Team Records: Chicago (5-4) at Portland (4-5)
Game Info: 6 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Chicago -1.
Refs: Rodney Mott, Kevin Cutler, Pat Fraher.
The Skinny: Friday’s win was one of the best and most entertaining we’ve seen in a long time as Lillard, Batum, Aldridge and Leonard led the team to a very nice OT win over Houston. Next up is the Bulls, who have been up and down this season, mostly beating the bad teams and losing to the good ones. The Bulls come into this game fresh off a loss vs. the Clippers in LA last night.
Last Season: The Blazers won the only meeting between the two last season, on the road in Chicago in the first game of the post-Nate era.
Projected Bulls Lineup:
PF: Carlos Boozer (Duke, 11th season) – 13.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.9 APG
SF: Luol Deng (Duke, 9th season) – 19.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.8 APG
C: Joakim Noah (Florida, 6th season) – 16 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 3.5 APG
SG: Richard “Rip” Hamilton (Connecticut, 14th season) – 13 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.5 APG
PG: Kirk Hinrich (Kansas, 9th season) – 5.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3 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 broke the record last year for quickest to 100 coaching wins, reaching the mark in only his 130th game.
Song of the Day: “Sweet Home Chicago” the Blues Brothers version. I love this song and you should too. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (Achilles).
Chicago: Out- PG Derrick Rose (Knee), Questionable – PG Kirk Hinrich (Hip)
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 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 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 Sunday in Portland.