They're not booing, they're cheering "BOOOZ!, or so Carlos Boozer quipped when asked about negative reaction from fans.
While the headlines all focus on Boozer, Korver, and Brewer's return to Utah, the real story is Derrick Rose vs Deron Williams and whether the Bulls can get their game together on the road to stop this trip from becoming an unmitigated disaster.
The Bulls have lost a couple games in a row to teams playing at a hectic pace, including the second slowest team in the NBA, the Portland Trailblazers, killing them in transition all game long.
If I'm Jerry Sloan, I'm attacking the hell out of this team. The only question is how the Bulls will respond.
Keys to the game
Carlos Boozer better get his crap together on defense
In a scary quote from last game, Carlos Boozer noted that he wasn't sure what the problem was with the team defense, but the team needed to figure it out. Let me clue you in, the biggest problem is you.
This is one of those situations in life, where everyone knows a weirdo, and if you don't, it means you're the weirdo. Apparently Carlos Boozer hasn't figured out that the reason we're getting killed is because he soft hedges every screen without really pressing the ball handler, doesn't come five feet from the basket to defend his own man, and never gets back in transition to make a defensive play.
The Bulls defense has a myriad of problems, but the biggest one is working around Carlos Boozer's deficiencies. Some of those can't really be fixed, the guy is never going to be a speed demon or have the ability to do all the things we'd love to see him do on defense. He's basically short and slow for his position which is a dangerous combination defensively (believe me I know).
However, he can put forth a whole heck of a lot more effort into actually defending rather than turning his back on offensive players and searching for potential rebounds rather than contesting shots, and attempting to sprint down the floor in transition to make a play would be nice as well as not letting his man shoot open shots if he's 12 feet from the hoop, because Paul Millsap will have a field day with that.
We know the Jazz are going to pick and roll the Bulls 100 times in this game, so let's make sure we're ready for it.
Who's the best PG in the NBA?
There's certainly some debate about it, but there's a good chance you're watching him tonight and the outcome of this game will add to one of their resume's. Does Derrick Rose take it as a personal challenge to defeat his rivals?
We've seen him look to absolutely murder Rondo recently, does he take the same attitude in against Deron Williams? I think so. I think Rose looks to have a big game and make an impact early.
Stop playing sloppy and don't be afraid to slow it down
The Bulls really struggled with sloppiness against both the Warriors and Trailblazers. It doesn't always equate to turnovers, but in rushing to get something in transition the Bulls lost a lot of possessions through missed shots at the hoop that ended up much tougher than they seemed or turning the ball over.
That often led to easy points for the other team. Look, with Derrick Rose we should be a fast break team, but with Bogans, Deng, Boozer, and Thomas in the lineup we aren't. Those guys are all slow for their position and there isn't an athletic finisher in the group (Deng is the closest). I want to unleash Rose on the break, but realistically we need a more athletic group out there to do it, so take the break when it's there, but don't force it.
Use a myriad of looks offensively to help free Rose up
The Bulls need to mix up Rose's involvement in the offense at times to help free up the coverage and provide different looks to the offense. Right now, teams are always trapping him hard off of the pick and roll, and the Bulls have often seemed to not have a great answer for that.
The Bulls should run some more isolations and off the ball plays for Rose in order to make the trap more difficult as well as getting some good looks with him as a decoy. The pick and roll is playing right into the defenses hands right now as it brings the trap onto Rose.
The Bulls obviously don't want to abandon the pick and roll, but mixing in a few more plays where Derrick gets the ball in a different set might and using some fake pick and rolls with early basket cuts might help soften the trap a bit and put the defense on its heals.
The Jazz haven't played that well lately. They have won four of their last seven which is still mediocre for a good team, but lost six in a row prior to that, and they aren't losing to great competition either. However, the Bulls are in danger of falling into the same type of trap.
The Bulls aren't playing real well and seem to have lost their defensive identity. The Warriors and Blazers put out a blue print on how to beat this team right now, and the Bulls will need to adjust to make sure it doesn't happen.
While I don't feel confident about this game because the Jazz are at home and are still a good team, I do think that Thibodeau is the type of coach that will have the team prepared and ready to go after a couple of losses. I can go either way, but I'll take the glass half full approach and predict the W.