Team Records: Portland (20-23) at Chicago (36-9)
Game Info: 5 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: Chicago -9
Refs: Monty McCutchen, Eric Lewis, Haywoode Workman.
The Skinny: Yesterday was a painful but necessary day for the Blazers as they began the rebuilding process in earnest by firing Nate and dumping Crash and Camby. They could hardly ask for a harder task to face them as they are shorthanded finding final approval of the trades in the next 24-48 hours. The Bulls are good and are playing well to boot. Victory is probably impossible but hopefully they play hard.
Last Season: The Blazers and Bulls split the season series, each winning at home.
Projected Bulls Lineup:
PF: Carlos Boozer (Duke, 10th season) – 15.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.7 APG
SF: Luol Deng (Duke, 8th season) – 15.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 3.3 APG
C: Joakim Noah (Florida, 5th season) – 10 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 2.5 APG
SG: Ronny Brewer (Arkansas, 6th season) – 7.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.2 APG
PG: CJ Watson (Tennessee, 5th season) – 9.9 PPG, 2 RPG, 3.9 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 needs 2 wins in Chicago’s next 15 games to break Phil Jackson’s record for the fastest Bulls coach to reach 100 wins, Jackson did it in 142 games, while Thibodeau has coached 127 so far for Chicago.
Song of the Day: “A Whole New World” from the movie Aladdin. The Blazers find themselves in a whole new world today, a new and better world if you ask me. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (Shoulder).
Chicago: Questionable – SG Richard Hamilton (shoulder), PG Derrick Rose (groin).
Chicago is a defense-first team and few in recent times have played it better and more consistently. The Bulls are second in defensive efficiency only to Philadelphia 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 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. 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 play really well and get really lucky. If Rose plays, the Blazers have no shot. If he doesn’t, they probably don’t anyways. The best to hope for is that they play head for newly minted head coach Kanales.
Chicago wins if: They play their game. The Bulls will win this game unless they play like crap and the Blazers play insanely well. If they play their usual game, they will win easily.