Certain teams can try to funnel Derrick Rose to a shotblocker. It works sometimes, other times he just dunks on your shotblocker or puts crazy english on a ball and kisses it off the backboard at a crazy angle. The Sixers, obviously, don't have that option. Their best chance at slowing down Rose is to utilize the strength of their roster, perimeter defenders.
Early on, expect to see Jrue locking horns with Rose. Jrue has done a better job than anyone on the team (and possibly better than any point guard in the league) of stopping isolation penetration. His feet are unbelievably quick, he gives ground to cut off angles, cuts the distance down to stunt moves, he uses his long arms and feet to disrupt passes from the ballhandler out and he uses his size to muscle guys if they try to back him down. Jrue will be on his own, and he's probably going to be up to the challenge as much as anyone is, but he shouldn't have to do it alone the entire game.
At times, Iguodala will switch onto Rose, which is probably a bad matchup for AI9. He'll give Rose room and hope to lure him into shooting jumpers (which he'll then come out of nowhere to contend). Turner will get a shot, and he'll body up on Rose, making him use his physicality to get a drive going.
The Sixers have three guys who at least have a shot at slowing Rose down man-on-man, which is three more than most teams have, but what they've done in the past to Rose is mix up their looks, and I expect to see more of that tonight. When the Bulls use the pick-and-roll, expect to see hard doubles on Rose. When Thad Young is in the game, expect to see him bring a hard trap on Rose as soon as he crosses the half-court line. Expect a small to come double him if he goes to the sideline. Essentially, whenever there's an opportunity to force the ball out of Rose's hands in a situation where it won't immediately create a wide-open look, the Sixers will take it.
Rose is going to get his points. Unless he decides to start settling for a ton of jumpers, he'll probably score somewhere between 20 and 30 points. The key is to make him have to work for every one of those points, and use up a ton of possessions to put them on the board.
It looks like Rip Hamilton is going to miss tonight's game, which is a blessing and curse. Hamilton still has some big scoring games in him, but he would've drawn Iguodala and one of those nights would not have been tonight. In Rip's place, Korver will probably get the start and while it's important to keep a man on him at all times on the perimeter, it's kind of a waste of Iguodala's defensive skills. Brewer will be the other starter on the wing (barring an ill-advised early return by Luol Deng). Meeks should be able to handle him just fine, and if they decide to attack the Meeks/Brewer matchup, you've won already.
Up front, it looks like Nikola Vucevic will definitely make his return tonight, while Hawes' status remains unknown. It's good to get the Voose back, and he'll be tested tonight by Joakim Noah. Noah hasn't been very useful on the offensive end in terms of scoring, but he's a monster on the offensive glass and a very good passer. Boxing him out is going to be of paramount importance. Boozer vs. Brand is probably a matchup that should go to the Sixers. Both guys rely much more on jumpers, Boozer's typically come further away from the hoop. Boozer is a joke on the defensive end while Brand has moments where he looks brilliant, though not usually against guys like Boozer who rely on jumpers, ironically. If Brand gets off to a quick start, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bulls move Noah over to cover EB, in which case the Voose needs touches down low to punish Boozer.
The Bulls and Sixers both have very effective benches, and they really couldn't be more different. Omer Asik and Taj Gibson are both plus, plus defenders in the front court. Gibson will give you some offense, as well, though Asik is a zero on that end of the floor. The Sixers, obviously, have a more offense-focused bench unit. Tonight would be a good night for Lou and Thad to be in attack mode.
A couple things to keep an eye on. Brewer is great at creating turnovers. Watch him jumping passing lanes, and ball security in general when he's guarding the ball is of the utmost importance. We're probably going to see Lou vs. John Lucas at some point, which will be gunner vs. gunner. Lou needs to win that matchup when it happens. C.J. Watson has been really good this year, especially from three (45.9%). I'd rather not see Lou on Watson, that's a bad matchup for the Sixers.
The major chink in Rose's armor continues to be his three-point shooting. He's attempting 4.7/game, and shooting less than 30% from deep. Hopefully, those numbers continue tonight.
The tip is at 7pm. Game thread will land around 5.