Derrick Rose will look to avenge the game that got away. In their last meeting, the Clippers were thoroughly beating the Bulls until Rose led a furious charge at the end to draw the Bulls close. In the closing seconds, he drew a foul and went to the line down by two.
He missed the second free throw, and I doubt he's forgotten.
The game seemed like a let down, our first without Noah, and a loss to a sub par team. However, Blake Griffin was coming into his own, and the Clippers have been on a tear since that point. They were legit, we just didn't know it.
How will the Bulls do this time?
Keys to the game
Give Blake Griffin the Dwight Howard treatment
Single cover him in the post and let him do his thing, but don't let the rest of the team kill you. The Bulls really have no one to match up against Griffin anyway. Kurt Thomas can play him some to rough him up, but Griffin is likely going off tonight.
One strategy the Bulls can use is to go to Boozer early and often in the game hoping to draw some fouls on Griffin. If Boozer is in the post doing his spin, twist, and turn thing, he should be able to get Griffin in the air and then lean into him for the foul.
Get away with that move twice in the first, and you can send Griffin to the bench for most of the half. If Griffin plays Boozer too loosely defensively, then he should score at will. There's also the chance that Griffin just shuts down Boozer with stifling defense, but I don't think his development is such that it's likely.
Derrick Rose needs to make Baron Davis look old
Davis stands no chance at defending Rose off the dribble, so Rose should get into the paint plenty. The Clippers have DeAndre Jordan and Griffin down low to help which is a lot of athleticism, but Griffin blocks almost no shots and Jordan is foul prone. Rose should be able to get his shot off or get to the line pretty easily inside.
Slow down the Clippers and make them work in the half court
The Clippers main strength is their athleticism. They have a bunch of freak athletes on the team, especially in the front court with Griffin, Jordan, and Aminu coming off the bench. They're missing some of that with Eric Gordon out, but the Bulls are likely to win a battle of execution, so don't let the game get too fast or sloppy.
Cram the paint and zone the hell out of them
The Clippers lack outside shooting, especially without Gordon. So if the Bulls successfully slow down the pace to limit early offense and fast break opportunities, then they can jam the paint on defense and try to force the Clippers to hit shots from the outside.
They don't have a single quality shooter left in the lineup. As such, the Bulls can afford to make them work through a lot of coverage and play a zone most of the night with no one there to have a chance at breaking it.
The Clippers are a pretty exciting young team, and they're good. Even with Gordon out, they're playing well. However, the Bulls are a better team and are coming into the game with eyes open after the first loss. They're also well rested for the game having not played since Saturday, so they should be fresh.
On the flip side, the Bulls have struggled on the road so far this season at 10 and 10 and have recently lost to some fairly mediocre squads on the road (Charlotte, New Jersey, and Philly).
All that said, I think the Bulls will take this one. They're in for a tough fight for that second seed, and I think they're focused and ready to go.