"We’re kind of mad they smacked us last time at their place," said Rose. Ahh yes, the revenge factor, Derrick Rose certainly borrowed that trait from Michael Jordan. The Chicago Bulls will look to avenge one of their eight losses on the season in Philadelphia. This time they'll have Luol Deng, and this time I expect them to come out prepared.
The 76ers are reeling a bit. They've lost six of their last eight, largely on the road, largely to good teams. That said, the Bulls are [obviously] a good team and should come out with focus, passion, and energy. The 76ers are an unselfish team that moves the ball and can score from all five positions on the court. They're athletic, and they defend. They'll likely play a lot of small ball, so the Bulls should beat them on the glass something fierce.
Can the Bulls press their size advantage?
The 76ers give up a ton of offensive rebounds, and Chicago is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the NBA. The Bulls will hit the glass hard looking to press their size advantage while Philly will look to leak out and hurt the Bulls for pushing too hard on the glass. Philly will look to counter the Bulls second chance points with fast break points; who can pull off the bigger advantage?
Joakim "the trap buster" Noah
Noah has played at a high level recently. He's moved the ball and scored well. Noah's the most likely outlet on a Derrick Rose trap, and the 76ers will trap frequently. How well will Noah play out of the trap? That could determine the game. If Noah gives the Bulls another 12/12/5 type game, then Philly will be sufficiently punished for overcommitting on Rose.
The Cavaliers tried to overcommitt on Rose, and the Bulls destroyed them for it, however, Philly recovers much faster, and there's no guarantee Chicago will remain as hot behind the three point line.
Cover up those three point shooters
Jodie Meeks, Andre Iguodala, Louis Williams, and Jrue Holiday are all shooting well (38%+) from behind the three point line. The 76ers will frequently have three shooters on the floor at once, so the Bulls need to be careful to run guys off the three point line into long two point jumpers instead.
Big game for Boozer
This is the type of game built for Boozer to thrive in. There is no shot blocking big man to bother him nor does Elton Brand have size or athleticism on him. Carlos should have a field day down low if the Bulls feed him in the low post and his roll game should be difficult for Brand to stop. I expect a big performance out of Carlos who's struggled coming out of the all-star break.
How does Derrick Rose respond to the trap?
Can he split the double team? Will Rip Hamilton and Luol Deng cause enough defensive shift with their off the ball movement to help give Rose room? Can he utilize the pick and roll? As noted above, both Boozer and Noah should have quality matchups to exploit against the 76ers, but if they fall short can Rose carry the Bulls against wave after wave of athletic perimeter defenders?
Derrick's a superstar, and we've seen MVP style Derrick Rose post all-star break. He's back to playing with his full level of athleticism, punishing teams with his speed and power. Regardless of what his teammates do and regardless of what the 76ers throw at him, I expect Derrick Rose to go off. I don't think he'll let this team lose to the 76ers two games in a row.
Prediction? Bulls win
I predict the Bulls win enough to not bother typing a prediction in most games, but a road game against a very good team is no gimmie. That said, I expect Chicago, led by Rose, to come out with focus and fire to put this one away.