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.
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].