The Bulls convincingly beat the Blazers early on in the season in Chicago. However, as we've seen with Chicago's 11-11 road record, they're not the same team on the road as they are at home. Of course, the Blazers won't have Brandon Roy and the Bulls will be without Joakim Noah neither of which were all that effective in the first game anyway.
The Bulls will get Carlos Boozer back and will have to find an answer for LaMarcus Aldridge who single handedly kept the Blazers hanging around with 33 points on just 19 shots plus 9 free throw attempts with no turnovers. A repeat performance by Aldridge could spell trouble for Chicago.
Keys to the game
Put Thomas on Aldridge
Boozer's hasn't shown an affinity for getting out on jump shooting PFs, and his post defense isn't nearly as physical as Thomas's. Aldridge has been playing great, but he's a Bosh-like big man who doesn't really want to be roughed up in the post. Playing Thomas on him is likely to keep his game on the perimeter firing away jumpers.
When the Blazers go bigger, Boozer can play Przybilla where he'll really just need to worry about getting the rebound and not have to make too much effort on defense. Dante Cunningham isn't really a threat to shoot away from the basket to drag Boozer out either.
Run Derrick Rose isolations when you're in trouble
The Blazers have some pretty athletic wing players to trap Rose in a similar fashion to Golden State, but the achilles heal of that group is Miller at PG. While Batum and Matthews can handle the job at SG / SF to create athletic traps, Miller doesn't have the ability to stick with Rose at all to do his part.
In order to defeat the speedy guard trap, have Rose start up high in isolation. If they go with a trap right away, finding the open man should be much easier at this point as the floor is already spread out, rather than having a player moving away from the action on the pick. Rose will also have time to run away from the trap as the trapper will have to come from a greater distance rather than being in the area.
The Bulls can't run isolations all night long, it puts too much pressure on Rose and it lowers the involvement of the other players too much, but when they get in trouble going to a Rose iso should yield a high percentage shot.
Stay focused on defense
The Blazers typically score from all positions on the floor, except perhaps center, so the Bulls need to be judicious in their double teams and traps. The Blazers can hurt them by making the right passes and allowing everyone to get shots up.
The Bulls individually need to focus on their responsibilities to make sure the defensive scheme doesn't break down.
Attack the offensive glass
The Blazers are one one of the slowest teams in the league offensively. They aren't likely to punish the Bulls by pushing the ball hard, so have players go in and attack the glass knowing the MO of the Blazers is to walk the ball up the court anyway. That can give the Bulls a few extra possessions offensively that they wouldn't normally get and isn't likely to cause much downside defensively.
I like the Bulls in this game, the Blazers are a slow down team, and the Bulls are a great fundamental defense. I think it's difficult to operate in the half court against Chicago, and the Blazers want to operate in the half court. As such, you've got two mediocre offenses and one elite defense. I like the odds of the team with the elite defense and that's Chicago.
Random side note .... Anyone else think it should be a rule that all west coast games should start no later than 7pm Pacific time so that they're far more watchable for East Coast fans? Man do I hate 9:30 starts. Thank you Portland for blessing us with a 9pm instead.