The Denver Nuggets are 21-3 at home, second only to the Spurs. They’re also one of the hottest teams in the league right now having won seven straight and 13 of their last 15 games overall. That combination doesn’t play well against a Bulls roster missing Kirk Hinrich, possibly Marco Belinelli, and likely playing with a banged up Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah.
The funny thing about the Bulls is that in many games in which I’ve expected them to get schlacked, they come out win or play well enough to have a chance to win in the final few minutes. In that sense, despite how lopsided the game may appear on paper, I’m never counting this team out.
Can the Bulls win the battle in the paint, particularly on the glass?
Chicago’s one of the better rebounding teams in the NBA, but Boozer looked like he was playing on one wheel still last game, and Joakim Noah still may not go tonight and who knows how well he’ll play if he does. The Nuggets have an array of strong rebounders and could easily have a big advantage on the glass.
I’m definitely concerned that Faried will outwork Boozer on the glass most of the night by playing at an energy level Boozer will simply not match. For the Bulls to win, they’ll likely need to find a way to win the battle on the boards, especially if Belinelli can’t go which will considerably lessen the already slim odds of them outshooting the Nuggets.
When looking at where the Bulls can create an offensive mismatch there aren’t many possibilities. Maybe Boozer can bully Faried in the post a bit, maybe Nate Robinson just has one of those games, but the guy whom has the best shot at scoring at a high level is the guy being defended by Danilo Galinari.
Given that Andre Iguodala is a three in twos clothing, he’ll likely draw whomever the larger wing threat on the Chicago Bulls is and leave Galinari to defend the weaker threat. That means Iguodala probably matches up against Deng leaving the Bulls hoping to have Jimmy Butler or Rip Hamilton create some offense for them.
Either way, it doesn’t seem too hopeful.
Slow it down
The Nuggets want to get out and run, and they’re probably more accustomed to it in the thin Denver air. Don’t get sucked into that type of game. The Bulls have worse finishers and won’t be as productive in an uptempo game as a slowed down one. They obviously want to take their chances when they get fast break opportunities but don’t look to turn it into a track meet. Particularly with several guys playing hurt and a thin bench.
How do you like your miracles?
If the Bulls win this game it probably trumps wins against Miami and New York as the best win of the season given how well the Nuggets are playing, how banged up the Bulls are, and the fact that it’s on the road against an absolutely dominant home team. It’s going to take something special by someone to notch out a victory and while the Bulls have shocked me before, I’m keeping my expectations low.