Bulls @ Pistons 6:30 on CSN+ plus Boston, Miami, SA, and LA play

As always, CSN+ is channel 666 or you directv users.  The Bulls go on to face the Detroit Pistons tonight, in a game which doesn't project to be all that difficult.  The Pistons are generally undersized, have the worst front court in the league, and don't really have an advantage at any position on the court outside of SG.

Keys to the game

Don't blow it

Look, the Pistons are one of the worst defenses in the NBA.  Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer should have little trouble getting their offense going.  The team should move the ball well and generate tons of easy shots at the basket.

The Pistons have no front court, nor balance, and rely almost entirely on Rodney Stuckey or Ben Gordon to have a huge night in order to win.  The Bulls should have little trouble containing their offense as they defend particularly well against isolation plays.

Let's see what happens in the rest of the seeding chases

Miami plays at Minnesota

I know that the Heat recently lost to the Cavs, but that was kind of a special case where the whole world was rooting for them to lose.  That's not going down tonight, so the Heat will remain 3 games back of us after the night is over.  Heading into the night, the Bulls have a magic number of five against the Heat. 

Boston plays at Atlanta

The Celtics picked up a much needed win against the Spurs yesterday which helps the Bulls, but we'll get to that in the Spurs section.   Boston remains two games back from Chicago in the loss column, but they do own the tiebreaker against us, so it's equivalent to a one game cushion.  

This could be a tough game for Boston coming on a back to back with a time change where Atlanta is desperate and needs the win as well.   I would not be surprised if the Celtics lost, but who knows, maybe they'll pick up some momentum by beating the Spurs even if the win is somewhat hollow without Duncan playing.

The Bulls magic number vs Boston is eight.

Lakers plays at Utah

The Lakers are presently tied in the loss column with Chicago, but the Bulls own the tiebreaker against them for home court.   The Lakers should roll the Jazz though, and while the Lakers play some tough teams down the stretch, they play them all at the Staples Center.  L.A. could win out, or lose only one more on the season.

The bulls magic number against the Lakers is nine.

San Antonio at Houston

The Spurs are ice cold without Duncan which should throw some cold water on anyone thinking that he isn't the most important player on their team just because his stats are down.   The Spurs are sliding, and due to their loss against Boston, they would now likely finish tied with Chicago in the tiebreaker if they met in the finals and finished with identical records.

Without Duncan, it would not surprise me if the Bulls were able to catch San Antonio, but without Duncan, the Spurs have no shot in hell of meeting anyone in the finals either, so we'll see what happens.

The Bulls magic number against San Antonio is likely 11 with a coin flip determining the winner if they end up tied.

Final thoughts

Nine games left.   The Spurs and Celtics have good chances to lose tonight while Chicago, Miami, and the Lakers should be overwhelming favorites.   The bulls magic number for the East (the really only important one), could fall as low as six if Boston loses. 

Boston, with eight games to go, has a magic number of 7 to stay ahead of the Heat which could prove crucial to them as well.

Comments

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  • This coming from Bill Simmons, whom I feel is the most knowledgeable NBA guy in the world, and also a very witty one:

    ...a heated MVP race led by Derrick Rose, who I will choose to remember this season as someone who

  • Duncan played last night. Went for 20 and 13.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    and they lost again

    Lakers won, killed & demoralized Dallas, who had been the best road team in the NBA. I don't think the rejuvenated Laker team loses another game until the playoffs.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Maybe not even then, as I have always said, as long as Kobe is a reasonalbe facsimile of himself and Bynum plays healthy that team is virtually unbeatable, and would win 70 games if whole for an entire season.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    they are going to have almost as tough a road as the Bulls going through the East, starting with a dangerous Portland team in the 1st round. They are not unbeatable.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    wow, lot of Boozer hate these days. Good luck thinking you can win without him.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    My thoughts exactly.

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  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Anyone still miss Ben Gordon? One wonders what he would have done alongside DRose? Then again, if he was still here maybe DRose would never have come out of his shell and become the superstar he now is. And he hasn't exactly replicated the scoring binges he used to go on for the Bulls. He is is averaging a career-worst 11.8 points on the season! Yikes!

  • In reply to claytonabigsby:

    Nope, don't miss one bit.

    Unless I'm reminiscing about his dribble, dribble, dribble...and dribble some more before putting up a terrible shot that barely grazes the rim.

    Oh, and his defense was atrocious.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    Neither do we miss Salmons or Hinrich...Although, that said Hinrich or BG could have been good 2nd team guys.
    BG was/is a good professional. Unfortunately, Dumars is screwed with the impending sale of the Pistons to change them for the better.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Who's Salmons? ;-)

    Yeah, Hinrich drove me crazy sometimes too with his streak shooting, dribbling off his foot, back-to-back turnovers sometimes. But when he was moved to more of a role/bench player, which was defense, toughness, and the occasional spot-up jumper (much like Bogans current role), then he was pretty good.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    I like Hinrich but the salary freed up is being well used. We could have only had one of Brewer/Korver/Watson if not for the trade, so from that perspective I don't miss him at all, the replacement players are worth more to the team.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    The Boozer is better without Noah theory is certainly getting a boost the last couple of games.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    i think it's more the boozer is better without deng. Rose for quite a few games was going to deng rather than boozer. The only difference is boozer is getting more touches now.For a while now, we weren't looking to put boozer in situations where he would score.

    I don't think noah and boozer are a great fit together, but boozer's game isn't hindered as much by noah as significantly as noah's games hindered by boozer.

  • In reply to pinkizdead:

    Yep, Boozer just gets in the way of guys who actually try to play the game the right way with his histrionics and other antics.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    We just played 2 of the worst defensive teams in the history of the league, basically 2 teams full of BG boozers.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    what's going on ? my league pass isn't working ! does someone has a link to see the game ?

  • In reply to deewaves:

    http://zonein.tv/1542724

  • In reply to deewaves:

    too much chucking rose, 1-7 in the quarter

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Deng guarding Gordon on the "i took your contract" matchup.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    bulls gonna get a thank you card from rip hamilton for making people believe he can still play. On the other hand, congratulations to boozer for recognizing that nobody on thw pistons front line weighs over 150 pounds.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Did you happen to notice Jason Maxiel who might be threatening 300 these days.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    Noah is gonna be "overpaid" next year, he's been totally ineffective this season...

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Yeah he doesn't play well in a suit for some reason.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Bulls win and Boston going to lose, really looking like the Bulls have the #1 in the East tied up.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    But for some reason the Bulls are playing well when Noah is in a suit. They

  • In reply to Edward:

    It's not that surprising that if an elite and deep team is missing a starter for the weakest part of the schedule the team is still going to have a good record.

    It's no coincidence that with the team mostly healthy after the all-star break the point differential has jumped from 6 (fringe contender level) to over 10 (title favourite level).

  • In reply to Edward:

    GOOD NIGHT:

    - Boston...Loses.
    - San Antonio...Loses.
    - LAL, so far are losing.

  • In reply to Edward:

    TRIVIA QUESTION

    The Bulls are 1 of 2 teams to not have a losing streak of more than two games. Name the other team.

  • In reply to kbar17:

    Oklahoma City Thunder? Just a guess, I didn't look anything up...

  • In reply to Edward:

    Nope. OKC lost 3 in a row in February. Good guess.

  • In reply to kbar17:

    I'd like to admit that I made a mistake.
    My pre-season prediction was to win 54 games this year.

    And while I was mocked and ridiculed ... ok, not really ... but not many people thought 54 wins was within reason, I held strong.

    However, after officially adding win #55 to the season, I now see the error of my ways.
    I should have predicted at least 60!!

    Now if the Jazz will just hold onto their lead, this will be a great day ...

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    If anyone had predicted 60 wins I think Doug may have banned them from this blog! Haha. I had Bulls at low 50s so I must admit my mistake as well. Nobody saw this coming, except may be Rose and Thibs.

    I

  • In reply to Edward:

    I said that 50 wins would have been a gross underperformace, and that 55 to 60 should be attainable if Boozer and the other free agents were worth any of the money they got and if Thibideau was any better of a coach than Del Bimbo.

    Thibideau has proved his worth, and despite Boozer's limitations the rest of the gang has performed well, and Rose took the next step into legitimate startdom.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You had 55-60? Good for you!
    Yes, Thibs has been tremendous. I wanted him 2 years earlier but Boston wouldn

  • In reply to Edward:

    Thought this might interest some people here: Great article on how Thibs has changed the Bulls offense & defense to be more about taking and not allowing the three vs long twos.

    http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1619

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    I had 55 wins as my baseline to feel the season was a success if the Bulls were healthy, anything less would be an under achievement. I thought Doug saying maybe they could get to 50 wins but would likely be a high 40s win team was ridiculously pessimistic. Turns out I was pretty pessimistic too because they're likely going to get to 60 without being particularly healthy.

  • In reply to kbar17:

    Celtics haven't lost more than 2.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    Winner! Is anybody else surprised by that? Doesn't it seem like the Celtics are struggling more than that?

    The teams that play the best defense and control the boards are the least likely teams to have long slumps. I still believe the Celtics would beat the Heat in the playoffs. The zombie O'neals and Garnett are better than what the Heat have in the paint. I'd pick the Bulls vs. the Celtics in 6 very close games.

  • In reply to Edward:

    they are 46-12(just south of .800) since the 9-8 start, with Boozer without Boozer, with Noah without Noah.

    Better question, given tonights ceremonies in Detroit, or more fun at least is who would you rather have Boozer or Rodman on this Bulls team.

    For me it would be n question, but I like defense, rebounding and geniune effort.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Rodman is a little old, I think I'll stick with Boozer. ;)

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    There are several factors in Bulls improved play. Several players are playing much better the second half of the season, the bench mob has really jelled (even gaining a nickname), and that

  • In reply to Edward:

    I think people look at contracts the wrong way a lot of the time. Here are the alternatives:

    a) Pay Noah 12 million dollars and have Noah.
    b) Don't pay Noah 12 million dollars and have 12 million in JR's pocket but no Noah.

    There is no option c, use that 12 million dollars on someone else, because that's not how the salary cap works.

    Given the available options it's a no-brainer to pay Noah, unless your opinion of him is ridiculously low.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    You

  • In reply to Edward:

    It's really neither here nor there because the options still become extend Noah or lose him for nothing. Whatever number he's extended at the Bulls aren't likely to have cap space for the duration of his contract. The only question to consider is whether he's tradeable on the contract he has, and given the situation with Denver wanting him for Melo it seems like he's still pretty desirable to other teams.

    Plus it's always better to lock a guy up if you can get a decent deal done, why deal with uncertainty? Who knows who would have ended up creating cap space and bidding, causing the Bulls to pay even more. You can play the "well he got injured so maybe now he'd get less" game, but that's not information the Bulls had at the time they had to make the decision. If Noah doesn't get injured and goes to the all-star game how much would he end up being paid? He could easily have ended up being paid max money.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Of course you never want to lose an asset (high draft pick) for nothing. But most NBA teams chose to not extend their 2007 draft picks, preferring to resign them under the new CBA. All those teams will not lose their players to restricted free agency, you oversimplify and ignore the ramifications and strategies (too many to list here) involving the new CBA.

    Max money and salary cap will be lower, perhaps considerably. How much lower will determine if Noah

  • In reply to Edward:

    and Boozers aren't. Just watch him stand there like a statue(just like Ben Gordon)after any Bulls turnover, especially his own while all 9 other players sprint down the court and Boozer doesn't even bother to cross half court. He did it 2 or 3 times tonight, ,usually resulting in a layup for the other team.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    BG Boozer is overpaid right now, nevermind how badly he will be over the next 4.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Nearly everyone who is not on a rookie deal or isn't a top 10 player is overpaid. I don't think Boozer is particularly more overpaid compared to the rest.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    Good to see Dennis get is number retired, hopefully he gets into the hall soon too.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    obviously you didn't listen to tonights telecast, or you posted this before you did.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Bucher said it it best for people who are telling Rose is the front runner because it is a good story. If it was a good story, then George Karl should have been the front runner for the COY. DRose is winning on his merit and hopefully he makes Rodman feel good about the franchise where he won his most number of rings.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I'd say George Karl fits right in with the good story theory. He is starting to get COTY consideration, when in reality the Denver GM should be getting exec of the year for getting 120 cents on the dollar for a guy who didn't want to be there anyway. But that wouldn't be a good story because the accepted story is Melo is a superstar who you can't lose by trading for.

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