Team Records: Chicago (6-4) at Portland (10-2)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -3.5
Refs: Jason Phillips, Matt Boland, Derrick Collins
The Skinny: Fresh off a 4-0 road trip, Portland returns home as the schedule gets tougher. Portland may have won eight in a row but winning games like the one tonight against the Bulls will go a long way towards proving that their fast start is no fluke. Tonight’s game marks the first-ever matchup between Rose and Lillard and is sure to be a fun showdown.
Last Season: The Blazers swept the Bulls last season and have beaten Chicago four straight times and nine of the last eleven overall.
Projected Bulls Lineup:
PF: Carlos Boozer (Duke, 12th season) – 16.3 PPG, 9 RPG, 2.4 APG
SF: Luol Deng (Duke, 10th season) – 16.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.7 APG
C: Joakim Noah (Florida, 7th season) – 8.8 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 3.1 APG
SG: Mike Dunleavy Jr. (Duke, 12th season) – 7.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.2 APG
PG: Derek Rose (Memphis, 6th season) – 15 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 4.5 APG
Player to Watch: Joakim Noah (pictured at right) –It took him a year or two but Joakim Noah is finally showing the form that got the Bulls to spend a high draft pick on him. 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?: Head Coach Tom Thibodeau sports a 163-77 record as Chicago’s head coach, a winning percentage that ranks fifth overall among all NBA coaches who have coached at least 200 games.
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 (Foot)
Chicago: Out- SG Jimmy Butler (Toe)
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, except maybe Carlos Boozer, who doesn’t give maximum effort on defense at all times. On offense, they are good when they pass the ball to open shooters but can stagnate if their jumpers aren’t falling. This is especially a problem as Rose clearly has some rust to shake off, as he comes into this game shooting 34% from the field, a full 10% below his career average. Still, their strong defense gives them a chance to win every night against virtually any opponent, which is all anyone can ask for.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They score at least 100 points. The Bulls are not a consistently good offensive team, especially if Rose continues shooting significantly worse than he had prior to his injury, and so if the Blazers can top the century mark, they should be able to prevail.
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.