The Bulls have lost both ugly games against the Bobcats this season. Derrick Rose says they "want revenge."
Considering the Bulls' (36-16) youth, it's interesting to see what kind of games they bring in this week's two games against teams they haven't yet beaten this season. Against Bobcats (24-31) and Spurs (46-9) teams who for long stretches in their matchups spanked the Bulls around. Games with two teams against whom the Bulls are winless in three combined contests.
The first time the Bulls played the Bobcats this season, the Bulls were in a stretch of ugly losses on the road in close games. The game was in Charlotte, the Cats moved the ball well, ran the floor very effectively, attacked Kurt Thomas early and Carlos Boozer whenever they could. Bulls lost 96-91 after being down by as much as 17, building up a five-point lead, and blowing that to some heroics from Tyrus Thomas and Stephen Jackson.
The Bulls had their chance to redeem themselves within a week at the United Center and played like complete garbage, losing 83-82. It was by-far one of the ugliest basketball games in totality that I've seen all season between any two teams in the NBA. And bear in mind that I watch 15-25 games per week.
Normally when athletes say crap like this, my instinct says speaking in hyperbole, but Derrick Rose is a man of few words. He's been very articulate this season, conveying the message that he simply doesn't waste words. That he means what he says.
He "didn't mince words" talking about Tuesday's game at the UC on Monday, K.C. Johnson reported at the Chicago Tribune:
"We want revenge," he said, an edge to his tone.
Rose also succinctly summed up why the Bulls are 0-for-2 against Charlotte this season.
"They create matchup problems," Rose said. "But if we play aggressive
and with energy, that game should be very easy for us, especially
because we've been wanting to play them."
Another reason why the Bulls should win in simply that they're better. The Bulls have more talent, are better coached, and make this all makes their good decision-making look better.
A look at the numbers reflects that they've been a dead-ass team against the Bobcats. Shot attempts were down, steals and forced were way down, defensive rebounding rate way down to allow more second chances:
The Cats converted 25 of their 83 points off of the Bulls' 14 turnovers in the second game at the UC. This drew Tom Thibodeau's attention, K.C. added:
In order to right the wrongs the Bulls have committed against the Bobcats, taking care of the ball would be a good place to start.
"In the last game here, we turned the ball over and they converted in transition," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "They're highly skilled with guys who can go off the dribble. Plus, they were live-ball turnovers that put them in the open floor.
"For us, that is a problem. If we can get our defense set, we feel pretty good about our defense. But if it's open floor and they're getting three-on-ones, those are hard to stop."
The Cats defense hasn't been as efficient as it should be -- with arguably the strongest defensive wing tandem in the NBA of Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace. Their Defensive Rating is 106.3 (14th in the NBA, only 0.7 below the league average), opponents are shooting an eFG% of .471 (13th in the NBA, only .006 below the league average), and their forced Turnover Rate is only 12.9% (tied for 20th in the NBA). But their 75.6% Defensive Rebounding Rate is right just under the Bulls' fourth-best 75.8% rate, so shot selection will be crucial.
And that shot selection suffer when easy baskets aren't created in transition. The Bulls only forced 14 total turnovers in the two prior matchups against a Charlotte team tied for the second-worst Turnover Rate in the NBA (14.8%).
Seems easy enough -- take care of the ball and force sloppiness by the opponent -- and there's a reason for that. It goes back to my initial point on why the Bulls should win on Tuesday: they're so much better that the difference between a win and a loss isn't so nuanced.
I'm a fan of this Bobcats team. So much that I picked them to be a seven-seed when I looked at the Eastern Conference in the preseason. They could still get there, but a 24-31 record is still a 24-31 record by a team with the sixth-least efficient offense in the NBA (103.4 Offensive Rating). They shouldn't have a chance against the NBA's most-efficient defense (99.9 Defensive Rating) at the United Center where the Bulls are 23-4 this season.
Charlotte is 15-12 since Paul Silas replaced Larry Brown on the bench, but Rose is right. This game "should be very easy" for the Bulls.The Spurs at the UC on national TV will be another story on Thursday.
Stats via Basketball-Reference.