Will the Chicago Bulls avoid destruction tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder?

On the surface, the Bulls have very little chance to win this game. Even without James Harden the top three scorers on the Thunder would be the #1 scorer if they were on the Chicago Bulls without Rose. Even with Rose the Thunder would be the favorites, without him the Bulls are set up for a complete dismantling tonight.

Yes, on paper, this lines up at a 20 point loss. The Bulls can't contain the Thunder offense and don't have the scorers to keep up. However, games aren't won on paper.

Last season I watched LeBron James humiliate John Lucas by leaping over him and dunking in a game only to see John Lucas come back and grow a pair of balls so big they scraped the United Center floor when he dismantled LeBron on three straight plays to lead the a Roseless Bulls team to victory over the Heat.

John Lucas's fadeaway over LeBron will go down as one of my favorite Bulls plays of all time. That game may have been a regular season game in what is now a throw away season but still created one of my favorite Bulls memories, and it happened because the Bulls went out and did something they had no business doing with one of the most unlikely players coming out and playing the superstar role.

Do the Bulls have that type of moment in store for tonight? Probably not. You don't get many of them, but I didn't expect it that night either. To see something truly great it helps if there are some long odds. Most of the time, your expectations will be dashed by half time, and I expect that tonight, but there's always a chance for a Nate Robinson moment.

Is it that hard to envision Nate Robinson having an on night and becoming an unstoppable force for 5 minutes at the end of the game? Is it hard to imagine him draining multiple threes or driving through the lane? No, honestly, it's not. We've already seen it happen. We know he has it in him. He has the confidence, he has the belief, and he has the skills at least once in three games.

It's likely that the Bulls get annihilated anyway, that they won't even stand a chance to keep it close enough to give Robinson (or some other unlikely hero) a chance to pull something amazing out at the end. However, the chance for something great is why we watch.

Find a way to score efficiently

The Bulls are living in the inefficient zone with their shots. They're taking an absolute crapload of the least efficient shots in the game; mid range jumpers. Chicago needs to find a way to get their three point attempts and percentage up. Luol Deng in particular needs to find his stroke from beyond the arc.

When the Bulls can start stretching the floor out to the three point line, they'll find more opportunities inside the arc as well, however, opponents have little need to honor any Bulls player beyond the arc, because no one on the team has shown they can beat you from out there and almost everyone is now passing up open threes as their confidence has been drained.

It's going to take a village

The Thunder have three players that can beat their perimeter defenders off the dribble and get into the paint, so Taj and Joakim will need to defend everyone on the court while the perimeter defenders will need to funnel players to an expected location to improve the ease of rotations.

No one stops Kevin Durant, so the Bulls will need to focus on taking the ball out of his hands and simply making his shots more difficult or taken from less efficient places and can hope Russell Westbrook has one of those self destructive nights where he can't hit the broad side of the barn but doesn't stop shooting and throws the ball away repeatedly to ice the cake.

Need more second chances

One of the Bulls expected strengths is in the rebounding department, but the Bulls haven't had a game where they've truly capitalized on the offensive glass and presently are performing slightly under the league average in terms of offensive rebound rate.

Chicago has the players to make an impact on the offensive glass and will need the easy points in order to compete in this game.

Final thoughts

This game doesn't look like a victory. It looks like a national TV drubbing. However, they don't play games on paper, they play them on the basketball court, and anything can happen on any given night.

Comments

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  • Keep the FAITH Doug...

  • On paper they are the sacrificial lambs. Hopefully they can keep it competitive.

    That JL3 domination of LeBron and Fadeway for the win was definitely one of my favorite highlights ever. Pure Awesome. LeBron had know idea what was happening to him some random little guy.

  • The Bulls have alot to learn from the OKC organization. First of all, OKC values young talent and you see them stacking the bench with good young prospects like perry jones, reggie jackson and jeremy lamb along with giving the young Hasheem Thabeet a chance and he is doing well. This mindset will allow OKC to contend now and for years to come. The Bulls on the other hand seem like a confused bunch, settling for aged veterans or being emotionally attached to former players that really don't fit in what this team needs. When OKC does get a vet, they get one that isn't too old like Kevin Martin who fits into what they need(bench scoring). The Bulls front office just doesn't seem they have a clear plan and I'm afraid they are following the Orlando Magic-Howard model of surrounding Rose with burned out-washed up-declining veterans and we all know how that ended? You can say well the Bulls FO wouldn't of traded Harden away, true, they probably would of let him walk in free agency instead. The Bulls are afraid to make the big trade or give young players a chance. They are indecisive and waffling around, something that OKC isn't. I'm hoping they compete tonight but with the athleticism and scoring of the Thunder, its looking like a blowout.

  • Doug got me thinking about best Bulls memories, and JLIII's fadeaway is definitely up there. Just going post dynasty, I'd also include Noah going coast-to-coast against the Celtics in that epic playoff series and Derrick's transition layup over Bron and Wade two years ago. What else belongs on the list?

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    Definitely Taj's putback dunk, along with his posterization of Wade. Deng pumping up the crowd during that rough 2011 Pacers Series is up there for me as well.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_Z9BhU4Zm4

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    The Noah coast to coast one was awesome.

    Ben Gordon's nut grab three pointer against Boston in the same series was awesome as well as Rose's block in the closing seconds of a game on Rondo.

    The Dragic dunk was probably more famous due to the call, but it still sticks out.

    The Rose buzzer beater against MIlwaukee sticks in my memory as well as the there pointer against Houston that he hit to send it to OT.

    CJ's 3 against Miami is also memorable.

    The Nocioni birthday game against Washington in 2004 where everyone was chanting was awesome.

    The 2006/7 home opener where Tyrus beasted the Heat right after they won the title and had the big dunk on Shaq.

    I'll also take the 2004 play where Chandler dove out of bounds to save a ball to hinrich who passed to Noc, who passed to Curry who hit a layup to give the Bulls a 2 point lead with 2 seconds left on the clock.

  • For me Game 1 of the Miami series 2 years ago, where we blew them out by 20, is one of my favorite memories. Rose was just nasty, and Taj's emphatic almost-windmill putback dunk was an exclamation point. Don't like the memories after that game, but oh man, that game was so sweet.

    (Aside: I always think of this Rose dunk: http://youtu.be/e04uyfgVgjY?t=55s as happening in that game 1, but I guess not. This is, in my opinion, the best dunk of Rose's career).

  • In reply to bfranke:

    Oh yeah. If I had to take one moment from Game 1 it would've been Taj's dunk on Wade, but what the hell. That whole game should be considered a great "moment."

  • I love games like this. These are games for men, not boys. In big games, bona fide big men play big.No time for actors or pretenders.
    We who have no bias or are not bigoted know what Joakim Noah is capable of in games that matter. Tyler Soze mentioned the epic 7-game struggle against the Boston Celtics, a matchup that many regard as the one that anointed Noah as a Chicago Bull.

    The Bulls don't have Rose, but they have a coach who can utilize what he has and still turn them into a cohesive and winning combination against the best teams in the NBA. They did it last season when they didn't have Rose and they can do it again in the current season..
    I expect big games from Noah, Rip Hamilton and Deng.
    The Bulls will take control of this game early and not make it a thriller.

  • I don't expect this to be a blowout in favor of OKC, nor do I think the bulls will have enough offensive firepower to come out on top in this game. Bulls need to play to their strengths if they want to win this game: solid defense and frontcourt players. Look for Taj and Noah to have big games on both ends of the floor tonight. Hopefully Boozer's jumper is falling tonight, we need all the points we can get.

    Also hoping to see Thibs use Butler a little more in this game. Use his athleticism to try to help disrupt Durant, Westbrook, and even Martin's offensive games. Too bad a rotation of Nate, Butler, Deng, Taj, Noah probably doesn't have enough offensive firepower - I'd love to see that rotation even for just a few minutes.

  • You guys are very amusing with the flashbacks down memory lane of Bulls players big moments, but I guess with a non efficient group of players that can't score what else is there to talk about when a team like OKC is coming to show the Bulls organization what a quality put together team looks like... Good luck in trying to win this game Bulls cause they will definitely need it.

  • Bulls playing surprisingly well so far. Hopefully they can keep it going.

  • Can't really fault how the Bulls played, if they put in that sort of effort they'll pick up some wins against good teams and manage to stay in the race for one of the lower playoff seeds. So long as they stay healthy anyway,I don't want to think what the team would look like if Noah or Deng went down.

    As much as I like how decisive the Thunder were once they realized they couldn't get Harden on a discount, Westbrook is doing nothing to disprove the theory they'd have been better off shopping him and keeping Harden at the max.

  • Cisco Grove, California. September 4, 1964.

    A man and his friends go hunting in the woods. The man is separated from the others. It's night. He decides to climb a tree to sleep in safety. He notices a light. Thinking it's a rescue helicopter, he climbs down the tree and lights flares. The light approaches. It's not a helicopter. Scared, he climbs back up the tree. Three beings approach the tree. They shake the tree. One of the beings, a robot-looking one, expells vapor from it's mouth, apparently to knock the man out. Works temporarily. Man begins throwing various objects he had at them. Shoots arrows at them. A second robot arrives. More mouth vapor, more temporary unconsciousness. Man wakes up, they're climbing the tree. More objects thrown, shakes tree to stop them. Later on, more beings. More vapor. Goes totally unconscious. Wakes up, they're gone.

    How disgraceful it is that such diligent efforts are wasted on a man in a tree, when certain teams are allowed to make the world a worse place to live in, running amok and doing whatever the hell they want to.

    A perfect opportunity to win, helped in no small part by one of the most godawful chucking performances I've ever seen in my life, by one Russell Westbrook (seriously, what the hell was that? It was like watching ''Tyrus Thomas, A Day in My Life'').

    It's one thing to have all these veterans, and not much youth. But then to have them lose in a good effort (well, by some), double suck.

    Anyway, thank you, woodland creatures (as well as this bizarre GFL thing), for setting wrongs right. And thanks for the refrigerator.

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