Bulls vs Pistons 7pm on CSN - Hamilton likely back and coming off the bench

Bulls vs Pistons 7pm on CSN - Hamilton likely back and coming off the bench

With 15 games to play, the Bulls sit with a magic number of 13 to take the #1 seed and home court against Miami. They look to shrink it tonight when Detroit comes to town. The team appears to face a new challenge, a good challenge, in integrating Rip Hamilton back into the lineup.

Early word is that Hamilton is expected to play but come off the bench in his first game back. Will the Bulls keep him in a bench role or move him to the starting lineup if he proves fully healthy? Bringing back Rip is great for Chicago, but it will present some interesting chemistry changes.

A healthy Rip Hamilton means a minutes crunch for the perimeter rotation. One solution would be to limit Deng's minutes in order to get him more rest and play Brewer/Hamilton at SF some. Any time Jimmy Butler had is almost certainly gone now. It's a good probably for Chicago to have, but I expect an adjustment period. Rip gives them another quality offensive option on a team that's frequently struggled to get good looks.

The classic trap game

It's probably been three seasons since the Pistons beat Chicago, so you know the Bulls aren't looking at them as any type of rival. This is a hammer and nail rivalry right now where the Bulls play the role of the hammer. The Bulls get to play at home [where they're awesome] and completely outclass this Pistons team which likely has ownership hoping for a worse record to get advance in the lottery standings anyway.

On top of the generally crappy play by the Pistons, Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey are both doubtful for the game tonight robbing the team of two of their better scorers and shot creators. It will be a full on youth movement with Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, a bunch of scrubs and old man Prince running the show.

In short, it's a game there's no reason Chicago should lose. However, they have a big matchup on Sunday against Oklahoma City which kicks off perhaps the most difficult stretch of the season where Chicago plays six straight against playoff teams. If the Bulls emerge from that stretch ahead of Miami in the loss column, they're likely heading to the #1 seed.

As such, it's easy to see the team getting distracted, looking ahead, and raising Tom Thibodeau's blood pressure in this game. Also, the energy level on a bad team frequently rises when veterans get hurt. The veterans have already mailed it in while the young guys on the bench are playing for their careers in the NBA in the few minutes they have.

This can create an opponent with far less skill but a caged animal like ferocity. In short, the Bulls should trivially out-talent the Pistons, but they'll have to guard against a lack of focus or effort which could allow Detroit to hang around. Of course, hanging around is probably about the most Pistons fans can hope for.

Keys to the game

Show up like the game isn't already in the bag, and the game will be in the bag. It's really that simple. Home game against a terrible team that's missing a couple of its top options. That focus should reflect in the stat sheet in terms of controlling the glass and limiting turnovers.

If Chicago does those two things everything else should trivially fall into place.

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  • Detroit vs Bulls or the "Hammer N' Nail Series" brought to you by Dodge Ram(it up their..)...

    As Doug poignantly noted the anti-rivalry going on right now between once bitter rivals, I still would hope this isn't a 'trap game.' The Bulls defense and overall play just suffered a sad stretch for what three games in a row there(even though they won two of them) pre-Atlanta, I would be dissapointed if they didn't get back from that valley to start towards another peak for a little while or a few games at least. Especially post Atlanta.

    As an afterword, I think the Atlanta win was a nice showcase of what the Bulls need to do as a team in the playoffs. The Bulls torch job of an admittedly tired Hawks team without Horford was still a quality win IMO as Josh Smith and Co. brought some fight to that game. Pride on the line against one of the league's supposed best at home. Plus the Hawks know they can play the Bulls tough on many ocassions including Last year's playoffs.

    I am glad post Jeremy Lin in hindsight that Lucassanity hasn't gone overboard. I will say however, that when you effect winning as much as Lucas has with stand out play repeatedly, after a while it becomes significant.

    If John Lucas can bring that type of game to the playoffs, especially the assist aspect peppered with alluring scoring which makes it more effective, then that is an important addition. Jeff Teague during that timeout when the Bulls first started putting it to the Hawks, had the ball knocked out of his hands by Lucas heading back to the bench.

    I don't really regard those old Detroit and Pat Riley Knicks/ Miami(Mourning, Hardaway etc.) shennanigans as the 'Bulls way,' as it sure seemed to fire up Teague who then agressively drove to the basket repeatedly. Nonetheless, Lucas went toe to toe twice with him blocking one of his shots for the takeaway.

    Meanwhile on the other end, with Teague now 'taking it personal'(which is what Lucas does all the time - take the game personal) trying to pin him down at the half court line, Lucas or "The Lone Dribbler" as he sometimes can become, noentheless did a behind the back, change of direction Okiedoke crossover in essence, racing past Teague into a Boozer pick that arrived nicely delayed and undetected swatting the pursuing Teague off like a gnat. This followed by Cool Hand Luc serving up one of the nastiest sky lob passes you're going to see to Taj " the Mountain Climber" Gibson for the ultra flush.

    Then you had Boozer refueling his shooting game by driving to the hoop on a face up against Frakenstein's lost half brother Zsa Zsa Gabor or sorry, Peculiar(New Youruhk pronunciation). Boozer then with the slip screen for the gliding dunk you very much. Add Joakim successfully attacking the basket with a few nice scoring drives that energized his D and the whole teams. Plus Taj not biting on pump fakes which is the mark of the elite defender, and one he has been flirting with.

    And Luol Dangerous, despite the nagging or shackling wirst has been overall hitting the three hovering around the 40% mark all year. Plus the franchise foundation winning presence he's at times displayed like the traffic cop behind the back drop off to Taj for another going horizontal rimrocker.

    It's that type of play they are going to need, and that's WITH a healthy D-Rose and Richard Hamilton(I'm dropping the RIP as it sounds synonomous with inury after his geriatric britlleness this season). Anyway, the play exhibited and Thibs picking the perfect time for the TO to stop that Hawks run i.e solid, solid coaching is a blueprint of what the Bulls will need to defeat the Dark Side. "Luke(JL3), use the force Luke" As he skitters along the Death Star D of Miami with stealth dishes for lethal assaults on the rim.

  • I thought this was a 66 game season? If the bulls are 41-11 Wouldn't that be 14 games? Im not trying to be a smart a$$ or anything. Somebody correct me if im wrong

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    You are correct. The Bulls only have 14 games left, the Heat have 17. Should get the Bulls a little more rest, but the stretch after Detroit will be a challenge.

    However, I don't think it matters a lot if the Bulls wind up with the #1 or #2 seed - they are a great road team. The key should be health.

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    My bad, it should be 13, I thought they had played once less game than they did ;)

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    I think the confusion here is over what "magic number" means. It's not how many games the Bulls have left (which is indeed 14). It's essentially an equation for determining the minimum number of Bulls wins + Miami losses need for the Bulls to clinch the #1 seed in the East.

    The number is indeed 13.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_number_%28sports%29

  • In reply to bzoooty:

    Simplest way to think about it:

    Right now we have 2 fewer losses than Miami. If we lose 2 more games than Miami over the rest of the season, then we end up tied (so seeding would depend on the tiebreakers).

    Which means to stay ahead we can only afford to lose 1 more game than them over the rest of the reason. If we lose 1 more game than them, we finish ahead by "1 game" (i.e. 1 more win, 1 fewer losses). That means that as of right now in order to guarantee we get the #1 seed we need to go at least 13-1.

    Of course, it's highly unlikely, though certainly not impossible, that Miami will win all of its remaining games. For each loss they have, we can afford 1 additional loss as well.

  • In reply to bzoooty:

    Now 12. Good game.

    Too bad Toronto didn't hold on against Miami. They brought it close mid-4thq.

  • In reply to bzoooty:

    Thank you for the detailed explanation of Bulls situation on the #1 seed.

  • We all know Thibs won't do it, but with the tough games ahead, tonight would be the perfect opportunity to give Deng's wrist a rest. There's no reason why they couldn't take out this Pistons team , especially if Stuckey and Gordon are out, with Brewer, Hamilton, Korver, Butler, and maybe some Watson taking up all of the minutes at the SG & SF positions. Again, the chances of Deng sitting it out are pretty much none, so I guess all we can hope for is reduced minutes due to a blowout win.

  • Off topic, but now apparently you've got Steve Nash and Jason Terry(of all people) saying they're interested in playing for Miami. I guess you can't blame them..? The whores(sorry).

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Yeah, the Bulls don't seem to be a marquee destination for ring chasers yet. Nash wouldn't really fit, but JET would be a great "microwave" for us. I wonder if that will change if the Bulls bounce Miami out of the playoffs.

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    It won't change because the Heat have 3 allstars, the Bulls only one. The unusual strength of the Bulls is their bench, which is great to watch in a game, but it just doesn't have the marqee draw of Miami's Big Three. It may well be enough to take down the Heat this year, tho. It is one of the best benches in NBA history.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    I'm praying that Thibs plays The Bench Mob in the playoffs as much as he does in this regular season. imo, the playing time of The Bench Mob will be a key factor in Bulls' playoff success!

    The 'old coaching cliche' of shortening the rotation for playoffs does not fit this Bulls roster! In fact it would remove Bulls' greatest strength.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    The Bulls big advantages are Rose, their bigs, and their bench. Historically, rotations shorten in the playoffs, but I think this Bulls team needs to (for the most part) maintain it's regular season rotations or having one of the best benches in history won't be a factor against the Heat.

  • Does anybody still think BG and his $11/year contract would make this Bulls team better? Still not convinced? How about the fact that every single player on the bulls has a higher PER than BG does....

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Wow, while PER isn't the be all end all, that is still a very powerful indictment of what a true bum Gordon really is, exactly as I predicted, by the way.

    Ben Gordon has proven to be exactly what I said he was for years in arguing that he had to go, a self centered, selfish, money grubbing malcontent, who only cared about getting his, points and money. Now that he got his money, he doesn't even seem to care about getting his points.

    Not even bothering to try to play defense is a major character flaw. Basically the difference between guys like Gordon and the Mataboozer and a guy like Kyle Korver, and character matters(a lot) when putting together a championship caliber team.

    Over the years, I've taken a lot of grief for my over the top stance on both Gordon and currently the Mataboozer, among others. I have been 100% vindicated on virtually everything that I have ever said about Gordon. Sooner or later the same will be true of the Mataboozer.

    As I've been saying for some time now, the Mataboozer is the Ben Gordon of power forwards.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Wow. I don't think BG is a bum, but I definitely think for that kind of money he should be making more of an impact. I'd just like to hear from all the people who even this year said the bulls should go and get BG.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    anyone who mopes and cries about his contract and being disrespected for 2 years, essentially ruining an up and coming team, then goes to the highest(and only bidder) and immediately begins underperforming his contract, getting worse every single year in Detroit after he got paid is by definition a bum. What would you call him, a hero.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I've defended Kyle Korver before and I'll do it again.
    I don't understand how you can lump Kyle Korver's defensive performance in with, Boozer, or Gordon, both of whom don't bother to make an effort on defense. Korver makes an effort and generally plays smart on defense, he is just not very physically capable. I also might add that he is excellent at raping a guy up making sure he doesn't get the shot up when he does foul.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    BG was never going to be worth that contract, the Bulls played the situation perfectly, you can't afford to overpay too many guys with this salary cap structure.

    And the fact that people still seem to have faith in BG is crazy, I argued this after his first dud season in Detroit that he was done and would never be the player he was on the Bulls. I looked up the stats at the time, I can't remember the exact numbers, but it was something like 4% of players who drop off from 20+ to under 15 PPG ever have another 20 PPG season. Falling off a cliff like that is a huge red flag no matter what the reason for it.

  • Just saw this quote from Rose regarding his injury and not rushing back so he doesn't impact his speed...
    “My speed is my whole entire game. If I don’t have that … I haven’t learned to play without my speed. I’m not old yet. I haven’t learned that part of the game yet.”

    It's true, just funny that he said "I'm not old yet."

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