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Game 48 Preview: Bulls vs. Blazers

A Look at the Bulls

The biggest news surrounding the Bulls at this point in the season is that the post-Scott-Skiles era doesn't seem to be producing enough wins to make a difference in their season.  The Bulls are 19-28 overall, 9-11 in their last 20.  The good news is that they're still a dangerous group, with 6 different players leading the team in scoring in those last 20 games.  The bad news is that on most nights they're just not scoring enough.  They've failed to top 100 in 8 of their last 13 games.  Their 94.5 ppg average is an anemic 22nd in the league.  Their 42.1% shooting clip is dead last.  The best defensive team in the league--the Boston Celtics--allows opponents 41.9%.  The second best is Detroit at 43.8% allowed.  That means the Bulls, in essence, make every team they play the second-best defensive team in the league simply by their inability to put the ball in the bucket.  They are slightly better from beyond the arc but they don't shoot enough there to make a difference.

So how to the Bulls win?  First they try to make you shoot deep.  Then they try and outrebound you.  If they can't score off the break then they feed their hot hand (whoever that happens to be).  If they miss they'll bank on the offensive rebound. Their team defense combined with the athleticism of Deng, the scoring wizardry of Gordon, the deep shooting of their other wings, and the offensive rebounding of their big guys gives them a shot.  It's just not a consistently good shot.

What I'd Like to See

  1.  Here's another team that would probably love to make it ugly and try to outmuscle the Blazers on the boards.  We better have a concentrated effort on the glass on the defensive side.  They'll still get their share, but we can't let them run away with the rebounding battle.  There is never a break from their offensive rebounding either.  Their bench guys do it as well as their starters.  The White Unit big men better be ready.  Here's the game for all of you Przybilla fans.  Pray we don't get down big early.
  2.  The Bulls tend to do well when Kirk Hinrich does well.  The best way to blunt him is to keep him very occupied when he's on defense.  Whoever he guards needs to be able to move and drive.
  3.  This is a team that doesn't cover the perimeter that well, at least half because that's the shot they want you to take.  We can't succumb to that entirely but we do need to take advantage by hitting some long shots.  Driving against a bunch of massed-together defenders will be a Herculean task with Wallace and company in the paint.
  4.  Speaking of Wallace...he's a rebounding nightmare.  Keeping him from singlehandedly cleaning our clocks will be the first chore.  But when we do get the rebound our bigs need to outrun him down the court.  They're already faster than he is and he's been having knee problems to boot.
  5.  The Blazers should not be taking this game lightly after losing 2 out of 3 at home in the last 7 days.  To show we're not taking it lightly my vote is that we jump on the Bulls early and never let up.  Chicago is not a bad team, nor are they new to winning.  If you give them enough rope they will hang you.  If you light them up early, though, it forces them to gamble.  That would be good for us, especially if it involves them going smaller.  If they can't establish a hefty rebounding advantage and can't control the ball and the tempo they'll have a hard time beating us.
  6.  Joe Smith is a Blazer killer.  Use Josh McRoberts to take him out with a  chop block in the first quarter.
--Dave (