The Chicago Bulls will still be missing Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton but caught a break when Joakim Noah wasn't suspended following an ejection for throwing a ball at an official when the Bulls squeaked by Toronto on Saturday. They take on a Denver Nuggets team also missing their best player in Danilo Gallinari after trading away one of their core guys (Nene) for a project (McGee).
Denver has been slaughtered its last two games, both on the road, and desperately needs a win to stay in a tight playoff race which presently has them in a there way tie for 7th with Phoenix just a half game back in 10th while Minnesota and Portland are still within striking distance of the playoffs themselves.
Denver can score plenty, but they're terrible defensively, particularly in guarding the three point line. The question is whether or not the Bulls can take advantage of that weakness or not. The Nuggets will look to turn this into a high possession ball game and try to outscore Chicago.
The Bulls may be better served slowing the tempo down and forcing Denver to execute in the half court instead, especially given that they're missing their most effective transition player in Rose.
Denver will shoot themselves in or out of a game
The Nuggets like to jack up three point shots despite hitting only a shade over 32% of them as a team. Now teams that jack up tons of threes are prone to the game where their shooters are on making them extremely difficult to defeat, but more often then not will shoot themselves out of the game.
The Bulls shouldn't give up open threes, but they should look to shut down the paint as a priority rather than looking to shut down the perimeter shooting of the Nuggets. Aaron Afflalo is the only shooter near 40%, sitting just a shade under at 38 and change, most of their shooters are hovering in the 33% range.
Bang them up inside
The Denver frontcourt is full of foul prone players when it comes to protecting the basket. Both McGee and Mozgov will hack guys plenty due to inexperience and improper positioning. If Chicago is able to penetrate around the rim or feed the ball in low, they should make it to the free throw line plenty for cheap points.
Focus, focus, focus
The Bulls came out flat two games in a row, and in their past, this has typically meant a loss is coming. It seems like rather than being scared straight by a near loss, they get more complacent that they'll find some miracle to bail them out. Granted, without Rose the Bulls are probably due for a couple of defeats unless you believe they'd really be 60 win team in a full season without Derrick in the lineup.
The Bulls should get this game
Of course the Bulls are still missing their best player and another starter, but the Nuggets are missing their best player as well and have been crushed in their past two road games. They're still adjusting to new teammates and haven't put together the chemistry yet. The Bulls will need to be do all the little things, but as long as they're ready to play they should find a way to win the game.
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