Bulls vs Mavericks at 7pm on TNT

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.

Final thoughts

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. 

Comments

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  • I don't know, is going small and trying to run their older guys off the court an option? Play Rose/Watson/Brewer/Deng/Gibson together a lot? Might not work, after all the defense in the half court is good but not always so hot in transition, but I really don't see the Bulls scoring enough to win in a slow down game, so maybe you have to try it.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I think you could try that, of course, alternatively, you could hope Dallas is just off. Trying something more desperate sometimes back fires, but I agree, it's a way to try to force a matchup advantage.

  • With Noah and Booze out this will be a good test for the rest of the team. Maybe to make this contest a little more even the NBA should force Dirk to sit for 3 quarters...

  • In reply to MarkOlberding:

    Eh, I'm not high on it being a good test, without Noah and Boozer the Mavs are clearly better. Is it really a good test to play a team that's clearly better? If you lose did you really learn anything about the team?

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    yes. scoring without boozer is very difficult.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Wow.....DRose won that game for us tonight.

    Big game for Kurt THomas as well. Great win! Didnt expect this one.

  • In reply to MarkOlberding:

    Asik just can't get the ball to go in on two occasions...He has to slow down a little bit..

  • In reply to MarkOlberding:

    Uglying it up works, but we're going to run out of fouls in the third quarter at this rate.

  • In reply to MarkOlberding:

    Bulls playing pretty well all things considering. I'm happy with where they are.

    The fast break has been atrocious now, if they ran the break smoothly they'd have another 6 points in the first quarter.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Yeah running doesn't work if you can't even finish when you're 3 on 1.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Asik with the hesitation on the open dunk which then becomes a shot attempt where he's mobbed by two guys.

    Got to have confidence and go up strong right away, hesitating never helps.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Asik, blows another dunk by hesitating. At least his defense has been solid.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Said it in another game thread, he needs two simple rules: live with the screen being where you first set it and dunk the ball every time as soon as you catch it.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Asik has been awesome defensively, not sure I like bringing Thomas back right now.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    But he is missing a lot of open dunks to compensate for his good defense

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    It's not like anyone else was hitting shots either, meanwhile during that stretch he blocked or altered nearly every one of the Mavs shots which kept the game even.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Asik is having real tentative hands today....

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Asik and Brewer bringing the defensive hustle and finally some shots go down, up by 9 is a nice little buffer. Still a bit worried whether the Bulls can put enough points on the board in the second half to stay ahead though.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    BIG-MAN COACH:

    Omer Asik needs one. These pump-fakes under the basket need to stop.

    Somebody on the Bulls' coaching staff needs to tell him to CATCH AND DUNK!!!

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Agreed.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Deng doing a real nice job on Dirk but I'm sure some people will look at him shooting 3-9 and say he sucks.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Guys sucking on offense and playing well on defense is a common pattern for the Bulls tonight.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    2 observations

    1) Rick Carlisle looks like Jim Carrey

    2) Omer Asik needs to hit the weight room, and still looks like Judge Reinhold circa 1985

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    rofl on #2, quite right.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Ha! Funny. But can Asik rock the pirate outfit to get a smoking hot Phoebe Cates?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Bulls really struggling on offense.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    But within reach. As long as they can keep it around 4-6 points with 2 minutes left, they have a chance to pull it out.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Wow they're going Rose, Korver, Watsen, Brewer, and Gibson. Such a small lineup. They also went with Bogans, Rose, Gibson, Brewer, Deng, and Bogans. Not having our big guys is really hurting us.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Bulls really getting no benefit of the doubt on foul calls. Rose has taken a lot of contact with no call, but the Mavs have gotten quite a few touch fouls on their end.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    No doubt, Dirk is going to be on the line whether they get him the ball or not if they give him the foul every time he tries to establish position.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Like Rose getting inside, with his knee injury I'm starting to think the comparisons of Bargnani to Dirk are accurate (and that's not a compliment to Bargs).

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Yessss, Watson. Bulls needed that one.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Only caught the second half so I may be off but... no Boozer, no Noah, Rose looking pretty bad, Deng having a bad game, Korver getting 0 playing time and we are winning deep in the 4th quarter against one of the elite teams in the NBA.

    Can't wait to get back to full strength.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Thomas frustrating Chandler....He will be a big factor during playoff time against Howard, Shaq, Perkins(kind of guys Noah might have trouble)

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Agreed. If healthy and somewhat fresh, he'll be a big plus in the playoffs.

    Final score prediction: Bulls 83-79

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Kurt has really stepped up when we've needed him. Can't believe he wasn't even in the rotation before.

  • In reply to Dileg:

    Kurt has a lot of mileage on his legs, so quite sure Thibs thought it better to save him for later in the season. Coach also knew what he could bring when he did get some quality minutes. After all, Thibs had seen him in practice regularly.

  • In reply to Dileg:

    Quality win missing the front court, credit to the job they did on Dirk, and really the whole team's defense.

    Offensively it was a train wreck of course, offensive rebounding was the only thing that let the Bulls score even remotely competitively. Rose took over as he had to, so no complaints about his volume of shots even if he didn't shoot well. I do question whether he perhaps took a few too many jumpers, especially since even when he missed inside it seemed to be screwing up their positioning for rebounds.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I can't believe Kurt Thomas was a guy we were saying should be taken out the back and put out of his misery before Noah went down. He's really been huge in the 4th tonight.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    HUGE jumper by Rose. Keeps on building that case for MVP. And once we're full strength this team is just going to be that much better, especially getting guys like Thomas and Asik minutes, and now we know that they can play (especially Thomas, jeez, he's been doing a great job tonight).

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Huge jumper by Rose to put the bulls up by 3. And yeah, Thomas has been great tonight. This just makes me that much more confident come playoffs know that guys like him can step up when we need it.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I am not sure if Brewer did the right thing here. He could have just dunked and got the Bulls up by 5 pts with 10 sec to go..

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    dont like that play, brwer shoulda put that one away with a dunk. Wouldve been game, now the bulls can stil turn it over or miss their free throws

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    what the hell has Brewer been smoking? he should have dunked that ball instead of pulling it out again.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Brewer has to dunk that ball. Don't try to play too smart.

  • In reply to Dileg:

    No doubt, terrible play there.

  • In reply to Dileg:

    I think the play by Brewer is smart, burn some time and don't risk getting blocked and starting a break the other way. I remember in that Boston playoff series a couple of years ago when Kirk got a steal and missed a layup that nearly cost the game when he could have just dribbled out and got fouled.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Brewer can dunk, Kirk can't.... Yes I know he can but not in that situation.

  • In reply to Dileg:

    Even if you try to dunk it the guy coming behind can still block you. At least if you go to the line and you miss both your defense is going to be set, if you screw up on the break they break the other way.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    come on...Jason Terry was standing near the 3-point line. that was just poor recognition by Brewer. Dallas even had a foul to give. The Bulls had to burn 2 timeouts to get the ball inbounds. If Brewer dunks the ball, it's game over. This way the Mavs still had a chance to steal it.

  • In reply to Rincewind:

    If Brewer dunks the ball it's up 5 with 14 seconds left. That's not game over. As it turned out it was up 5 with 5 seconds left, which is a heck of a lot closer to game over.

    I think given the lack of clock usage even if the dunk is a higher percentage 2 points it's a lower percentage move for winning the game. I don't think it matters a huge deal, either way is still pretty high win %, but I certainly don't think Brewer did the wrong thing.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    And the key to the game: Bulls improve to 7-0 when Bogans makes at least two threes.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    If he can make a couple 3s consistantly....then i have no problem with him starting an playing his few minutes here an there. When he is off though.....ugh its terrible lol

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    That was crazy. No one other than Rose scored in double figures and they still win. That team defense ain't no joke.

    At some point, Rose is going to start drawing fouls, his shot selection will improve and his jumper will fall more. As good as he is now, he's going to be ridiculous. The only thing that will stop him from averaging 30 and 10 will be his unselfishness.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    CJ's 2 3 pointers were huge.
    Also it wasn't mentioned much, but last game against the Bobcats. the Bulls, CJ specifically got the ball back with 8 sec. left without fouling. The announcers and probably most of us were yelling "foul em, foul em", but the Bulls played tough D and CJ deflected a Charlotte pass off a Bobcat out of bounds.
    Without a lot of publicity, CJ has made some key plays. Tonight included.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Where are all the doubters that nitpick the Bulls to death (coming off a win of all things) ranging from Thibs is a moron, who couldn't coach a girls' junior high team, to Deng's value being less than Bennie the Bull's understudy?

    Don't pine for a Melo-dram tease who only has big apple lust. Root for the team...as is. Because that's what it's going to be this season. They may not be perfect, but they're legit.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    Amen

  • In reply to zentastic:

    CJ reminded me of BJ with those 3s.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Great win when the offense was bad. Shows the value of defense to keep the game close...imagine the same in most playoff games. The more close the games are against good teams; it's better... it helps Rose in figuring out how to react at end of games.

    Deng sucked on offense...need to see if it is the absence of Boozer or the minutes which is having an impact on him. He played great defense though..

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    It's almost certainly Boozer, he's played roughly the same minutes all season, but without Boozer he scores more at a worse percentage. Basically you ask him to do more and he's less efficient doing it, no real surprise.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    So the Bulls' M.O. is lose to bad teams and beat good teams, now?

    Kurt Thomas is the man.

  • In reply to Dileg:

    Great win tonight agains a good team, and without our big men.

  • In reply to Dileg:

    great memories...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooXrbfIJADw
    0:57

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    there was _no one_ near him. you think that Terry could have come from behind to block a dunk attempt? without fouling him?

  • In reply to Rincewind:

    He can still miss it, he may not have been sure who it was behind him, and it burnt several seconds from the clock which is really your best asset in the late game when ahead.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    He almost had nobody on him...and Brewer has better hops than Hinrich...

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    there was _no one_ there. he had an open lane for an open dunk.

  • In reply to Rincewind:

    sorry for the double posting, first one didn't go through initially

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Kurt Thomas is a llot better than deng

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    It looks like the loss of Boozer is making an impact on Deng's offense against good defensive teams or players..

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Exactly what I feared, just nobody who can make a shot, 9 points wasn't enough buffer for the inevitable.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Bulls losing the lead really quick in the 2nd half.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    The big problem for Bulls is those crazy 3s from way outside the arc they keep giving up... Jason Terry, Stevenson, Dirk can all do that.
    Even though it is a low percentage shot, they need to be aware of those during the end of quarters and in the last few minutes when they are playing so much interior defense

  • Bulls need to come out focused like the Memphis game and play good D and try not to get into a run and gun type of game with Dallas. Having the game at the UC and Dallas playing back to back games may help.

  • If theis dumb coach DONT play JJ some soon, I will really get on his case. The starters are showing signs of fatigue (short on shots, not covering the 3 , rebounding at critical times) , etc

    JJ can play man on d better than anybofy on this team.. Hes more physical than Deng, though Deng does a good job on less athletic bigs. Jj deserves to play --just by the shape he comes in and what he did early in the season.. Asik also needs to play more .. Somebody teach him a 4 ft hook or 4ft bank shot .. Not this coach .. Where is the teaching -- I dont see any improvement in that area for ASIK.. Thanks for nothing Thibs.. Your burning you starters and they will get hurt or loose to BAD teams like the last game. Take a seat you jerk of a coach and play JJ and Scalabine some. THey are your energy guys use them to energize your starters.

  • How funny and/or great is this?

    http://www.tnt.tv/pollXml_5minute/sports/nba/overtime10_pollH_results.jsp

  • This is kind of a litmus test game for the Bulls.
    1. They are on national TV
    2. They are getting a lot of publicity on their achievements
    3. There is some distractions with the Melo stuff
    4. They don't have their top 2 front court players
    5. Dallas won against Lakers and will be confident and Nowitzki might have got back into a groove after missing some games

    The good thing though is Dallas just played last night and got an emotional win against the Lakers while the Bulls were resting..

  • This game is a tough one to call. I think the Bulls will be motivated coming off a loss, will have good energy with a day's rest, and they're at home.

    But Rose, Deng, and Gibson all need solid games. At least 2 role players (of Watson, Brewer, or Korver) need to come up big and make plays, but it's a tight window even if they do. If they're stay within striking distance into the 4th quarter, they might have a decent chance.

  • Obviously I want Boozer & Noah back, but I enjoy this style of basketball. I just love the way in a slow, defense heavy game so much rides on every made shot, and being 5 points up or down can feel like a massive lead.

    That said I admit I am enjoying it rather more today than after the Bobcats game ... ;)

  • Well hopefully we get a chance to see that since the Cavs are up next, the Cavs couldn't defend an under 12 team right now.

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