The last time the Bulls and Sixers met, Chicago pounded the Sixers by 45 points, and it really wasn't that close. The Bulls were merciless, and the Sixers did absolutely nothing to show any spine in the face of the reaming. The last time the Bulls played, period, they lost to the lowly Nets and their power forward spent the final 14 minutes on the bench, steaming. This game shouldn't lack for emotion from these two teams, both with something to prove.
Let's do this preview in bullets, simply because I have a bunch of random thoughts bouncing around inside my head:
- The Bulls torched the Sixers with a simple play early in their last game. Jrue was on Rose, Iguodala on Deng. Rose would dribble to the wing, Deng would set a screen, Jrue and Iguodala would switch and Chicago would immediately go to Deng with the size mismatch. It was very effective. The Sixers cannot switch on that play tonight, not with Nocioni on the wing guarding Deng. Nocioni needs to hedge, make sure Rose doesn't just turn the corner and go go the hoop, and buy enough time for Jrue to go under the screen and meet Rose on the other side. If Rose starts pulling up for threes with a hand in his face, so be it. If the Sixers are forced to switch, I doubt Chicago will even bother going to Deng, because Nocioni guarding Rose is probably one of the biggest mismatches you could create in an NBA game.
- Speaking of Nocioni, Deng is probably going to have his way off the dribble. Getting help from the bigs is going to be a key to this game, as well as proper rotation from the guys on the weak side.
- A couple things to avoid: Rose getting into the lane and getting to rim. Stopping his penetration is the top priority. Korver, Rose and Deng from three. They're all shooting well from distance, make a concerted effort to chase them off the line. Boozer and Rose's combined usage rate is over 58%. Not really something to focus on, but that's a big number for two players. Wade and LeBron are over 60%.
- A couple things you want to happen: Any shot by Kurt Thomas or Keith Bogans that isn't a point-blank dunk is a positive defensive possession for the Sixers. If Thomas is going to hit 10 long twos, so be it. You want him shooting that shot, when you consider the alternatives. Encourage Brewer, Bogans and CJ Watson to take as many jumpers as they'd like, especially threes.
- Finally, I'm not expecting the Sixers to win this game. Without Iguodala, the Bulls just have too many mismatches on the defensive end. What I am hoping to see tonight, though, is some spunk from this Sixers squad. They got their asses handed to them in Chicago, I'd like to see a message sent saying, "You won't be doing that in our house." Whether it comes in the form of Derrick Rose scraping himself off the floor every time he drives the lane, or a big dunk right in Carlos Boozer's face, or both, is immaterial to me. I just want to see the Sixers make some kind of statement that they don't roll over on their home floor.
Prediction: CHI 94, PHI 88
The tip is at 7pm, game thread will be up 90 minutes prior. Leave your thoughts and predictions in the comments below.