Team Records: Portland (31-36) at Chicago (36-30)
Game Info: 5 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Chicago -5.
Refs: Danny Crawford, Eric Dalen, David Jones
The Skinny: The Blazers travel to Chicago today to face an angry Bulls team that might well rightly feel as if a blown goal-tending call cost them a crucial win over Denver their last time out. Portland fans can certainly sympathize but will want their team to bounce back after yet another “dig a deep hole, kind of climb back out too late” game in Milwaukee.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers used a balanced attack to humble a Bulls team that was off its game a bit that night, handing the Blazers an 8-point win in a game that wasn’t really that close.
Projected Bulls Lineup:
PF: Carlos Boozer (Duke, 11th season) – 15.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 2 APG
SF: Luol Deng (Duke, 9th season) – 16.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.9 APG
C: Joakim Noah (Florida, 6th season) – 12 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 4.1 APG
SG: Marco Belinelli (Italy, 5th season) – 10 PPG, 2 RPG, 1.9 APG
PG: Nate Robinson (Washington, 7th season) – 12.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 4.3 APG
Player to Watch: Nate Robinson (pictured at right) – You may find this hard to believe but coming out of college Nate Robinson was a hot prospect. In fact, one of the reasons ex-Blazer Brandon Roy came back for his senior season was to show how good a player he was once out of Nate Robinson’s (admittedly tiny) shadow. While Robinson has found reasonable success these past few years bouncing around the league as a backup PG where needed, he is perhaps best known for his three slam dunk titles. Robinson can sting you with his shot when he’s on but when he’s off, he can be flat awful. The Blazers had better hope he’s off tonight.
Did You Know?: Head Coach Tom Thibodeau is the first coach in NBA history to lead his team to the most wins in the league in both of his first two seasons as a head coach.
Song of the Day: “One Shining Moment (2012 version)”. In honor of the start of college basketball’s magic tournament on Thursday we present its signature song. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), SF Victor Claver (Ankle), SF Sasha Pavlovic (Quad).
Chicago: Out- PG Derrick Rose (Knee), Questionable – PG Kirk Hinrich (Foot), SG Richard Hamilton (Back), PF Taj Gibson (Knee).
Re-Evaluating Chicago: When to Bring Back Rose
Rumors have abounded recently about when Rose is coming back this season and indeed if he is going to come back at all. In all honesty, while it would be nice to see one of the best point guards in the game back on the court as soon as possible (and I’d love to see him matchup with Lillard) Rose and the Bulls are right not to hurry. A rusty Rose in the playoffs this year won’t get them a title and can probably only risk reinjury. In the end, the Bulls should take the long view, bring Rose back only when he thinks and everyone else thinks, he’s ready, and not a moment too soon. As Blazer fans know, trying to come back too soon can mean you might hinder your ability to come back at all.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They score at least 100 points. The Bulls are not a great offensive team, and so if the Blazers can top the century mark, they should be able to prevail.
Chicago wins if: They play their game. The Bulls will win this game if they play as they are capable. They are the more talented team, even without MVP Rose, and can be counted on to win Thursday at home.