his trade value...

  • In reply to turdburglar:

    Look, deng has been a large source of frustration over the past few years, but the guys personality has never been the issue. Deng is a flat-out team first player, he isn't the type of guy that is going to dog it just so he can stay in Chicago. On the other hand, I believe deng has had some serious psychological issues, some of which he has alluded to previously. He has talked about feeling discouraged believing that he has let everyone down in not living up to his contract. He doesn't deal with pressure well, he likely suffers from the same type of anxiety that plagues millions of Americans each day. Sjnce he does appear to have a somewhat, for lack of a better term, fragile mind, I do believe trade rumors can have an adverse effect on him, but not in the matter you describe. If you've ever dealt with anxiety issues you know that having uncertainty surrounding your life, especially job related, can become an exponentially magnified issue for ones mind. I don't blame luol for these issues, its just sad that his confidence and anxiety problems have held back a truly solid human being from reaching his full potential. I was very optimistic during the preseason as it seemed luol had reached some peace of mind, it showed in his game and was even eluded to by him in interviews. Hopefully he can take a step back and regain that inner peace, I know it sounds crazy but I really think that is the key for deng.

    And I'm not some deng sympathizer, i'm just calling it how I see it.

  • In reply to turdburglar:

    I like the idea of JJ on Roy...but i can already see it now...JJ will put up 2 quick cheap fouls just because hes a youngster and Roy is the superstar. If JJ does get a chance to guard Roy...he needs to back off of him a little bit so he can stay in the game at least lol I like his athleticism an size against Roy though.

  • In reply to Csharp:

    csharp,

    Step back into reality for a moment.

    B. Roy would DESTROY JJ in that match-up. JJ would foul out in the 1st half.

  • In reply to turdburglar:

    Noah definitely needs to be on Aldridge, but giving him different looks with different types of defenders will help to keep him off balance mentally. If you are saying Noah should guard aldridge all game you're basically conceding that taj gets very little playing time as he cannot match up with camby. Look for Noah to start on camby and constantly give help to taj with Aldridge. It will be interesting to see how thibs uses his bigs in the rotation when Noah is out of the game. If camby and aldridge are in the game it will be tough to match any of our two bigs that don't include Noah. Asik will need to play well defensively in moans absence, and it would be nice to see Kurt thomas stretch the inside defense with his mid range non jump shot.

  • In reply to turdburglar:

    Prediction for Tonight

    Rose- 27 points 5 reb 6 assist
    Deng- Lousy Again with 14points 5 reb 2 assist
    Noah- 14points 14 rebounds

    Bulls Win by 5

  • In reply to Csharp:

    csharp,

    Oops...avoid the prediction game. Just a suggestion.

  • In reply to turdburglar:

    turd,

    If that's the case, then Deng is a turd too....haha.

  • Agreed.

  • MATCH-UPS:

    Starters...

    PG - Rose vs. Miller...advantage Bulls.
    SG - Bogans vs. Roy...advantage Blazers
    SF - Deng vs. Batum...DENG NEEDS TO WIN THAT.
    PF - Gibson vs. Aldridge...advantage Blazers.
    C - Noah vs. Camby...advantage Bulls.

    Bench...

    PG - Watson vs. Johnson...advantage Bulls.
    SG/SF - Korver/Brewer vs. Fernandez/Matthews...KORVER/BREWER NEED TO WIN THAT.
    CF - Johnson vs. Cunningham....JOHNSON NEEDS TO WIN THAT.
    C - Thomas/Asik vs. Oberto...advantage Bulls.

    The depth is pretty equal right now between the two teams. It's all about out-playing and out-working the guy across from you.

    Who wants it more? We are going to find out later tonight.

  • The thing that gives me confidence in asik's future as a scoring threat is that he has already been very good in getting himself in a solid position to score, which is half the battle. His finishing abilities right now however, are very very poor. He needs to learn to hold the ball high and hard, and to finish with strong layups low on the back board or flat out dunk it with two hands. As I said he already positions himself well which is a huge head start in his overall development.

  • It's never a good ideal for a player to destroy his image in any case! It's just plain stupid Turdburglar!
    He has had a tough time with Durant and Prince on him both being his size and lanky the 1st 2 games...he should do better tonight and needs to...he needs to be the 2nd option and hit his open shots along with Korver for us to beat the TBs tonight at home.

  • In reply to smiley:

    That is true that Deng has had some tough matchups- I was sort of joking when I made the comment, but if history is an indicator- Deng's game goes into the tank any time trade rumors pop up. I hope he turns it around too and I am content with the Deng we saw in pre-season moving forward. Let's hope he can get back there, but he was AWFUL and thanks to Thibs for sitting him down and allowing us a chance to get back into it against Detroit. We've got Portland tonight so if you're theory is correct, he should do ok against Batum?

  • In reply to smiley:

    I also think Korver will have a decent game tonight...9-10 points

  • In reply to Csharp:

    Too many guys need to break out: Deng, Korver, Bogans, Brewer. Even if 2 of them have their avg games, that would be great.

    Again, we will see how much Thibs's coaching on the offensive side is effective i.e. how he helps out our 2nd option(Deng) in getting him high percentage shots..

  • In reply to Csharp:

    lol I usaully only bash Deng....so if he sucks tonight, youll probably see me posting something about it lol

    MrHappy...ya i know JJ probably stands no chance vs Roy but Id like to see the Bulls give him a try. Like we both said, he would probably pick up 2 quick fouls in the matter of minutes guarding him.

    Asik on Camby
    Noah on Aldridge
    I want to see these matchups

  • In reply to Csharp:

    csharp,

    It could happen. I'm guessing Bogans, Brewer and Deng get that duty though.

    This could be a mix and match tonight on defense, top to bottom.

  • In reply to Csharp:

    REPORT:

    CARLOS BOOZER is getting his hard cast removed tomorrow.

    http://twitter.com/KCJHoop/status/29415488997

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I think Boozer is playing with KC.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    It looks like Bogans is afraid to shoot. We know he is used to starting to starting but playing with a bunch of offensive players in San Antonio maybe has stopped his need to shoot

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Thibs should have let JJ play even with 3 fouls. Taj is being again plagued by foul trouble for silly fouls. He was doing well on Aldridge whenever he was there on the floor.

  • I think Taj might be able to handle Aldridge for about 20/25 min if he is not in foul trouble. That's the key with Taj from what we have seen. It is amazing some people are ready to say he cannot guard Aldridge. It is Taj's second year for heaven's sake. Unless he is a bust, he can handle the speed and strength of Aldridge except for the length.

  • Doug,

    Noah played in both games last year. Remember the VDN-PAX fight?

    Game #2.

  • Mitchell,

    They need a young wing, who can score. Taylor fits that description.

    I'm want Melo, but I'll take a DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH, if they can find him.

  • I know Deng was 2-10, but he seemed to play better than that stat. He was at the line 7 times which means 3 of those misses came when he was fouled. hed seemed like one of the only players trying to force the refs to give us a call and knocked down 5 of the 7 once he got there. Additionally, he had 2 or 3 of his other shots go half way down and pop back out. hopefully he gets a few to fall early tonight and we can get the pre-season Deng back.

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    2-10 means he made two out of ten attempts (8 misses, not 10). Also, if you're fouled, misses do not count as a field goal attempt (only if you make it).

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    Luol Deng is who we thought he was.....sucks against good talent but does well against scrubs lol He is having a nice game tonight...hopefully its raising his value again lol

    ASIK!!! love this guy....Noah playing well too. Aldridge is tearing it up right now. I want to see Rose keep scoring.

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    PREDICTIONS:

    Was I right or was I right? Did I not say Deng would have a GREAT game?

    He kills Portland...40 point!!!

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    Whoa! Luol with 40! Quick trade him for Melo while he is still hot!

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    Thibs did a fantastic job of managing the foul trouble!

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    PREDICTIONS (part 2)

    I believe I also said that Noah tends to struggle vs. Portland.

    At least he got his double-double. CRAZY FOUL TROUBLE TONIGHT!!!

  • Mitchell,

    Deng NEEDS to REBOUND.

    Batum has been crashing the offensive boards quite well this season.

  • Mitchell,

    CATCH and SHOOT...that's what the Bulls need.

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