The Chicago Bulls go up against the Indiana Pacers in their second, and final, preseason game tonight. While Tom Thibodeau wouldn't commit, Richard Hamilton is expected to play.
Quite frankly, it's ridiculous if he doesn't at this point. If we trade for a player at the deadline are we going to wait a week for him to acclimate himself to the team before through him on the court? No. He'll play the instant he has passed his physical and the trade cannot be rescinded.
Why would we even consider not playing him in a game that means less than a regular season game when we'd assuredly do so if this was a mid season trade? It's silly enough that we left him out of preseason game one.
What to look for in this preseason game 2
What will Richard Hamilton do?
The Bulls ultimately had their pick between Hamilton (2 years), Crawford (2 years with a PO for the second year), and Jason Richardson (full MLE). They opted for Richard Hamilton. I could build a case for any of the three, but no matter whom the Bulls pick, if they pick wrong they'll be crucified for it.
Let's hope they didn't pick wrong.
Richard Hamilton will give us our first glimpse tonight whether that was the case or not. So far, all the quotes have been encouraging. Hamilton says all the right things about moving without the ball and fitting in with Derrick Rose, willingness to play whatever role is asked, etc..
I think his personality fits in perfectly with the team, but tonight we'll see if his slow decline the past three seasons was due to injuries and a fading Pistons team or due to the natural aging process. His game doesn't rely on tremendous burst, so there's a strong possibility we see a significant up tick in efficiency once he's running around other good players again.
Can Carlos Boozer get back on track?
It's only one preseason game, but there's a palpable fear over everything related to Boozer for Bulls fans. His performance conjured up memories of his playoff performance last year which was simply terrible. Hansbrough is the type of player Boozer should dominate. He's doesn't have a physical advantage on Boozer in terms of height or athleticism.
Obviously, it's still only preseason, but the Bulls truly need Boozer to be more of a difference maker than he was in the playoffs last season, and fans could sure use a quality performance tonight to feel better about him going into the regular season.
Improved effort level
The Bulls allowed the Pacers to out hustle them for large parts of the first meeting. Chicago easily won the game based on superior talent and depth, but Tom Thibodeau couldn't have been pleased with all the offensive rebounds allowed or turnovers trying to move the ball.
Look for the Bulls to improve considerably on their fundamentals in this game, as I'm sure they were beaten into the ground over the mental errors that occurred last game.
Can Jimmy Butler do it again?
Jimmy Butler had a strong debut, but the strength of that debut has been magnified by an overly exuberant fan base. Calls for Butler to play heavy rotation minutes and start next season have already been heard on realgm after he scored eight points in a preseason game.
Overexubertance aside, Butler looked like he belonged for one night, let's see if he can match that level of play tonight as well. I still don't expect Butler to play in the general rotation unless there's an injury, but it will be nice feeling comfortable with him in our back pocket if we need him.
Can we do two preseason games every year? It seems like the perfect amount where they still hold some interest after having lacked real basketball for so long, but then we're on to the real thing shortly afterwards.