Bulls: Offensive efficiency 106.9 (20th); Defensive Efficiency 108.2 (17th)
As our TrueHoop Network brother By the Horns would tell you, the Bulls are a much, much better team in Chicago than on the road. Perhaps all the kiddies are more comfortable sleeping in their bedrooms, where their parents make sure the night lights are on and they know there are no monsters in the closet. Whatever the reason, the Bulls are 20-11 at home and 10-26 on the road. Wow. That is kind of embarrassing for an NBA team, actually.
The trend has only gotten worse since the Bulls acquired John Salmons and Brad Miller from the Kings for Andres Nocioni and Drew Gooden. The team is 5-7 since then–and, you guessed it, 5-0 at home, 0-7 on the road.
They also have a lot to play for tonight, since they are tied with the Bucks for the final playoff spot and the right to watch LeBron relax on the bench during the fourth quarter four games in a row. They’d also probably like to beat the C’s, who have pummeled Chicago six straight times over the last two seasons, including two blowouts this year in Boston.
This is my way of saying I’m not expecting an easy C’s win here tonight. In fact, I don’t expect an easy C’s win anywhere given the injury situation. And, frankly, the actual result of this game–and every game in which KG doesn’t play against some mediocre team–just doesn’t seem relevant anymore. Sure, I should probably be concerned about falling behind Orlando in the standings (the teams are tied in the loss column). But I’m not. I’m much more concerned about getting players healthy and figuring out how the rotation is going to work in the playoffs. Does the addition of Stephon Marbury mean KG can play some minutes without Allen or Pierce on the floor–something Doc never does? How will Doc divvy up minutes between Leon Powe, Glen Davis and Mikki Moore? Who plays with whom? These are the issues that concern me now.
Update: Some good new health news–the C’s will likely have both Eddie House (ankle) and Paul Pierce (sore throat) in the line-up tonight.
About the Bulls: They are a team whose offense lives in the worst place to live: the land of two-point jump shots. They shoot very few three-pointers (24th-most in the league, actually) and they are in the middle of the pack in terms of getting shots near the rim. For all of the changes this season–Derrick Rose, more minutes for Ty Thomas and Joakim Noah–this is a team that still loses most of the time if they don’t make jump shots.
That bodes well for Boston, which has handled the Bulls easily since the start of last season. Both games this year have been laughers, with the C’s holding Chicago to 29.8 percent shooting in a 96-80 win on Halloween and resting the starters during a 126-108 laugher in December. KG had one rebound in that game, and the biggest story was Rajon Rondo challenging Usain Bolt (who visited the C’s locker room) to a race. Some hilarious knee-slapping ensued.
It’s tough to read anything into those games. Rondo has contained Rose, and the C’s have limited Ben Gordon to fewer than 12 points in each game. But the games were so uncompetitive that those numbers mean very little.
Of course, the New Bulls are plus a John Salmons and a Brad Miller and minus a Luol Deng and a Thabo Sefolosha, and Ty Thomas and Joakim Noah (my litter sister’s favorite NBA player because of his absurd appearance) are seeing more minutes now than they were earlier this season.
Even with the young bigs seeing more time, the Bulls are 27th in defensive rebounding percentage. So the C’s should be able to grab some offensive rebounds and bully the Bulls in the paint. The last time these teams played Kendrick Perkins scored a career-high 25 points–a number he eclipsed against the Bucks on Sunday. Look for Perk and/or Leon Powe to do some damage inside.
And unless you count John Salmons, the Bulls don’t really have anybody who can guard Pierce now that Deng is out of the lineup and Thabo is gone. So let’s hope for a big game from the Truth–in fewer than 40 minutes, please. Ray Allen should be able to shoot over anyone not named Kirk Hinrich.