Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving square off for the first time

It almost feels like one of them has to have a surprise injury to sit out tonight's game. I double checked the news three times just to make sure no one stubbed a toe this morning. However, Irving and Rose will match up for the first time in the ninth game the teams have played since Irving entered the league.

We want to see if Rose is really back? Here's a real test. Stay in front of Kyrie Irving.

The Cavaliers have a young nucleus of players to throw at Chicago, but so far, that young nucleus hasn't produced much in the way of results. Irving and Waiters are their top scorers but both are shooting under 40% from the field.

Anthony Bennett, the number one pick every one questioned as a huge reach, is presently 1/21 from the field to start off his young career, and Tristian Thompson who seemed like a reach a few years is still trying to make his mark. Their flier on Andrew Bynum hasn't paid off just yet, as he's played but poorly and sparingly and talked of retirement already.

The next most dangerous player on the team after Irving and Waiters might be hustle Forward/Center Anderson Varejao whom Noah will have to keep a close eye on to keep off the offensive glass.

All in all, the Cavs are one of the teams I thought might be exciting to watch, but they play like a homeless man's version of the Bulls. A star PG who's not quite as good, running around with teammates who aren't near as good, and which lacks the defense to back them up when they do run into cold spells.

Now that said, they're a homeless man's version of the Bulls team we expect to see on the floor. The current Bulls team is a homeless man's version of itself as well. The players who won 45 games without Derrick can't seem to do much of anything anymore. Derrick is playing the worst basketball of his career, and the shooting is so bad that Keith Bogans feels like an option again [okay, it's not that bad].

Maybe the Bulls woke up against the Jazz, but I don't think so. The game was simply too easy, the opponent too weak. The Cavs aren't great, but they have a star player who can attack and generate some pressure and a few other legitimate options on offense to score. They're young, hungry, and would like to make a mark on the season.

They think they're a playoff team, and they might be right.

The Bulls haven't played with much urgency yet. They've thrown the ball all over the court. They've been outhustled at the end of games consistently. Their "world class" defense has looked pathetic, particularly in the second half.

In short, Chicago looks like a team of good players that's lost its identity. They're playing with no soul right now. It's early in the season, and they have plenty of time to find it but had better start looking.

Derrick Rose vs Kyrie Irving

Rose is fortunate. He doesn't need to win this matchup for the Bulls to win. He just needs to keep it respectable. The rest of the Bulls lineup should outperform the rest of the Cavaliers lineup the vast majority of the time.

That said, Rose has had a hard time staying in front of Norris Cole and C.J. Watson. How will he stay in front of Kyrie Irving? This is the real test for Derrick's ACL. Rose frequently drives mostly in a straight line with tremendous explosion.

He'll take one change of direction move on the way to the hoop, cross someone over, but he's not making incredibly hard cuts back and forth to generate his looks. Kyrie Irving will force him to change direction constantly and quickly. We'll see how Derrick fights through screens and whether he can funnel Irving into the help defense.

On offense, Irving's got plenty of speed to stay in front of Derrick, but Rose should be able to power through him. Irving's decent hands, quickness, and instincts to force turnovers which could present a problem for Derrick who's struggled with turnovers on the season against fairly pedestrian defenders.

Derrick frequently seems extra motivated when going up against other star point guards. He's played exceptionally well when wanting to make a point. That said, he looks like he's trying far too hard this season so while in a different year the matchup might bring out his best, I'm more concerned that he'll continue to press.

Feed the Booz cruise

I'm not the leader of Carlos Boozer's fan club, but let's be honest, he's been the Bulls best offensive player this season by a mile. Chicago should look to keep Boozer active and going for as long as they can.

If the can continue his torrid pace of shooting, then the Bulls may even be able to move him [if they're interested in that option] at the trade deadline as part of a package deal.

Beyond that, he's actually helping the team stay in games right now and providing them their only consistent offense. Typically I feel the offense slows down and looks far worse going through Boozer because he has a tendency to stop the ball and look for his inconsistent turn around fade away jumper in the post.

However, he's had better shot selection so far this season, and the lack of any offensive skill by anyone else on the team makes his play stand out even more.

Boozer will match up against Tristian Thompson which is one I think he can win easily and consistently. Thompson doesn't have much size, has a significant weight/strength deficit, and doesn't tower over Boozer with height. He also lacks the experience to deal with the wide array of counter moves and craftiness that Boozer presents in isolation.

In short, I think this looks the type of game where Boozer's offense should be the focal point of the attack not just because of his play this season, but also because of the matchup.

If the Cavs switch Varejao onto Boozer then the Bulls may need to mix things up.

Bulls win?

It's hard to feel certain about much of anything with these Bulls, but I find it more likely they climb out of the hole and perform more like the team we thought they were [clearly flawed, but really good] then the team they have so far [critically flawed, and pretty bad].


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  • Bennett has one field goal? Why do I think he will have a breakout game against the Bulls? How many times have we seen the Bulls get a underperforming player on track?

    I have been pleasantly surprised by Boozers play. Physically he seems to be looking more and more in shape and even quick. For those who think Taj could easily replace Boozer I kind of laugh. They think it is easy for a player to just develop the offensive game. I realize Booz struggles against certain defenders, many whom he goes against in the playoff, but his array of moves and his often light out jumper are exceptional and not something another PF can just pickup in a summer of work like some seems to believe. I do think I've noticed Taj use a similar face up move as Booz lately. Anyone else notice this?
    Hadn't even thought about it Doug but you are right in thinking Boozs strong play could help his trade value in deals. I do think he needs to be moved in order for the Bulls to win a championship or he needs to accept a Much smaller contract as a come off the bench player which he really isn't at when looking across the leagues PFs. He is a lot like Deng. Good enough to start on many or even most NBA teams but not likely good enough to be a starter on a championship team.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Agree. If only the Bulls' FO had gotten David West instead of Boozer. Right now, Booz is doing well and amazingly never seems to get injured, which was a big fear initially. He doesn't match up well with Miami because they have 2 guys who can cover him ... Bosh with his length and LeBron with his quicks and equal strength. But the even bigger matchup nightmare is D West, who is just too strong for Booz ... and one of the few PFs in the league who is stronger than him.

    If the Bulls had gotten D West, the D with Noah would be ridiculous ... and he's still give you Boozer's offensive production but also better postseason play. What a shame!

  • In reply to Curious E:

    Eh, I don't see David West as all that great a defender either. He's probably a shade worse offensively.

    It's not to say that West wouldn't be better, but I don't think it'd make a significant difference.

    They're two guys that you could argue either way about year in or year out.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Uh, did you watch the Pacers-Heat series? West absolutely beat up LeBron in that series ... LeBron said as much afterwards. He has hit several big shots at the end of some of those contests -- shots that Booz never hits. Oh, he's got a 7'4' wingspan, which dwarfs Boozer's. And he's reportedly the strongest guy in the NBA and is an excellent leader. So, yeah, I'd take him in a heartbeat over Boozer and have a feeling so would most of the Bulls fan base.

    But the reality is that the FO didn't take a chance on him because of his repaired ACL -- and they cannot be entirely blamed as a result.

    And if you do compare, say, Bosh and West to Boozer ... it's not terribly lopsided. But one could argue that those two would make more game-winning plays in the playoffs -- and that's what matters most.

  • In reply to Curious E:

    The front office never had a chance to choose between the two players. We didn't have money in Wests FA year. It's not really a real choice, but only a theoretical one. I'd probably take West, but I think it makes a nominal difference.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    West is clearly the tougher, nastier player, frankly a trait which the Bulls could use a lot more of.

  • In reply to Curious E:

    Uh, the Heat don't waste Lebron's talent on the BozoHole, the just sig the smaller, shorter less brawny. but clearly brainier Battier on him and he completely disappears.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Unless he grows 4-6 inches and morphs into Kareem or Wilt, there is zero chance that anybody under this CBA is willing to take on The Hole and the salary cap/luxury tax hole that his $16.8 million dollar paycheck brings.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Joe Johnson and the Russian mobster would disagree with you...

    You're probably right about Boozer, but you never know- Pax did manage to trade away Larry Hughes and Ben Wallace, who were worse than Boozer production-wise, and just as overpaid, at the time we dealt them- and we actually got back 2 useful players in Salmons and Miller.

    Unfortunately, Boozer won't find a better fit than with the Bulls- a team that needs his offense and starts 3 All-NBA level defenders plus a good defender in Rose with him.

  • Is there any team doing a worse rebuilding around their star than Cleveland? Each pick they make is a brain buster, and it hasn't seem to work out for them.

  • interesting convo, I think David West is the better overall player, the only thing Boozer is superior to him is in rebounding. West has better defense and more consistent offense against elite teams.

    This year has been a disapointment with the much talked about and prized backcourt combination of Rose and Butler, both struggling to find themselves early on. I still think it can be one of the more dynamic guard combinations in the league. I'm hoping both of them get in sync tonight and have a breakout game. The Cavs have been pretty competitive in all of their games and defintely look like a potential 7-8 seed. The Bulls can't sleep walk tonight and have to be sharp on the offensive end.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Agree. D Rose has received tons of criticism and deservedly. But 'Jimmy Buckets' has reverted to Rookie Jimmy, playing great D but looking scared to shoot. Can somebody please remind him that he's a starting SG for the Bulls? That he hit huge shots in the playoffs last year and looked like a breakout star? And that if he misses a couple of shots, take another one ... and go strong to the hoop and get to the line??

    While I'm glad he overall doesn't resemble that knucklehead JR Smith, Butler needs to have more a shooter's mentality for this team ... and we desperately need his 3s.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Boozer is a rebound whore. If he played fundamentally sound defensively, his rebounding average would be cut in half, at least.

  • The only problem with the West vs Boozer argument that I see, is a logistical one. I believe that West became a free agent one season after Boozer did, so it wasn't exactly an option of choosing one over the other, and when West did become a free agent, I believe he was coming off a serious knee injury.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd drive all the way from San Diego to Chicago, just to deliver Boozer to Indy and pick West up, but it really isn't a fair critique of the Bulls FO to suggest that we should have signed West instead of Boozer. Now David Lee is an argument for another day.

  • I'd love to see us sign Lance Stephenson if the money was right

  • In reply to FreeJoakim:

    We won't have the option to do so.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    How much salary do you think he will command if he keeps playing at this pace?

  • Kyrie Irving may be off to a rocky start, but unlike Derrick, he has had success from three shooting 40% on 3.6 and 4.7 attempts per game in his first two seasons. That's pretty good shooting. Whereas Derrick's shot even from mid range has regressed let alone his paltry numbers from three.

    At the end of the day, efficient scorers i.e stars or just even good players as in wings/guards or non bigs can shoot the damn ball. I'd say right now Derrick might have more to worry about as a penetrating guard oddity then a prototype guard success in Irving who can flat out shoot the way most scoring guards can.

  • Rose with no turnovers and a better game than Irving, Dunleavy hit some shots, positive signs. Bulls still not playing great but it was a typical Thibs win where they ground it out and won ugly. Can't ask for much more at this stage.

  • Seeing how ugly this offense is WITH Derrick Rose makes me wonder if the Bulls will even crack 70 points per game if he misses the next few games from the Hamstring injury.

  • In reply to Motoman:

    The way Rose is playing right now, it won't make much of a difference.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    I'll take a struggling D.Rose any day over a Hinrich and Teague/James combo.

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