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Chicago Bulls (4-3) at Phoenix Suns (4-4) Preview: Turning up the Heat, Kinda

November 14th, 2012 at 2:00 PM
By Caleb Nordgren

Coming off a tough loss at home to the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls embark on their first real road trip of the season, their annual Circus trip. Their only prior road game came in the second game of the season, when they trekked all the way to Cleveland and delivered a 29-point beatdown. So there's that.

Couple of pieces of good news for anybody still frustrated over Monday's loss: First, Kirk Hinrich is hoping to play tonight, and odds are that even if he can't go in Phoenix, he should be ready by Saturday, when the Bulls take on the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center.

Oh, and the Suns aren't nearly as good as the Celtics. That's the big one.

Three of Phoenix's four wins have come against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Bobcats. They did beat the Denver Nuggets as well, but they've looked bad in seven out of eight games so far. The Bulls, meanwhile, have looked at least solid in six out of seven games thus far. So…yeah.

These are not your…slightly older brother's Suns, either. Steve Nash is gone, and Goran Dragic is in his place — you may remember Mr. Dragic from this play in 2010. And while Dragic is a solid point guard, he's no Steve Nash. An elite offensive team year in and year out with Nash at the helm, the Suns are just 13th in Offensive Efficiency, according to Basketball-Reference. (For reference, the Bulls are 15th by the same metric.)

Theory: letting Michael Beasley lead your team in field goals attempted is bad for your offense.

Also, the Suns are terrible defensively. They're hemmorhaging points defensively despite Marcin Gortat doing his best Polish Dikembe Mutombo impression. Basketball-Reference has them 27th in the NBA.

Theory: When Michael Beasley is your best perimeter defender…well, Michael Beasley is your best perimeter defender. Oh, and you're going to give up many, many points.

Bottom line is the Bulls should be able to win this game, possibly in blowout fashion. If Joakim Noah and Luol Deng play like they did against Boston and like they have all year, the Suns will be in trouble. 

Key Matchup: Luol Deng v. Michael Beasley's ability to take terrible shots

As opposed to the Bulls' last three games, where Deng had to work to make life difficult on one of the opposition's best players, tonight should be relatively relaxing. If you let Beasley iso on the perimeter and have any ability to stay in front of him whatsoever, he will start firing up terrible shots. And he will miss almost all of them. Pretty simple for a defender of Deng's caliber.

Oh, and Beasley probably can't guard Luol on the other end at all. So that's good too.

Probable Starting FIves

Chicago Bulls: PG Kirk Hinrich*, SG Rip Hamilton, C Joakim Noah, PF Carlos Boozer, SF Luol Deng

Phoenix Suns: PG Goran Dragic, SG Shannon Brown, C Marcin Gortat, PF Luis Scola, SF Michael Beasley

*Hinrich is officially questionable. If he is unable to play, Nate Robinson will take his place.

Tags: Boston Celtics, Chicago, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Goran Dragic, Kirk Hinrich, Los Angeles Clippers, Luol Deng, Marcin Gortat, Michael Beasley, NBA, Phoenix Suns

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