Team Records: Chicago (8-4) at Portland (8-3)
Game Info: 7:30 p.m., TV on CSNNW/ESPN, Radio on 620 AM
ESPN Announcers: Marc Kestecher and Mark Jackson.
Vegas Line: Portland -7
Refs: Bill Spooner, Bennie Adams, Karl Lane
The Skinny: The Blazers look to close out another successful homestand as they face the short-handed Bulls at home. Chicago comes in off a tough loss against the Kings Thursday night and is likely to be without star PG Derek Rose, who suffered a major knee injury almost exactly a year ago in his last visit to Portland. This is Portland’s last home game before a quick three game east coast road trip before Thanksgiving.
Last Season: The Blazers swept the Bulls last season and have beaten Chicago six straight times.
Projected Bulls Lineup:
PF: Pau Gasol (Spain, 14th season) – 18.6 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.9 APG
SF: Mike Dunleavy Jr. (Duke, 13th season) – 11.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.3 APG
C: Joakim Noah (Florida, 8th season) – 8.2 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 4.6 APG
SG: Jimmy Butler (Marquette, 4th season) – 21.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.9 APG
PG: Aaron Brooks (Oregon, 7th season) – 10.4 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 3.4 APG
Player to Watch: Joakim Noah (pictured at right) –Noah wasn’t immediately a NBA success but there is no question that he now is. A strong center who loves to crash the boards and play strong defense, Noah is a force in the middle for the Bulls. He is one of the nicest guys you will find around and willing to accept his role on the Bulls as interior enforcer. He is not the greatest on offense but he’s good enough. Noah is overall a strong all-around player who is good at many things and a key part of Chicago’s title hopes.
Did You Know? ating back to the 2003-04 campaign, Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau’s teams have ranked first or second in opponent field goal percentage nine out of 11 seasons, and in the top 10 each season
Song of the Day: “Sweet Home Chicago” the Blues Brothers version. I love this song and you should too. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – PG CJ McCollum (Finger), Probable-SF Nicolas Batum (Knee)
Chicago: Doubtful-PG Derek Rose (Hamstring), Questionable-PF Pau Gasol (Calf)
Chicago is a defense-first team and few in recent times have played it better and more consistently. The Bulls are among the tops in defensive efficiency year in and year out but that hardly tells the story of how well they play it. They make opponents completely change their gameplan and look to take away your best options, forcing you to rely on your secondary and usually inferior attacks. There is not a player on Chicago, who doesn’t give maximum effort on defense at all times. On offense, they are good so far this year for the most part. This will be key for them if they are to make a deep playoff push, since it has been their inconsistent offense that has so often doomed them in past seasons. Their biggest concern at this point is injuries, especially for Rose, who appears to be suffering one injury after another at this point.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They play their game. Playing Chicago is always about which team can control tempo. If the Blazers can make Chicago play the way Portland wants them to, they should win.
Chicago wins if: They make Portland attack inside. It is no secret that Portland’s best offensive weapon so far is the 3 point shot. If the Bulls can limit that and make Portland go inside, Chicago should prevail.