After Saturday's disappointing, but almost expected, loss to Minnesota, the Bulls are off to Philly to play the 0-6 76ers, which, if we've learned anything from these Bulls means this could very well be a dogfight.
Rumors are swirling of a line-up change, suggesting Joakim Noah takes over for Nikola Mirotic, who's struggled recently. Inserting Noah into the starting line-up would have him line up next to Pau Gasol which, to put it mildly, wasn't a huge success last year. However, the Bulls are currently giving up over 50 rebounds a game, so Noah's presence could help out on the glass, which will be a necessity against Nerlens Noel.
Let's look at the keys:
- Effort. I hate typing that word, because it should be a given. But with this team, it hasn't been over the past two years. For years the Bulls won by playing ugly and getting ahead through intensity, collectively crashing the glass, and outright hustle. These new Bulls are hoping the bottom of the net will suffice, and it's not the case.
- Nikola Mirotic bouncing back. Over his past three, the power forward has averaged 3.7 points a game in 19 minutes and shot a measly 16.7% from the floor, including 7.7% from behind the arc. Even if he doesn't start, there's no way this group can afford that lack of production with a player on the court for near a half a game.
- Jimmy Butler Takeover. With Robert Covington sidelined due a knee issue, Philly doesn't have anyone outside of Jerami Grant who can defend on the perimeter, and while Grant is solid, he's no Butler-stopper. There is no player on the 76ers roster who should have any chance at stopping Jimmy from doing basically whatever the hell he wants to do tonight, and this needs taken advantage of.
This game should be a no-nonsense win for the Bulls, and yet, somehow, their inconsistency issues prevents me from going all in on expecting a W.
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