BULLS Game Thurs Preview: CLE @ CHI
Welcome to Chi City Sports, and I am very thankful to Zack Pearson for letting me write about my views on my favorite team- the Chicago Bulls. This is Post #1 and a preview to the Bulls-Cavs game at 7:00 PM CT on TNT. This game itself just might be a Playoff preview.
CHICAGO, IL—The Bulls are coming off what just might have been their worst loss of the season – against a Milwaukee Bucks team missing their rising young Center, Andrew Bogut, on Tuesday night. Now after this loss at home, they look to head into Cleveland and defeat the 1st-seeded Cavaliers. There has been speculation that Mike Brown may rest LeBron James to conserve him for the post-season, and also to avoid injury. However, James played in a win over the Raptors on Wednesday night. So it does appear Brown is avoiding the approach that Don Nelson took in 2007 – when he rested Dirk Nowitzki in the last few games of the season, which resulted in major shooting struggles against the 8th-seed G.S. Warriors (ultimately pulling the epic upset against Dallas). Another reason not to sit LeBron James is to help acclimate veteran Center Shaquille O’Neal, who should be returning to the regular roster any day now. It is vital to get O’Neal involved in Cleveland’s regular scheme; otherwise they risk having him out-of-sync for the start of the 2010 Playoffs.
As for the Chicago Bulls, a win against Cleveland on Thursday night will serve them well. It would put the Bulls at a record of 38-40 – which would tie them (record-wise) with Toronto. Unfortunately, despite whatever happens in the last match-up between the Bulls and Raptors on Sunday, the Raptors would own the tiebreaker in the case of an identical record between the two teams.
So this game is of vital importance to the Bulls’ playoff hopes. They need to make up a game in the loss column against Toronto (who are now sitting at 38-40), so a loss would put them 2 games behind where they would need to be. The Bulls are finally looking healthy after suffering through a tough period following the Thomas-Salmons trades. Luol Deng is shooting the ball fairly well and Noah looks to be almost as active as he was before, prior to their respective injuries.
Derrick Rose struggled last night with 6 turnovers, and that is the last thing Chicago needs against Cleveland, who is deadly once they start running and getting easy baskets outside of their regular slow-paced half-court set. The Bulls cannot count on the far-fetched chance that James will not play in this game. Instead, they need to reach deep and grind it out on defense and get in passing lanes and force turnovers – if they force the Cavs out of Mike Brown’s slow-paced comfort zone then that will open up the door for an upset. Joakim Noah also has to match the hustle for loose balls and on the boards ofAnderson Varejao (who only had 4 rebounds in 28 minutes in his return from injury on Wednesday night).
The last game on TNT was an embarassing home blow-out 74-103 loss to Miami. Though earlier this season, on Nov.