A Christmas day game. Just one more reminder of how the Bulls fortunes have risen. Somehow, despite the national hype of the big national game and tip off of the season, it still managed to sneak up on me.
Kobe vs Rose
Much has been made of the Kobe vs Rose matchup, but in reality, it's Kobe vs Rose that we'll see. They may not check each other, but they'll key the offensive push for each team. They'll both see plenty of double teams and carry the scoring load.
Kobe enters the game with a torn ligament in his wrist, something he'll play through all season. He's also likely pissed about the trade of Lamar Odom away.
At this point in their careers, I'd say the two are similar caliber players, but I think Derrick Rose is more focused and ready to go at the immediate moment.
Noah vs Gasol
I imagine Gasol will shift to center where Joakim Noah will have the task of slowing him down. With Bynum out and role players filling out the rest of the LA roster, this defensive matchup will become one of the most important of the game. If Noah can keep Gasol in check, L.A. will have few scoring options.
Carlos vs Josh McRoberts
Josh McRoberts isn't a stud, but he does take some effort to defend. He shots from the perimeter and plays with a high motor. That combination is difficult for a guy like Carlos whom doesn't want to chase guys around outside and can sometimes lack energy defensively.
On the other hand, McRoberts shouldn't be a particularly tough matchup for Boozer either. He doesn't have the size or athleticism to truly disrupt Boozer. The Lakers may swap matchups and put the taller Gasol on Boozer to bother him more while banking on Noah not having enough offensive game to take advantage of the size matchup against McRoberts.
Can Deng and Hamilton fill it up?
The top scorers have been mentioned above, and the Bulls still have Deng and Hamilton left while the Lakers will probably start Derrick Fisher and Devin Ebanks. Seems like a home run for Chicago.
Coming off the bench,the Lakers have Blake, Murphy, and World Peace, but they're no match for the Bulls bench with Gibson, Korver, Brewer, Watson, and Asik.
Keys to the game
1: Move the ball
As noted above, the Bulls have far more scoring options than the Lakers. If they have quality ball movement then they should get plenty of good looks and take advantage of that depth.
2: Push the pace of the game
The Bulls are, by far, the deeper team. They're also the younger team. Pushing the pace will wear the Lakers out far more than themselves.
3: Don't let up.
Derrick Rose hasn't beaten the Lakers on the road yet. This is the still the Lakers in L.A. No matter what their problems are, they won't go down easy.
Unless Kobe beasts the Bulls on his own, this looks like a win for Chicago. If Bynum were playing it might be different, but he's not, and I don't think the Lakers have enough depth to take out the Bulls without him.
That said, the Lakers have a ton of pride, are playing at home, and Kobe loves the spotlight. While the Bulls should have a sizable advantage, I wouldn't ever take the Lakers lightly.
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