Limping Bulls host Hawks at 7pm on CSN

So the Chicago Bulls are going to be missing Carlos Boozer after he sprained his ankle due to Kwame Brown's flagrant foul at the end of the Hornets game.   Fortunately, Boozer won't be gone for too long based on present reports (where he's listed day to day).  

Unfortunately for Chicago, Luol Deng is also questionable for tonight's game with a quad injury from taking a Gerald Henderson knee in the same game.   My guess is that Deng will go, but we'll have to wait and see. 

Keys to the game

Derrick needs to be special tonight

With the injury situation the Bulls are facing, whether they're missing just Boozer or both Boozer and Deng, the Bulls will need Derrick Rose to bring his A game.   The Bulls don't have a lot of offensive options, and they'll be missing one without Boozer.

Expect Atlanta to create the Rose wall, and Rose will have one to two less options to pass to when they do.  

Kyle Korver needs another nice shooting night

Without having some of your better offensive options, the Bulls will role players to hit their open shots.   Korver knocking down some threes would probably make the largest difference for the team, because when he has it going, he can really help light up the scoreboard.

Defend, defend, defend

The one advantage of not having Carlos Boozer is that the Bulls defense should be much stronger on the inside.  Taj Gibson gives the Bulls vastly more help defense than Boozer and still is able to finish on cuts to the basket.   He's not going to take the contested jumper that Boozer does, but he'll knock down the open 17 footer.   Look for Gibson to make a big impact given that he typically plays much better with a larger guaranteed role.

Energy and focus

The Bulls can come out flat, but with the injuries on this team, they're going to need to play at a high energy level with great focus for a full 48 minutes.   After blowing a 19 point lead last game against the Hawks, I expect there to be a sense of urgency in the game.

Final thoughts

Tough game for the Bulls with the injuries, but I'm never betting against them in Chicago.

Comments

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  • Continuing from your last column... if Lu can't go tonight, who starts at SF? I presume KK Or Brewer... And back-up? Three guard rotation? Or, MAYBE, Taj some at SF so as to bring two of Jo, Omer and El Big Sexo on at the same time. I should know better than to expect weird rotations from Tibs, but wtf, should be fun. Besides, SOMEONE is going to have to help Jo with Al Horford! Bulls should be well motivated after the last game against the Hawks...

  • JoNo definitely needs to step up this evening after the way Horford massively out-preformed him last game.
    I think he is getting his rhthym back and therefore expect to see him more of a threat on offence with Booz out.
    In some ways Booz being out will help as Taj on Josh Smith is a lot more preferable than Booz trying to defend such an agile 4.

    The winning or losing of this game I believe will be how JoNO plays on the offensive end when Derrick is double teamed. If JoNo can utilise the ball well from the high post (driving lay-up or drive and pass to the cutter/spot-up shooter) when Derrick is doubled and not just be passive and give the ball back to Derrick, then it will make the Hawks have to play Derrick straight up and then we will win.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    I agree if Joakim can get his offensive presence going just as you stated it sooner(this game) rather then later then it will bring back a much needed dimension to the too often high 80's/low 90's Bulls offense.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Ya i think Taj will do just fine, Defensively he will do much better then Boozer will against Josh Smith imo. Maybe we see Butler tonight. D Rose needs to have a big game....Bulls need to keep winning an hopefully Deng plays tonight.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Kurt Thomas is starting at PF and Butler is active...

    http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2011/03/thibodeau-thomas-will-start-for-boozer-tonight.html

  • In reply to walrus:

    Didn't see that coming. But it does keep the 2nd unit intact so lets hope thats where we will have the advantage.

    6ers doing us a favour; some gd offensive sets as well so would prefer to avoid them in the first round!

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    It's sort of been his MO this season...keep the rotations in tact. If Deng plays, it'll be business as usual...almost. I'm interested to see what Thibs does if Deng can't go.

  • In reply to walrus:

    Technically Noah is starting at PF, Big Sexy was announced as the C.

    Great to see Big Sexy out there again.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    That makes sense, I think Thomas can match up well defensively with the undersized Horford. Noah can cover just about anybody except Dwight Howard, so you can almost put him anywhere.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Looks like we're going to try and grind this one out.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Boozer out and Rose in foul trouble, just as well Deng doesn't seem to be affected by his injury.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Ugly start on offense, but defense is playing pretty well. Second unit looks really good again.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    7-0 run on 2 plays...

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Bulls defense fell apart there missing Smith on the basket cuts that allowed three baskets (2 kick out 3s, one a four point play) and the dunk.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Watching Brewer knock down that jumper, it strikes me that I am amazed everytime he knocks one down. The form is just so weird. I know, nothing new, but when he hits one off the dribble like that, I just think 'no chance'.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Someone described it like he's jumping rope.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    That is a good description.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    these are some kind of super-bobcats (with gerald wallace)

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Key to the second half: Rose manages to hit a shot against the Hawks ...

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    No doubt, when Rose is 2-11 with 2 TOs and 3 Assists and Carlos Boozer's not playing, you feel pretty good to be in the game.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Boston going to lose, this second half is really important for the Bulls, get the win and the #1 seed is right in reach.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Still going to be tough, because Boston owns the tiebreak.

    That said, we'll be within striking distance if we close this game out.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Boston's recent record isn't that hot (13-7 over their last 20) and the still have 6 road games against winning teams to go. If they close this game out I'd say the Bulls are close to 50/50 to catch them so long as Boozer can get back fast.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Who needs Boozer, Thomas is kicking some Horford ass tongight.

    and Noah is shutting down Smith.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Bulls defense in the third has really just been incredible. Until crawfords's three, the Hawks had scored 2 points in 7.5 minutes.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    and only 12 points in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

    Actually a 20 point half with one minute to go in the game.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Rose is just taking over, whatever they gave him to drink at half time I want some!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Rose is really getting superstar calls tonight. 12/13 from the line, probably 6 of those FTs are on dicey calls.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    He deserves those calls probably more than any other player in the NBA. He got robbed over and over again, it's time for the refs to make up for all their missed calls in the last 2 1/2 seasons.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    D-Rose is just so awesome...he's becoming more and more like a prime D-Wade, but without the crying and bitching around.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Rose 2-11 first half, 5/9 second half.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    still hating those 3s

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    2/5 in the second half isn't bad, but I'd live with him not shooting another three tonight and be pretty happy about it.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    another defensive qtr like that and no way back

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Yeah was great to see the defense crack down after getting a bit sloppy midway through the second.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Just that one stretch started by the lucky 4 point play caused by a broken play off of Gibson's deflection was the only real bad stretch of defense for the team.

    4 there, 2 on a missed rotation for a dunk. Another 3 on a missed rotation that lead to a kick out. That brief stretch with 9 points was really the only bad defensive stretch for the team.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Rose has had a great quarter but the threes make me want to claw my eyes out.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Hard to argue with that. I like him shooting some threes each game, but not 9 threes.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Mainly I just hate it when he dribbles up the court and launches one before even trying to run any sort of play. Don't mind him shooting some threes but at least try to get something better first.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Like the attempt #10 that he hit when he got open from a pick, that's a reasonable shot for him to take.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Great pick Big Sexy!!!!

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    joe johnson has to be one of the slowewst guards ive ever seen, hes even slower than deng, and deng is a forward

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Joe Johnson's a SF who just plays at SG.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    still, he moves like a PF

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    hey RW, so much for JoNo having a breakout on offence, don't know why he's not seen the ball today - been very quiet

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Zero points, very surprising.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Scal with the dagger! ;)

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Great win

    now lets get that #1 seed

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    +1. It looks like the celtics' trade didn't make them better !

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Even know Rasual Butler didnt play more then the last couple minutes....i like this guy. He drilled that 3 ball and he almost nailed the other 1 he took. The guy is a 3pt shooter, we could use him this season or maybe next year.

    Rose tore it up tonight

  • In reply to Csharp:

    Great win by the Bulls basically controlling the entire second half and I agree, Butler needs to get more playing time cause the guy can score and would be another weapon off the bench to give even more spacing, he just needs some PT.

  • In reply to Csharp:

    I was at the United Center tonight. I must say, seeing Rasual Butler on the court was a bit impressive. He is big, long and athletic. Not saying he is the Bulls answer at SG, but I could definitely see Bulls keeping him for next season as a rotation/depth guy

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    That's alright. I have faith in Jo. He'll get there. And Booz will get his game back too. Then the Bulls go on a playoff romp.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    when you watch him play this year makes you think Luol's contract ain't bad after all.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    JJ for 25 million in 2016 is going to be probably the most overpaid player ever.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    judging by tonight's performance, he's overpaid now.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    FWIW after this win and the Celtic's loss the Bulls are now rated as the best chance to take the #1 seed and to win the championship in Hollinger's playoff odds.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I think Thibs likes Deng's game so much that he keeps watching him as if he is MJ and forgets to take him out whether he is injured/playing 48 minutes.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Amazing how Deng was a "game time decision", yet he plays 40 minutes with a near triple double.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    Rasual Butler, wearing 45, like Jordan, coming into the team mid season.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    If we lose to the Magic in the second round I'm blaming Butler.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    don't remind me, especially with Horace Grant sitting courtside tonight.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Can we just trade Boozer for Horford? did Thomas shut him down(horford) or what. He has to have the best slap/strip move in the game since Jordan.

    Thomas should start against Dwight Howard even if Boozer is healthy, it makes Noah better.

    Boozer is really starting to look useless(a cheaper version of Joe Johnson). Thomas's D appears to be more valuable than Boozer's O, which has been steadily declining.

    By the way, he had me worried a bit in the beginning, but I told you guys that we were going to really like CJ Watson by the time the season ended. He has really played well lately, and seems to be getting better each game. Our bench has been extending our lead regularly lately.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    For some reason I don't think the Hawks are interested in that trade.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    +1 lol

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    ROSE FOR MVP !! this team is really impressive !!!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Well I think they got their payback for that collapse in Atlanta, really impressive second half, Atlanta aren't the greatest offensive team in the world but they didn't even hit 20 points for the second half until garbage time.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I know the stats bear something different..I feel that every other NBA team seems to have great 3 point shooting other than the Bulls. We seem to have only Korver who keeps running around like he is on a police chase and never seems open.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Bulls bench 11-16 for 22 points. (no fts)
    Bulls starters 9/28 for 26 points (8/9 from the FT line)

    Bulls 0-7 from the 3 point line headlined by Rose's 0-4 (though Rose had one shot at the buzzer that was blocked and Deng had the half time heave that had no chance, so really more like an 0-5 in terms of shots they wanted to take).

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    rose needs to cool it on those awful 3 tries, thats one of those horrible lebron shots - dribbling the clock away aimlessly and then firing away.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Rose had to keep taking them if he can. If he can get it consistent, it will be a big time bonus during the playoffs.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    that will never be a consistent shot for anyone, its just a horrible shot, just look at lebron.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Shooting threes is just not working.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Yeah, I could live with Rose not taking 6-7 3s a game. 3-4 a game on 33% is good. 7 a game? Yeah, not so much.

    There were a few good looks he had, but he also forced up a few off the dribble ones early in the shot clock.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Of course, Rose knocks down a 3 literally 10 seconds after I finish typing that.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    76ers beat Celtics so lets pick up the D here on Crawford and close the gap to 1/2 game back

  • In reply to walrus:

    Well Deng is out there, lets see how he goes.

  • I didn't watch the last game/debacle against Atlanta, but I figure with 31 points Horford had his way inside on several ocassions? If so, good defensive teams slow that down by taking advantage of the 'black hole syndrome'. You know the feasting big is not going to pass back out, so you double down with a second big in Taj or Derrick sneaks down from behind and strips him. I would hope Taj and Jo(and Omer) would at least be doing this some of the time getting blocks, charges, steals/strips. That's certainly what the Bulls of old would have done. They were the best at doubling on an offensively talented PF/big I've ever seen(Grant getting help when needed).

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    I think Horford had once in a lifetime game. He was shooting 3 pointers. I know he is an All-star but I think this was his best game of the season. I also don't know how many games Josh Smith has missed but Smith is kind of a knuckle-head and takes ill-advised shots and looks more for the highlight play kinda like Tyrus. I felt that not having Josh Smith helped Horford in the last game combined with Noah being tentative on defense/offense.
    Noah would not shoot even a 10 footer until the Charlotte game. So, I think it will be a different dynamic with these two guys today.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    If deng can't go, wonder if Butler will get some PT

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