Chicago Bulls vs Orlando Magic 7pm on CSN - Boozer to play!

The big question for the night is whether or not this will be the debut of Carlos Boozer for the Bulls.   Tom Thibodeau seems to think so after yesterday's practice:

"He looked good, said he didn't have any problems," Thibodeau
said. "His conditioning is really good and he did a good job in
practice. ... I can't foresee any problems at this point. As long as
he's comfortable, we're ready to get started."

If Boozer does return, the Bulls will face the challenge of integrating a significant new offensive piece against one of the premier defensive teams in the league.  However, Boozer's a piece that would help considerably against the Magic.

UPDATE - Boozer is playing tonight

Let's face it, he's likely to beast Rashard Lewis who wants no part of inside play, and had a big size advantage against Brandon Bass.   He'd take Dwight Howard outside if Howard were to try and contain him and even if he doesn't rein jumpers down on Howard from the perimeter the value of pulling him out of the paint would be immense.

The only question would be whether Boozer has learned enough from watching and two practices to find a flow with the rest of the team offensively and defensively, but this isn't rocket science.   Boozer's been playing basketball with an elite PG for a long time.  He knows how to run a pick and roll, he knows how to score in isolation.  

Is this a statement game for the Bulls?   In some ways yes, in some ways no.   They've been getting a lot of love lately, far more than their record warrants, for their high level of play.   However, now they have to go up against their competition in the East.   I'd view it as a statement game, but if Boozer doesn't play, there's the fall back excuse of "what if he did" and if he does play then there's the fall back excuse of "they need time to build chemistry".   In that sense, there's straight forward rationalizations for a loss either way, not that the players would buy into either or use them.

Keys to the game

Help on Howard and foul early, foul often
I don't often advocate double team a premier player constantly, nor do I often advocate fouling the hell out of someone.   However against Howard, I advocate both.  The Magic can kill you from the perimeter, but I'd at least make them try.   Joakim Noah is one of the most valuable defenders in the league, but he's valuable for his ability to defend a pick and roll and play a PG on a switch not for his ability to stuff Dwight Howard one on one.

It takes a village to raise a child, and it will take a team to slow down Dwight Howard.   My strategy would be this:
1: Double team from a position that does not allow him to pass out to the strong side with an immediate repost.   This means the double team has to come from the weakside or the center.   The goal is to force him to make a difficult pass after trapping him.

2: Foul him hard on the arms, so that he's not getting shots up when you foul him.   The goal with the foul is to make him split a pair from the line, and once beaten take the hard foul on the arms and don't let him fight up a shot (easier said than done).

Thibodeau's done an outstanding job of designing defenses to stop a one man show though, so I think he'll have something special in store for Dwight.

Run out on the corners 
Stan Van Gundy once gave a long speech about how the long two pointer is the worst shot in basketball.  It's inefficient and not that easy.   That there is a whole school of media people who decry the loss of the mid range game.   Whether you agree with him or not, you can be sure the Magic won't be shooting long twos.

Stan also knows the key to great three point shooting is to get your threes from the corner, they're shorter and easier, and if you have a player defending that shot he's covering less of the rest of the court.    As such, the Magic are going to look to get the ball in to Howard and find threes from the corners, so be prepared to run out at the corners and stop them in their tracks.

Almost everyone on the floor outside of Howard can shoot threes for the Magic, so you have to honor everyone.   Even guys with low shooting percentages this year from the three point line are typically solid.   If I'm going to let one guy shoot threes on me it's probably Jameer Nelson though.

Drive into Howard not away from him
Both times Rose got hurt against Howard he was trying to avoid him.   Instead, force contact on him and put him in foul trouble.   Derrick is starting to get the calls, and if he gets bumped going into him, he's not as likely to end up on his back as when he gets bumped while fading away and already tilting backwards.

Howard's a great player, but he's a guy who tends to get in foul trouble because he contests so many players.   Don't be afraid of him, because going at him consistently is likely to get him off the floor.

Play smart basketball
Sure, it's the captain obvious statement of the year.   Sure it applies to every game.   However, you want to beat elite teams, take care of the basketball, rebound the basketball.   The Magic are an efficient offensive and defensive team.   You can't afford to give them extra opportunities.

Final thoughts
I hope we get to see Boozer play, and I hope the integration process moves on quickly.   I'd say the Bulls are probably slight underdogs in the game, but they certainly have every chance in the world to win.

Side note, for anyone loving it live tonight, it's Joakim Noah bobble head night.  If you want one of these bobbleheads, you NEED to get to the game when the gates open at 5:30.   They may say they give out 10,000 or whatever, but in reality, 6-7000 are already mailed to season ticket holders, there will be very few available, and they'll likely be gone in about 5-10 minutes after the gates open.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

Comments

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  • ATTACKING THE FRONT OF THE RIM:

    This is EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

    Drive into Howard not away from him
    Both times Rose got hurt against Howard he was trying to avoid him. Instead, force contact on him and put him in foul trouble. Derrick is starting to get the calls, and if he gets bumped going into him, he's not as likely to end up on his back as when he gets bumped while fading away and already tilting backwards.

    * Derrick Rose can't allow Dwight Howard to SLIDE OVER and BODY CHECK him.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    its harder to attack the front of the rim with authority when your hands can't palm the ball, but he does need to try to do that against Howard, and the Bulls supporting cast needs to send Howard a message early, & if he provides another cowardly act, they need to retaliate.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    about long 2s & those who decry the loss of the mid range game: A mid range shot is not a long 2. A long 2 is a college 3 pointer, a mid range is 13-20 feet, and is usually very accurate if the right players are shooting it

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I'd make JJ Redick beat me form 3 too, starting to come arounsd but not great, I think on the road he could struggle, esp in a close game

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    playing smart basketball is a great point, when the Bulls play with constant focus they win

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Doug, I live in Florida, coming home for Christmas & I am going to take my nephew to the 76ers game on the 21st, what time do the gates open? Is it 2 hours before the game, or 1 1/2?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Believe it is 5:30 (1 1/2). I will be at that game as well, where are your seats?

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    Haven't bought them yet, but will get lower bowl seats, somewhere in section 101, 122, 111,or 112. Debating b/t StubHub & buying from a scalper, I usually buy from scalpers.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    anyone know where to get the best prices from the sections I listed?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I have been buying/ selling tickets on Craigslist this year. Prices have been great so far.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    HECK ya!!!! Lets get this done tonight! Keep Howard out of the paint!!!!!!! make him shoot jumpers or hooks! NO DUNKS! LUOL DENG...when you foul....HACK SOMEBODY!!!! Lets do this Bulls!

  • In reply to Csharp:

    I like the excitement!!!

    Hack-a-Howard :)

  • In reply to Csharp:

    Doug,
    Bookies have us as a slight favorite to win.
    $10 bet on Magic pays $21 and
    $10 bet on Bulls pays $18
    http://www.oddschecker.com/basketball/nba
    (this gives you odds for all games)
    I hate betting but this gives me an idea what to expect.

  • In reply to adocarbog:

    Ok, but bookies also make their odds based on wanting an equal amount of people to bet on both teams. Thats how they make their $$$. If the Bulls are slight favorites it doesnt actually mean they are slight favorites. The odds makers will put out there what they need to in order to get the masses to bet the way that they want/need.

  • In reply to adocarbog:

    Anyway, despite all of that garblie-gook, I think the Bulls have a great chance at taking this game. I like all of Doug's points but would like to add a couple things that I think will be important. One is OUR outside game. We know Orlando has shooters, but what about ours? KK especially needs to knock them down. He has been pretty bad 2 of last weeks games. He is making $5 mil to hit shots, and needs to do just that tonight. The same thing from Bogans. It feels like forever and a day since he hit an open shot.

    The other thing Im hoping for is that Boozer doesnt try to do too much. He is our post player who is supposed to be able to settle the game down if needed. I am hoping to see him play a fluid, effective game. Not force shots/passes just to try to show he is back.

  • In reply to Csharp:

    I think the best thing is force them to have Dwight Howard beat us by himself and shut down those shooters. Keep in mind the Magic do have lots of good shooters and are not afraid so I will shut them down all game long and force Dwight try to beat the Bulls by himself.

    I think that is the best way to do it, and possible a stronger chance to beat Orlando.

  • In reply to Csharp:

    I think the best thing is make Dwight Howard beat us by himself, and shut down those shooters out. Keep in mind the Magic do have good shooters and not afraid to shoot so it is better to force one man(Dwight.) try to beat us.

    Shut the shooters down all game long, I think that will give a better chance for the Bulls to pull off a win against Orlando.

  • In reply to Csharp:

    Doug,
    Bookies have us as a slight favorite to win.
    $10 bet on Magic pays $21 and
    $10 bet on Bulls pays $18
    http://www.oddschecker.com/basketball/nba
    (this gives you odds for all games)
    I hate betting but this gives me an idea what to expect.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Here are a couple links I found while looking for some other tickets. I found them in only a couple minutes, I'm sure there are plenty of others.

    http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/tix/2086612018.html

    http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/tix/2089860371.html

    http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/tix/2089086748.html

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I tried to post a couple links to craigslist for you that I found, but it says it is being held for review. Just go there and run a search, I bought tickets for the Philly game from there today too.

    Shouldn't be much of a contest the way they are playing but will be fun anyway!!

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    could be a contest if they play the way there are tonight :(

    Thanks for the help brother!

  • Carlos is gonna play. That, coupled with the Bulls return to the UC is going to give them a huge motivational lift. The Magic are coming off a back to back in Detroit where the had to work deep into the 4th quarter, playing Howard 40 minutes to get the win. This game will have a playoff like atmosphere & could get a bit chippy with Howard's recent history of attacking Rose with aparent malicious intent. Bulls win.

  • We are favored by 2 for betting odds! Those guys must know something about boozer coming back. haha jk

    But I was surprised that we are favored.

  • BENCH SCORING and FRESH LEGS:

    The Bulls' bench (Watson, Korver and Brewer) needs to play well.

    This is the second half of a road back-to-back for the Magic, therefore the Bulls need to ATTACK these guys with their FRESH AND RESTED LEGS and perhaps they can wear the Magic down come the 4th Quarter.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    yep, coming off 3 days rest while your opponent is on the road & coming off a back 2 back? That's considered a scheduling win against all but the elite teams like the Magic, but even against them its a 5-10 point advantage.

  • Statistically we haven't been bad defending the 3, but it doesn't seem to pass the eye test. So yeah, I worry about that too in this game. Absolutely have to put the energy into D tonight and rotate, recover, & help quickly.

    It seems like every team we have been playing lately has multiple good-great 3pt shooters

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Teams hitting threes against you burns so everyone always says their team is bad at defending threes. I'm going to go with the stats on this one.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    good point, its kind of a psychological illusion....but I know when we bring the heat we shut down the 3pt shot almost completely

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Well it sounds like Boozer is going to play. I am really looking forward to seeing us at full strength. I know it will take a week or two IMO to really click, but this team is already playing better than I expected. Before Oct 2nd I picked the Bulls to be 8-7 at the end of Novemeber, and that was before Boozer went down.

    I'm never "happy" a player is hurt or can't play, but there is a part of me that wonders if Rose would still have been so aggressive if Boozer was never out. Part of me thinks he saw that the team's success fell squarely on him and he delivered in a big way.

    Now that Boozer is back and Rose & Noah are already playing All-star level ball, this should be tons o fun!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    The best way to defend Howard has always been to get him in foul trouble. SVG knows he can't afford Howard to be fouled out at the end so you put a couple of fouls on him quickly and his minutes are going to suffer. Keep him to 30 minutes and you have to like the Bulls chances a lot.

  • Definitely, i am also very interested to see Omer play for a while tonight. he continues to impress and there is no better barometer, than Howard, when it comes to seeing how he is developing

  • Good news that Booz is playing, hopefully his debut will be a win. And not to put a dampen on anyone but don't be surprised if the Bulls do lose this one cause when most teams come off of long road trips, they usually have a bad game at home cause the players are too comfortable being back home.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I'm not feeling too good about this one especially with Boozer making his debut and everyone being pumped that he is returning and expecting a win. NOT A GOOD FEELING AT ALL...

  • In reply to Reese1:

    wow, good call Reese

  • In reply to Reese1:

    James Johnson really is the impossible situation superstar.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I take that back after he misses a dunk.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    GO bulls, way to come back home

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I said earlier coming back from a long road trip for the home team usually doesn't go well, too comfortable and no focus.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Whoops... they announced Deng as Boozer and vice versa.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Not too unhappy with that, they hit some tough shots, keep working like that and eventually they'll miss and we can go on a run.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    anybody got a link to the game

  • In reply to Reese1:

    How come so many terrible calls go against the Bulls, even at home?

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Another big deficit to try and overcome.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Bulls first half scoring efficiency has stunk in almost every game this year.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    The Bulls just never do well against the Magic.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Looks like that preseason game wasn't a fluke after all, hope the Bulls prove me wrong.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    SHOOTING GUARDS
    Bogans, Korver, Brewer - TOTAL 3 points.
    Carter, Pietrus - TOTAL 25 points.

    Bulls always seem slow and unathletic against Orlando. Orlando has many good-sized and very athletic wings and Bulls always seem outclassed.

    Also, the free throw disparity is ridiculous 3-7 vs. 17-17. But credit Orlando for making theirs!

  • In reply to Edward:

    Edward,

    The Bulls have a lack of scoring at the SG position. Who knew?

    ...mmm.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    There is no way in hell we're coming back now. We just don't have what it takes to beat this Orlando team.

  • In reply to Vedo:

    That's not a good attitude to have but you're probably right.

  • In reply to Vedo:

    This game is similar to the Knicks game, Magic scoring too much from the perimeter. Bulls should go to man to man defense, take a chance and let Howard get his points.

  • In reply to Vedo:

    Its about time Rose decided to drive at Howard. He has looked scared to go in there after last year

  • In reply to Vedo:

    Howard 4-10 with no free throws, we've done a decent job of the main objective, everything else has just sucked.

  • In reply to Vedo:

    Boozer is tentative around the basket too... but rightfully so

  • In reply to Vedo:

    rose is still getting all the way to Howard and continues to pass. Not the same Rose as the past month

  • I see what your saying, Howard preoccupying Noah so far, no help D from Noah in the 1st half, no rebounding either.

  • we are letting them shoot at will

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    8-14 now...

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    Why do we always look like the JV team when we play Orlando?

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    Too many good shooters for the Magic and bad defense from the Bulls. Bulls need to play man to man defense.

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    has anyone else noticed CJ has incredibly hard time finishing a layup with his left? I saw him botch 2 of them in the same pre-season game this year and figured it was a fluke. But this is the 3rd or 4th one i've seen now. Crazy.

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    I said earlier that coming from a long road trip usually doesn't go well for the home team the first game back, too comfortable and no focus.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I've heard all types of theories as to why this happens, some people saying its an old wives teld, I like your explanation

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    It's because Bulls are athletically outclassed by Orlando. Orlando is quicker and stronger throughout the roster.

    The only Bulls that possess that type of sheer athletic talent are D-Rose and James Johnson.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I think you are wrong on that one buddy, just a bad match up for the Bulls

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Yes, Orlando is a bad matchup for the Bulls, because Orlando is is athletically superior throughout nearly the entire the roster.

  • In reply to Edward:

    PLEASE all they have is good shooters which if played good defense against would lose, just ask the Celtics how to beat the Magic.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I think Thibs knows how the Celtics beat the Magic, he was there, remember?

    Celtics had the muscle to rotate 3 big bodies (Perkins, Wallace, Davis) to get physical with Howard without double teaming - and then played the other 4 Magic straightup.

    Note the rebounding disparity. Bulls don't have that interior muscle (not a single Bulls player can body up Howard on single coverage). So Bulls instead helped on Howard and tried to runout to Magic shooters which won't work against the NBA's best best 3pt team.

    Also, Bulls don't have the shooters Celtics have so when relying on jump shots while Howard is in the game, Bulls have trouble scoring. See the points in the paint stat 46-26, Bulls don't go in the paint against Howard. And Brandon Bass is a tough inside presence as well, stronger than any Bulls player.

    Additionally, Orlando's wings athletically outclass Bulls wings: Bogans, Deng, Korver are all less than impressive athletically. Carter often has big games against Bulls wings, he looks like the all-star he used to be.

    We obviously disagree.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Leave a comment...

  • In reply to Edward:

    i am so disappointed we awarded ourselves with or division before the season started and indiana is looking better than us alot better

  • In reply to Edward:

    QUESTION:

    How's that #1 Seed looking? The Bulls really COMPETED tonight.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    What a surprise, MrHappy is indeed happy when the Bulls get blown out because it lets him try to troll teh internets.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Shakes,

    Where's my happiness? GET A CLUE.

    Unlike Doug Thonus and his CLUELESS BAND OF FOLLOWERS, I'm REALISTIC.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    So you expect us to believe that your posting gloating barbs when the final buzzer has barely finished sounding isn't schadenfreude?

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    UNDER-THE-WEATHER:

    Melo may have the flu, but Thibs has a case of VDN-itis.

    Just like Vinny, Thibs FAILED to prepare his team vs. Orlando.

    * This loss looks similar to the December home loss that happened vs. Orlando when VDN was a rookie coach. PATHETIC!!!

  • In reply to Edward:

    Wow, only 21 rebounds for the game. Supposedly our biggest strength was our downfall.

  • In reply to Edward:

    A 31 point deficit at home... inexcusable!!!

  • In reply to Edward:

    Barkley had better take that statement back about the Bulls being in the finals...

  • In reply to Edward:

    I did not catch the game but I hope the bulls got booed off the floor because these are the same losses they've been having against top tier teams for the last 5 years, the ones that show that this team is no better than the atlanta hawks (if that). Bulls gotta compete

  • In reply to Edward:

    Happy seriously stfu you're not even a real bulls fan

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Utah,

    You STFU.

    I'm the ONLY REAL(istic) BULLS' fan on here.

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    for the record, Im not mr happy, the structure of my comments bears no resemblence to his

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    ixon,

    You'd be better off aligning yourself with me.

    I'm the REALISTIC one on here.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    At least we learned this week that the 96 bulls record still looks pretty much unbreakable, the two pretenders (miami and la) are both already more than halfway to 10 losses.

  • Even when we play tight D and force them into a crap shot at the end of the 24 second clock.... we give up another rebound

  • I don't understand the Bulls 3pt defense. They leave shooters wide open with no defender in the same zipcode, then runout to the shooter AFTER he has received a pass and is in his shooting motion. IT'S TERRIBLE DEFENSE.

  • and we are vastly being outworked on the boards

  • Well yes, three point defense, rebounding and offense qualify as "everything else".

  • Assuming Noah is shut down for the night, this is the first time he's played more than 7 minutes in a game and not gotten a rebound.

  • Ike,

    What happened?

    #1.) Their isn't enough TALENT on this Bulls' roster.
    #2.) Thibs can't MOTIVATE his players apparently.
    #3.) The Magic OWN the Bulls.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    i think the coach is fine, bulls look to still be a player away from top tier talent level. But all of us already knew that didnt we, i dont know if anybody expects a championship this year... An the magic do own the bulls for some reason, i dont think theyre that good

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    ixon,

    This team is yet to play a 48 min. game.

    Is that on the Coach or Players?

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Since the coach harps on and on and on about that? I'm going with the players

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Funny, I thought they'd played 14 48 minute games, a 53 minute game and a 58 minute game.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    JUST SAYING:

    Melo has a winning record vs. the Howard led Magic, while scoring 28 ppg.

    Deng, on the other hand, has a losing record vs. the Howard led Magic, scoring just 15 per.

    Was it me or did Luol Deng disappear again tonight?

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    JUST ASKING:

    Can you find even one instance of a regular poster on this blog claiming Deng is better than Anthony?

  • Because it's my defense strategy against the horrible score line. :p

  • This is one where you just throw the film away & go practice form Boston Friday

  • Derrick lost some aggression tonight. He needs to realize that he needs to attack, esp early. Can't change your game just because Booze comes back, Carlos will figure out a way to play off you Rose, not vice versa. STAY AGGRESSIVE

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