What is it with the Nets?
They always seem to beat the Bulls a disproportionate amount of times even when the Bulls are favored. Given that history, and the fact that Chicago lost in New Jersey once already, I doubt the Bulls are taking this game lightly.
However, the battle will be even tougher than the last game we lost to them due to the trade sending Deron Williams to New Jersey. Last game, New Jersey exploited Carlos Boozer's defense for most of the night getting all kinds of ally oops and easy shots as Carlos was slow in transition defense and didn't bother to defend his man when he was more than 5 feet away from the hoop.
That won't happen again, because Carlos has played much better on defense since, and well, he's not playing in the game. Joakim Noah will return from flu like symptoms to play tonight though which should give the Bulls front court some added depth.
New Jersey has been on fire lately, so despite their record, they're playing like a team that could win 45-50 games right now after acquiring Deron Williams and having a little time to gel. They did us a big favor by knocking off the Celtics, let's just make sure they don't even the score tonight.
Keys to the game
Derrick Rose loves to beat up on 'elite' PGs
This season, Derrick has really made it a priority to take it to all the best PGs in the league. He simply crushed Deron Williams the last time the two matched up in Utah. The Bulls will hope for a similar result tonight, but great players have plenty of price and Deron Williams will be out looking for revenge.
Derrick has the speed and burst to hurt Deron off the dribble and will need to make sure to stay up on him when he's beyond the three point line to not allow any easy threes. Derrick has really fallen in love with the three point shot lately, so I hope he's careful not to settle in this game.
Control the paint
It was a completely different cast of characters last game with Favors and Boozer in, but the Nets did a lot of damage on the inside, especially in transition and on ally oops. The Bulls will need to do a much better job of controlling the glass, getting back on defense and not allowing easy baskets in the painted area [channeled Hubie Brown for that one].
With Noah in and Boozer out, the Bulls won't get as much interior offense, but their interior defense should be vastly improved.
Don't let this kid get excited
Look, you can't stop mojo like that.
Hope for hot shooting, but don't rely on the three so much
I'm not sure I want to see 32 three point attempts in a game again any time soon, but I do like the Bulls shooting 38% from the three point line as a team. If Keith Bogans can fill it in like he did against Washington the Bulls are virtually unstoppable.
That said, the Bulls need to be cautious about throwing up so many threes. Derrick Rose in particular has developed a habit of taking some off the dribble threes early in the shot clock rather than driving. Granted, the man can't drive every play, and he needs some shots that aren't much work, but if you need a breather work the ball around the court, don't just launch a three.
Maybe it's irrational, but I fear the Nets in this game. The Bulls have struggled all season long on the road, the Nets have often won games they shouldn't against Chicago, and they're playing at a very high level recently.
While the Bulls are still the favorites IMO, this game has upset city written all over it if the team doesn't come out with great energy and effort.