Bulls at near full health for Raptors tonight

Bulls at near full health for Raptors tonight

Fresh off another a big western conference win, the Chicago Bulls will host the best team in the East, the Toronto Raptors. It appears they'll get to do so at near full health as Rose, Noah, and Gibson are all listed as probable with only McDermott scheduled to miss a game. Let's hope no one trips over a bag on the way to the UC.

What happens with the big man rotation?

The #1 question for Chicago Bulls fans will of course be what happens with the rotations. Nikola Mirotic has been a bad ass while getting big minutes per game. He's likely considered 4th in line of the bigs with everyone healthy though.

His shooting is a big boon for the Bulls though, and Tom Thibodeau needs to find a way to keep his minutes up. With 96 total minutes to split between four guys we come up to 24 minutes per player. That's really not enough for everyone which means one guy is going to get squeezed for sure.

If, as I suspect, Noah and Gibson aren't at full health, then keeping their minutes lower would be a good idea. Pau Gasol should always have his minutes down around 32 unless its an emergency, but no matter how you slice it, there's no easy way to get all four guys on the court.

My main hope isn't that Mirotic plays 20 minutes, I think without injury there is very little chance of that, but what I would like to see is him play the majority of his minutes with Noah whom I feel he complements the best on the court.

Can we please squeeze Hinrich instead of Brooks?

With Derrick Rose back one of the Bulls guards is going to get a big dip in playing time. Rose should step right back in to 30+ minutes a night. It'd be really great to see the Bulls take many of those minutes from Kirk Hinrich instead of Aaron Brooks.

Brooks has been a bad ass scorer for Chicago. Kirk has been, well, Kirk. While Brooks has chipped in efficient scoring for Chicago, Hinrich's shooting percentages have been abysmal. His defense, while marginally better than Brooks, hasn't been particularly special, and he's made some spectacularly stupid decisions this season.

Rose and Brooks have also looked really good next to each other in the few times we've seen it, so I'd like to see more of that look. It doesn't mean Hinrich should play five minutes and Brooks should play 28, but it shouldn't be Hinrich 28 and Brooks five either.

Look for some intensity

While I'm sure some of those good Western Conference teams take the Bulls seriously, there's no huge rivalry between the Bulls and Grizzlies, Blazers, Mavs, or Warriors. Both teams want to win and test themselves, but ultimately neither team is directly competing for their playoff position with the other.

The Raptors are a young team, on top of the east, whom most media still don't take too seriously as a threat to get out of the East. Most media still figures Chicago and Cleveland will rise to the top. The Bulls also beat the Raptors in Toronto earlier this season.

Toronto is fighting for more than just the win, they're fighting for league respect as well. I expect them to come out with a bigger chip on their shoulder than anyone the Bulls have faced this season which should make for an entertaining and hard fought game.

With that said, the Bulls better be prepared for the early onslaught. Derrick Rose better find real Derrick Rose and not passive Derrick Rose. If the Bulls have one of their oh so typical slow starts to the game I think they'll find themselves in a deep hole fast, and it won't be easy to get out of it.

The keys are simple

Run their three point shooters off the three point line, particularly Ross and Patterson whom aren't likely to beat you off the dribble anwyay, and to a lesser extent Lou Williams and Kyle Lowry. Without DeRozan, the dribble attack is going to come primarily from one direction, Kyle Lowry, so the Bulls need to control him.

If Chicago can do those two things and force the Raptors to win with something other than hot three point shooting from Ross/Patterson and Lowry's drives, then they should find themselves in good position to win the game.

Chicago's been lousy at home so far this season, so it'd be nice to score a big win against a quality team tonight.

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  • I agree that Noah and Taj are still not at full strength. It seems like Taj has been playing on that bum ankle all year and is going back and forth with health, never really getting back to 100%. I wouldn't mind him taking another 2 weeks with Mirotic playing so well, and then he can go back to the Taj of the past so people can stop freaking out.

    I think the FO needs to remind Thibs to keep those minutes spread out if possible like you said, but not sure if they do that type of micromanaging.....still a lotta time to figure things out

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    In reply to Keep:

    The trouble with the Bulls front court is other than Pau they have no low post scorers. Taj and Jo seem to have taken a step back from this role, and defenses pack it in the paint and dare the Bulls to shoot from the perimeter. This makes it difficult to rest Pau much because the Bulls lack any good 3 point shooters. AB is good but he doesn't play many mins when Rose decides to play. Dunleavy is hot & cold. When he's hot he's a great asset for the Bulls. And then there's Niko. If he can shoot like he did against Memphis more often, the Bulls could really be a special team.

  • In reply to Keep:

    Has his ankle been continuously injured since his rookie season, because that was by far the best rebounding #'s of his career, they have been drifting downhill steadily since his rookie year. Rebounding is primarily and effort and desire stat, so what does that say about Taj.

  • Without DeRozan, it could mean more license for the Raptor's three point shooters and more pick and roll which is a concern.

    Toronto has played a lot of (L)Eastern Conf. teams, and are about to go on a brutal west coast trip vs. Clips, Suns, Blazers, and Golden State. I expect them to lose several if not most of those games, and their sterling record to take a hit(until they fatten up again on the East). That said, while the Raptors have no true "stars" they do have several capable offensive players. Especially from three.

    As usual, it all hinges on Derrick Rose. Yes the Bulls beat Memphis without him, but the Grizzlies IMO just were not sharp in that game, and Mirotic's other worldly three point barrage along with Brooks' potent efficiency and timely baskets made the difference(along with obviously Butler who continues on his tear).

    Derrick is bricking 5.6 threes a game on a icy .286 percentage. Seriously, the dude needs to "chill" on the threes. Meanwhile the Geez Bros. in 34 year olds Klank and Leavyalone are sadly due for a good shooting game which will reaffirm in Thib's shortsighted mind that they should retain their substantial minutes. If so, that means defense and rebounding (Klank 1.8 boards a game in 28 minutes) will take a hit.

    The Bulls may be rated defensively as top ten, but at times their pick and roll defense has been highly suspect as in anti Thibslike. I'm concerned Lowry and mobile bigs like Amir Johnson and Valanciunas could slam the Bulls where it hurts for easy scores.

    Bottom line: Defending myriad three point shooters and Derrick having a good game as in 17-20 plus points on good efficiency will be the keys IMO. If Rose plays most or all of his minutes at the point I think it lessens the odds that he will be effective offensively. I highly doubt we will see much of Brooks and Rose, but I hope I'm wrong. If I had to bet on this game, as Vegas odds are even if i'm reading correctly, I'd give the edge to Toronto simply because I don't see Derrick going off in this game. Could Niko go off again with all the bigs in play? Doubtful.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Pick and Roll defense has been atrocious and nearly nonexistent, as if everyone studied tapes of boozer defending pick and roll during the offseason.

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    This is a must win for the Bulls. They have to establish home court dominance, and beat the top tier Eastern Conference teams and this challenge presents both.

    Go Bulls!

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    Michael, I don't think there are any must-wins for the Bulls until the playoffs. Must-get-healthy is another matter.

    If the Bulls get healthy for the playoffs and IF they get the starting caliber SG/SF, they will have an excellent shot at the title. They have a tremendous road record, so the home court 'advantage' will mean little. Plus the Bulls have historically been a strong road team in the playoffs.

    Get healthy and build chemistry!

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    In reply to rustyw:

    Well, maybe "Must win" is overstating it a little, but this is a statement win. The Raptors are not going to fade away unless there's significant injuries to that team and the Bulls must show them they can not only beat them away, but at home too.

    I agree the Bulls must be healthy for the playoffs, and Thibs is doing a good job spreading the mins with the exception of Butler. There's no way Butler should be leading the league in mins played while the Bulls have so many assets sitting on the bench. Either give Mr. Timid Tony Snell more mins or make a trade for a backup combo wing player. imo. I'm one in the minority opinion here, but I still think Snell can play. He's athletic enough, but he's not aggressive enough, and that comes with a lack of self confidence. All he needs is a breakout game or two and he'll be fine.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    I agree it will be a statement win if the Bulls win it solidly.

    Whatever counseling Snell was getting before summer league he needs more of it! It would be nice to see him develop, which is why the FO picked up his option for another year at $1+ million.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    you forgot one if, if Hangdog suffers a career/season ending injury they might have a shot.

  • Let's hope no one trips over a bag on the way to the UC. - Nice! It was like when GW Bush left office and the jokes kept coming... same with the Booz Cruise! Speaking of, it will be good to see his sorry ass on xmas! (How do the Lakers get on TV that day???)

    Thibs needs to get the Bulls up for this game. I can see Toronto being pumped, like Doug said, and the Bulls getting crushed. Obviously, if the Bulls come to play, they are the better team - especially with Rozen out. It's all about intensity.

  • In reply to Granby:

    probably has something to do with a guy named Kobe and a TV market of 20 plus million people.

  • You have to give the Raps credit for keeping up the pace since they lost DeRozan, I think that they currently on a 6 game winning streak all without him. You are right that the game likely means more to them than it does to the Bulls, the Bulls haven't really shown that much enthusiasm, regardless of the opponent this season.

    Hopefully Rose looks at Lowry as a challenge and he decides to play as if he were Russell Westbrook coming back from illness/injury.

    I absolutely agree that Mirotic is best paired with Noah, in fact if Noah is ever 100% that might be our best bigman pairing. Not sure what our second best pairing would be, Gasol/Gibson, Noah/Gibson, or Gasol/Noah, while Gasol/Mirotic or Gibson/Mirotic would have to be our worst.

    When all 4 are healthy, I've suggested simply platooning them with each pairing(Noah/Mirotic and Gasol/Gibson) getting 24 minutes. Maybe they would all finally realize that none of them, except maybe Mirotic are actually capable of playing full time starters minutes anymore, they are all simply too injury prone.

    As for Hangdog vs Brooks, the only thing that I have left to say, is that I wonder who was a worse signing, Hangdog's last two contracts with the Bulls or Jay Cutlers last one with the Bears.

  • "Can we please squeeze Hinrich instead of Brooks?" Looks like you got your wish Doug. Hinrich's out with a strained hamstring. This is good news because it gives Brooks more minutes, but also bad because it might mean more Snell.

  • In the post game presser it was like someone else inhabited Thibs' body, he was saying stuff like "I don't care if we give up 120 points" and "I felt Pau could use the rest". Even if he's not all in on being a smart progressive minute manager, it has to give some hope to those most bothered by Thibs' 'history' with minutes, to see him showing even a bit of budge. He looked almost stoned he was so happy, I think Thibs is 100% cognizant of the fact that this is far and away the most talented team he's ever coached, and that he is closer to a title today than he ever has been.

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