Will Rip Hamilton fight through a sore groin to get revenge on his former team again? Let's hope not. At least not unless he's fully healthy, because aggravating a groin injury in an attempt to punish the Pistons for not starting him last season isn't all that helpful for the Bulls long term.
Overall, the Pistons are a fairly awful squad which should present little problem for the Bulls, especially at home. As such, allow me to hit on a few points from the Atlanta loss, since I didn't do a true recap outside of the podcast.
Did Thibs cut his losses against the Hawks?
When you look at the minutes for the starters, Thibodeau appeared to let this one go rather than trying to chase it when it was clearly gone. The starters played limited minutes and were out the entire fourth quarter.
That said, the starters were singularly horrific, so perhaps resting them the fourth wasn't due to him thinking the Bulls couldn't come back, but was him thinking the bench kicked the starters ass anyway.
I'm going to hope that he realized it wasn't happening in this game and decided to give his guys a rest and prepare long term rather than short term. The Bulls skipped practice Sunday and given how few opportunities to practice they have it shows Thibodeau is cognizant of the wear the season is having on the team.
Boozer and Noah still can't play together
How long do you let this go on before you split the pair of them up and go to Boozer/Asik or Taj/Joakim to start the game? I don't think it's time to make a switch yet, but Boozer/Noah do not play well together at all, and this trend goes back to last year when both players were at their best with the other out.
The Bulls really need to try to make this work, but do you pull the plug on it mid season if it's still a struggle or just force the team to fight through it?
I think the Bulls moving Boozer out of the low post and into the high post for pick and rolls is the first step towards trying to make the tandem better, but even so, the rebounding strength of both players is diminished playing next to each other, and they're both looking for the ball down low.
Mixing up the rotation might help both players considerably [though they'd still play together a decent amount most likely], but it will be a blow to the ego of one of the guys to come off the bench.
My guess is that Thibodeau will Keith Bogans this one, refusing to change regardless of how bad it gets.
Have to like what we saw out of Jimmy Butler
It was 12 minutes of action largely against the Hawks scrubs, but don't count out Jimmy Butler's 48 PER on the season so far. That's way beyond anything Jordan ever did.
Seriously though, Butler looked solid, his three hoops were all at the rim, but he played like he knew what he was about, and I like the fact that he didn't get all jacked up and crazy after scoring while the Bulls were down by 20 points. Maybe someone should show a tape of that to Blake Griffin.
Next year, the Bulls will almost certainly let some combination of Korver, Brewer, and Watson go [non guaranteed deals] and increase Butler's role to fill in. Brewer makes the most sense of the group, but against Miami I might lean towards having more defenders, and everything the Bulls do has to be geared towards beating Miami.
John Lucas has played very well
Lucas is either playing way over his head so far this season, or he's improved dramatically since he played with the Rockets in 2005-2007. He's shot the ball well from downtown [50%], scored in high volume per minute [24pts per 36], and has posted solid passing numbers [5.6a vs 2.8tos per 36].
Overall, for an emergency third guard, he's truly answered the bell. He's been the PG equivalent to Kurt Thomas, coming in completely cold and doing his job at a high level. We'll see if he can keep it up, but at his present rate of play, he could steal the back up PG job from CJ Watson or potentially make Watson expendable next season.
Okay, back to the Pistons game...
Keys to the game
Defend the perimeter
The Bulls didn't cover up the three point line well enough in Atlanta, and it cost them the game. The Pistons are more likely to shoot their way to victory on a hot night than they are to slash their way to victory, so make sure to cover up the three point line this time.
When they do drive, the Bulls interior defense should be able to rotate over to help on the Pistons undersized guards.
Pay attention to details
Against underwhelming opponents, the Bulls need to focus on their execution on both ends of the court. The Pistons don't have the talent to hang with Chicago unless they shoot lights out or the Bulls simply get sloppy on both ends of the court.
Chicago needs to control turnovers, get back in transition, and box out on the defensive glass. Making sure to cover the fundamentals will turn this into a game of execution, and the Pistons lack the talent to execute their game plan more efficiently than the Bulls.
Go out, play hard, get the win. It should be an easy game, but good teams lose to bad ones all the time if they treat it as such.