Coming off back-to-back losses against mediocre teams (NJ Nets and Philadelphia 76ers), the Chicago Bulls avenged themselves big-time against the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics 90-79.
Derrick Rose dominated his counterpart, Rajon Rondo, with 36 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. That should surely punch his ticket into the All-Star game as a starter. I understand the Celtics are a better team than the Bulls (but the Bulls can beat them on any given night), but Rose has performed better overall than Rondo and has played most of the season (1 game missed for Rose vs 11 games missed for Rondo).
Tonight, the Bulls will face yet another below-.500 team in the Detroit Pistons. It puzzles me that this Bulls team shows up to play against top-tier teams, but plays down to competition against the weaker teams. They get away with it when playing at home, but on the road, it leads to their downfall.
The Pistons, according to several reports including Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo!, are in talks with the Nets and Denver Nuggets in completing a 3-team deal. In the reported deal, the Pistons would give Richard Hamilton and receive Troy Murphy (expiring contract) and Johan Petro.
The Nuggets would receive Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, draft picks, and filler. While the Nets get their grand-prize in Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, and filler.
This is an excellent deal for the Nuggets and Pistons -- the Nuggets get a whole lot for a player who isn't returning, and the Pistons save a lot of money. The Nets have been hot on the Anthony market for a while now. They know he might not sign an extension with them, but he will give them a star to bring people in the stadium and hopefully a winner to New Jersey.
With or without a trade made by tonight, the Pistons should be a team the Bulls take care of fairly easily at home.
Dominate the glass
The Pistons are coming into the game 29th in the NBA in rebounds per game. The Bulls, on the other hand, are 2nd.
It's easy to see why the Pistons struggle: they only have one player who averages 6+ RPG, Ben Wallace (6.7). They don't have much size at all, something Carlos Boozer, Kurt Thomas, and even Rose, exposed last time these two teams matched up. The three combined for 31 rebounds, and the team as a whole had 55 rebounds, while the Pistons had 39.
KYP: Know Your Personnel
The Bulls have evolved into a good 3-point defending team, ranking 4th in the NBA in 3-point FG% defense (34.0%).
However, the Pistons have a few 3-point shooters: Charlie Villanueva, Ben Gordon, and Hamilton. Those three shoot 11 of the 16 three-pointers attempted by the Pistons per game.
The Bulls have got to know who the shooters are, in this case those three, and get out to defend the line on them. Play guys like Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey for the drive, there's no need guarding them straight-on at the 3-point line.
How about playing like you did against the Celtics?
The Bulls played very well against the Celtics, the way you expect them to play against even the lower-level teams. If they play the same way tonight, they should easily blow the Pistons out.
The Bulls held the league-leaders in FG% (50%) to just 37.8%. That's outstanding defense, and they should win by over 20 against the Pistons with that kind of defense.
As I said, it's puzzling to see the Bulls show up against good teams, but play down to competition against below-.500 teams. As long as they win, it's fine, but it can, and has, been a dangerous playing style.
The Pistons are coming off a win against the 76ers and they recently beat the Celtics, too. It wouldn't be smart to take them lightly; they certainly have the talent to run with the Bulls, and last time Tracy McGrady had himself a big-time 4th quarter.
At 16-3, the Bulls are on their way to having another great home record this season, reminicent of their 2006-07 home dominance (31-10). They'll likely better that record this season.