The Chicago Bulls went into Cleveland and annihilated the Cavs. While the whole team shot well, long time scapegoats Carlos Boozer and Rip Hamilton led the way for the second straight game and are both off to a hot start to the season.
This time, they got plenty of help from the rest of the team on offense, and the Bulls piled on the points against a Cleveland squad that couldn't play any team defense whatsoever. Unlike the opener, the Bulls had plenty of shots at the rim to deliver high percentage offense and cleaned up much of what they missed for easy put backs.
All in all, the shot over 50% in a game that was effectively over after the first half. The Bulls emptied the bench for the majority of the second half and the starters will be well rested for the game tonight in New Orleans.
The bench mob 2.0 has played much better in the regular season than in preseason. Nate Robinson is playing well and while Marco Belinelli isn't setting the world on fire, he's played much better in both regular season games than any preseason ones. Jimmy Butler played quite well last night with outstanding defense and looked solid on offense.
Nazr Mohammed hasn't played quite so well as in preseason, but he's also gotten few opportunities. Taj Gibson has played well on defense but hasn't found his game on the offensive side yet.
Bulls vs Hornets
The Hornets will play without star Rookie Anthony Davis who score eight points and had six boards in just 14 minutes prior to getting elbowed by teammate Austin Rivers causing a mild concussion. He won't be accompanying the team to Chicago. Eric Gordon is expected to miss the game with a sore left knee as well.
This leaves the Bulls facing a team low on talent and experience. Much like the Cavs and Kings teams the Bulls have already defeated, Chicago should do well by just playing consistent, smart basketball against a team that will struggle to do the same.
The Hornets don't have a go-to scorer, quality defenders, or much of anything to throw at a Chicago Bulls team that seems likely to lead to their victory, which sets this up as one of those inexplicable let down games that you somehow fear the team will lose. Under a different coach that might happen, but I doubt it does under Tom Thibodeau.
If Chicago wants to compete for a decent seed, they'll need to take advantage of all the early games in the season against mediocre to poor competition, because things get much tougher very shortly. I set an opening goal for Chicago to win three of their first four. They're 2/3rds of their way there and with Davis and Gordon out tonight have no excuse not to pick up this game as well.
Keys to a win
Like always, it starts with Defense, rebounding, and sharing the ball on offense. The Hornets are the third team in a row the Bulls face that will likely to fail to match them in terms of discipline, schemes, and talent. As long as the Bulls play their game and remained focused, they should come up with another win tonight.