The Dallas Mavericks will look to avenge their early season loss to the Chicago Bulls and should have a much easier go at it with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer out for the game (though Boozer was out for the first matchup as well).
The Bulls struggled to get anything going on offense against Charlotte last game while beating Memphis behind big games from Korver and Deng. While it's certainly possible that the role players step up again tonight, that has been the exception rather than the rule this season.
The Mavericks are dealing with some injury problems of their own as Caron Butler is likely out for the season, but they have Dirk back and enough depth that I'd make them heavy favorites tonight.
Keys to the Game
First, let me preface by saying I assume Boozer, who missed shootaround today with his injury will miss the game despite officially being questionable.
Derrick needs to show up big again
He played great against Charlotte, but he had no help. He'll need a similar effort with help for the Bulls to defeat the Mavericks. He can't do it alone, but if Rose has a poor game the Bulls have virtually no shot at winning, so they'll need him to play up to the moment.
Where else does the scoring come from?
After Rose, the Bulls need to find some scoring somewhere else. Luol Deng, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, and Taj Gibson are the likely suspects to have a shot at a big night. Deng has been the most consistent of the group, but he's prone to throwing up a poor night frequently.
Korver and Gibson have largely been slumping outside of a few moments here and there while C.J. Watson hasn't really gotten it going much this season except for the single game Rose missed.
I'd look to unleash C.J. Watson and let him play more freely and create his own shot. If he has the green light he might provide the secondary offensive burst that we need, something which no one else is really doing right now.
The team defense needs to keep it up
The Bulls have played outstanding defense the past few games, even in the loss against Charlotte they held the Bobcats to a fairly miserable game offensively, but were simply more miserable themselves.
They'll need a big defensive effort and have to capitalize on transition opportunities in order to help pad the offensive numbers, because the half court game is likely to struggle even against Dallas's lackluster defense.
The Bulls have surprised me many times this season [both good and bad], and if they win this one it will count as another happy surprise.