20 December 2010
Before the Bulls host the Philadelphia 76ers tomorrow night at the United Center, the front office has some thinking to do.
Already without Joakim Noah, the Bulls lost Taj Gibson to a concussion in Saturday night's loss to the Clippers. Gibson started for the injured Noah, but was only able to play nine minutes. The status of Gibson is unknown, but he could miss a few games. Without Gibson, the Bulls are down to three post players. If one of them get into foul trouble, the Bulls would be over matched on the glass. Do you think Thibodeau was on the phone with Rasheed Wallace sometime this weekend? It remains to be seen if the Bulls go after a big, but they may need to based on pure need.
Regardless, the show goes on for the Bulls. The Bulls lost in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday, as Derrick Rose missed a free-throw that would have sent the game into overtime.
To start a new winning streak, the Bulls will have to stop a streak of their own. The Sixers come in hot, winning eight of their last 11, including a win over the Magic on Saturday night. During this stretch, the Sixers have played top notch defense. Doug Collins has his team 10th in the league in defensive efficiency. It isn't as if the Sixers didn't have the personnel to play solid defense - but some players are really stepping up. Jrue Holiday has seen an increase in minutes because of his defense. Holiday's length provides match-up difficulties for opposing teams. The other perimeter stopper has been Andre Iguodala, who is one of the best athletes in the NBA. His stats don't necessarily show it, but he's been solid defensively, especially with contesting shots. The team is playing without a shot-blocking specialist after Sam Dalembert was dealt to the Kings for Andres Nocioni. Without Dalembert, Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand have been playing at a high level for them.
Brand has also bounced back offensively from a terrible first two seasons in Philly. In his first year, Brand tore his achilles, and didn't seem to come back with the same aggressiveness. Last year, he posted his worst averages of his career, scoring only 13.1 points per game, and grabbing only 6.1 rebounds per game. His PER was only 15.72. But Brand has started to bounce back in 2010, posting a 19.69 PER - highest on the team - due to an improved TS% (56%) and an improved rebound rate.
Probable Bulls Starters
Guard 1 Derrick Rose 6-3 | 190
Guard 6 Keith Bogans 6-5 | 215
Forward 9 Luol Deng 6-9 | 220
Forward 5 Carlos Boozer 6-9 | 266
Center 22 Taj Gibson 6-9 | 225
Probable Sixers Starters
Guard 11 Jrue Holiday 6-4 | 180
Guard 20 Jodie Meeks 6-4 | 208
Forward 9 Andre Iguodala 6-6 | 207
Forward 42 Elton Brand 6-9 | 254
Center 00 Spencer Hawes 7-1 | 245
Projections and Line
Chicago by 6.0, O/U: 191.0
ESPN says 100-93 Bulls win.
My projection: Bulls win 94-88 in a defensive struggle. We'll need Luol tonight.
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