Chicago Bulls vs New Jersey Nets @ 2pm on WGN

For whatever reason, the Bulls actually had a hard time against the Nets last season.  They were the only team in the NBA who lost the season series to the Nets.   As such, the Bulls shouldn't take the Nets lightly (not that they should take anyone lightly).

I'd hope that a little revenge factor motivates them, and Tom Thibodeau's preparation seems to stop them from losing these types of games.

Keys to the game

Kurt Thomas can mug up Brook Lopez just like he mugged up Andrew Bogut

Thomas's physical play really bothered Bogut on the court, and he can do the same to Brook Lopez.   The Nets are in the midst of another rough season where all the joy is already sucked out of it.   Play physically against Lopez and see if he really has the stomach for it, especially if his team falls into a big deficit. 

Carlos Boozer needs to key the offense

The Bulls struggled getting anything done inside against the Nets last season.   That should change with Carlos Boozer on the team.   His inside presence should be the difference between this season and last season.

Derrick Rose can dominate again

Rose crushed the Nets in two of the three games last season, unfortunately, the Nets won both the games Rose played well in.   However, that has little to do with Rose, and more to do with lack of support, poor defense, and a random scrub lighting the Bulls up.

Rose should get whatever he wants against New Jersey to help pace the Bulls.

Luol Deng needs to step up as that third option

Deng's role has changed with the emergence of Boozer.  He still
needs to defend and cut, but he no longer carries the burden of the
second option offensively.   That's a great thing for the team offense,
as Deng doesn't create his own shot well, but he's struggled as a third
option as well up until last game.

Deng needs to get on a role and start playing higher efficiency
basketball.   A big part of his mini-slump has been poor three point
shooting.  Earlier in the season, Deng was firing without hesitation and
launching threes with confidence.  In his slump, he's visibly less
comfortable shooting the three, double clutches, and doesn't always
shoot in rhythm.  

Deng's played considerably better at home, so expect him to play well tonight.

Play team defense

Ultimately, the lack of team defense caused the two losses last season.   Lopez played well, but the Bulls weren't losing because of him, they were losing because they gave up 25 to Terrence Williams in one game and 20 to Chris Douglas Roberts in another.

The Bulls can't allow role players to absolutely dominate them.

Final thoughts

The Bulls should defeat the Nets, but they should have defeated them last year and managed to lose twice, so nothing is certain.   The mojo around this team is different though, and they seem far less likely to lose games like this. 

Tom Thibodeau keeps the guys focused on every game, and there are far fewer slips than there were under Del Negro.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

Comments

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  • Knowing that Thibs will not do any of the following here are my fantasy keys to the game:

    1)Start C.J. Watson at SG(not just for one game as they did Taj at center), but at least three or four and see what he does at his natural position. Aside, also then switch C.J. to the point, and let Derrick play some two/off the ball to see if he can explode and make it tougher on defenses to get comfy on double teams.

    2) Though in general I'd like to see this, but not against real scoring centers like Lopez then you need a rested Kurt Thomas, but otherwise get your second best big(if he's healthy) Taj Gibson on the court. Many league sources have acknowledged that Taj is a starting quality PF. So play him. Move Boozer to ten to 15 minutes of center so that both bigs can stay on the court.

    3)Rest Deng/reduce his minutes from 38 to 31 where instead of burnout periods/diminishing returns you get a lively game effecting Luol Deng every night out. Get Ronnie Brewer more minutes on the court in his stead and also J.J. one last chance.

    4)Play Kyle Korver with Derrick Rose. Some nights Kyle is just not on so then you eventually just sit him. But on the nights he is play him with Derrick so he can space the floor, and quit having to appear like somebody from an old silent movie spastically running through all those screens like he's Charlie Chaplan being chased by the Keystone cops.

    5)Thibs quit looking like a busher, and sit the hell down. Phil Jackson, Adelman, Wilkins, Karl, Riley, Pop, none of these guys spend the majority/entirity of the game standing and yelling at their players. Let them learn on their own so they will win on their own as contenders/winners do i.e you Thibs are not a player.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Road,
    I very much agree with several of your points: Fewer minutes for Deng means more minutes for Brewer, and Korver playing alongside Rose, which leads to point number four, I love the Keystone Kops analogy - exactly!
    Yes indeed, Thibs, sit your ass down once in a while, and quit glaring at the players every time things don't go perfectly. You're 20-10, fer chrissakes...I'd like to think Thibs is gonna be our coach for the LONG TERM, but it's not gonna work if he's on the player's asses 24/7...

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    That offensive foul on Boozer was the most ridiculous call not involving Kobe Bryant that I've seen in the last 10 years. Why do the officials hate the Bulls so much?

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    I really don't understand these NBA refs. Bulls draw clear contact, nothing. It really has to take them out of their game. Rose has not been able to attack so far, best run was when he was on the bench.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    If I was the Bulls coach I think I would average a tech a game.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    actually I think I would get tossed every game.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    rose has no confidence offensively, is he hurt?

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Carried by the Dukies, guess its nice to win when Rose has an off game but I would like a blowout once in a while to rest some of the overused players and get JJ some minutes every now and then.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    This is what is known as a workmanlike win. Thoughts: Boozer can be unstoppable at times. Deng I think played with a lot of confidence and is really a pest on D with his herky-jerky moves and swinging his arms around.
    Thibs - Geez, switch to decaf!
    NBA Refs vs Derrick Rose...unbelievable, just unbelievable. He should have shot 20 free throws today.
    Still - grinding out a win. Plus, got a big kick out of listening to Noah do color commentary during the 3rd Q.

  • In reply to MadTown56:

    Oh yeah, one more thing...damn it Bogans, you couldn't hit that corner three if we got ten offensive boards in a row!!!

  • In reply to MadTown56:

    21-10...who would have predicted that?

    ...mmm

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Yes, but I am still waiting for the winning lottery numbers... lol

  • In reply to MadTown56:

    Switch to decaf...great line

  • What you see is what you get with Deng...not much you can say about that. I am done being frustrated with him...doesn't get me anywhere.

    Gotta win these games if they are going to take that next step...

  • One thing for me is Luol's really been dedicated/done a good job defensively IMO this season. I suspect his adding the three will emerge as a big plus in the playoffs if we can somehow get the offensive flow/chemistry/explosion rolling(with C.J., Ronnie, and Taj etc.) when Joakim gets back.

  • Where is everybody today? Maybe out stocking up on adult bevrages. Anyway, is New York turning into another D'Antoni savvy stockpile of offensive talent similar to his Phoenix days? Raymond Felton seems to have transformed into an all-star PG. I wonder how high/what seed the Knicks could possibly attain? That is if Amare stays healthy. Carmelo is probably begging for a sign and trade right now. Either way they might not be a team top seeds want to face come playoff time.

  • OFF TOPIC:

    Has anybody been keep track of how my friend, E'Twaun Moore, has been doing?

    12/31/10 vs. Northwesters

    - 31 points and 7 rebounds...that includes 7 3pt. shots made.

    * Check the replay on ESPN3

    FYI: John Paxson was scouting him AGAIN.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Bulls likely own the 2nd round pick from Phoenix, could be decent, they could grab Moore with that if not their low 1st rounder

  • LUOL DENG:

    I would like to see him put together TWO good games in a row.

    He should dominate the Nets today, if he plays AGGRESSIVELY.

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