The Chicago Bulls travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons tonight. Tip off is at 7:30 PM EST.
In years past we've come to expect the Chicago Bulls to waltz onto the court, dominate the Detroit Pistons in every facet of the game, and waltz off to a nice dinner. Unfortunately, this season is far from the "norm" that we've all gotten used to. But you all know that already.
Based off of statistics from ESPN, the Bulls have a sizeable advantage. Despite doing marginally better in points per game (Chicago is ranked 23rd in the league, Detroit ranked 25th), the Bulls hold significant advantages in the other major categories. Chicago is ranked seventh in rebounding, sixth in assists, and first in points allowed per game. Compare this to Detroit's 17th, 20th, and 13th ranked rebounding, assists, and points allowed per game, respectively, and it already looks like a done deal.
Unfortunately for our eyes, the game is not played on paper. The major issue I expect Chicago to encounter tomorrow is a barrage of streaky play. We've all seen it this season: the Bulls play a standard NBA level, then play like champions, then drop all the way to the 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats level.
Because of this, it's fairly difficult to say what I think we'll see tomorrow outside of "We'll see basketball." I hope that we see strong play from ALL of the starters, not just a few as we're accustomed to seeing lately. I also hope that we see the Bulls win and win in a convincing, not ugly looking basketball way. But that all remains to be seen.
I personally am a believer that Noah's impact this season has been vastly understated. With Rose out, Noah has stepped up his game on both sides of the ball statistically and has also taken on the primary leadership role to go along side his emotional leadership role. This season, while he hasn't been incredibly consistent, he has been a solid force for the Bulls. A lot will fall on his shoulders once again and it'll be interesting to see if Noah, arguably Chicago's most important player thus far, can keep it up against Detroit's most important player and still developing big man, Greg Monroe. If Noah can shut down Monroe on defense and take advantage of Monroe's still suspect defense, I think Chicago should be more than fine. Anything else and the game could get dicey.
Probable Starting Fives