The Bulls will look to continue to their streak of no back to back losses when they face the Rockets tonight after a demoralizing defeat at the hands of the Thunder. 14 points don't begin to describe the gap of the teams in yesterday afternoon's debacle.
The Bulls will be missing Derrick Rose and likely Rip Hamilton again (really not buying any story that he's back until I see him on the court at this point) while the Rockets will be without Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin. The Bulls may be struggling with more significant injuries than Houston, but Houston's certainly missing a couple of very key guys.
Despite the injuries, the Rockets have played decently. They have beaten a few good teams (Lakers/OKC) with the injuries and have generally dropped games to quality opponents (Dallas x2 and Indy the most recent losses). Much like the Bulls, the Rockets are fighting through their injuries without much drop off.
Of course, a healthy Bulls team is much better than a healthy Rockets team, so they still should have the upper hand despite playing a back to back in which they threw in the towel after three quarters and an insurmountable Thunder lead.
Bulls have the front court advantage
Scola/Camby vs Boozer/Noah, you have to like the Bulls matchup up front. Both front courts have similar strengths and weaknesses. They both feature a high scoring, low defense four and a high energy, wiry, hustle scoring oriented five. However, Noah's more of a "prime" Camby than an "about to retire" Camby, and Boozer's much better on the glass than Scola.
Chicago also has much more interior passing with their pair in the front court than the Rockets do. Scola can be a bit scary when he whips out the spin cycle and gets guys moving, but he's the type of player I feel Boozer can have more success against since he'll look to set up with his back to the basket rather than face up and challenge Boozer's quickness or willingness to come out of the paint.
Who sends the memo to Goran Dragic tonight?
Dragic has been ripping it up with Lowry out and playing at a pretty high level. He can go a bit Jeremy Lin with the turnovers, but he's scoring at an extremely efficient rate while dishing out assists left and right. We won't have Derrick Rose to dunk all over him tonight, so C.J. Watson will need to play a high energy brand of defense to fight Dragic off.
The Bulls should fight over screens and will need to rotate well off the pick and roll as Scola and Dragic are both excellent threats to score and Courtney Lee has played well as the wing kickout option if rotate off of him.
On the other end, this is a game I think C.J. can assert hismelf offensively in. The Rockets don't have great shot blocking nor do they have perimeter size. Watson should have a quickness advantage on Dragic and should be able to do some damage himself.
In an amusing side note, John Lucas and Earl Boykins can both pick on someone their own size for a change [okay maybe Lucas isn't that small, but it's as close as Boykins is going to get].
Another hit for the Bench Mob
The Bulls biggest advantage in the game is likely to come with the defense they can bring off the bench to counteract what Houston brings off their bench. The Bulls have a set of very good big men to come in and relieve Boozer/Noah while the Rockets will respond with Samuel Dalembart, Patrick Patterson, and small ball.
Both teams bring a shooter off the bench, but I'll take Kyle Korver over Chase Budinger and John Lucas over Earl Boykins.
Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals
The Rockets play a great brand of team basketball much like the Bulls. Chicago needs to stay at home with the right guys, trust in their system and execute. If they do, their players are stronger, and they should win the game. However, Houston is more than capable of picking a part an opposing defense and well versed in team basketball themselves.
I look for the Bulls to bounce back, but it will likely prove a tough game for Chicago.
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