Hopefully, you've all managed to forget what happened the last time the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers faced off. But since it's important to the premise of this piece, we're going to remind you anyway.
The Bulls traveled to Los Angeles back in November and got their asses kicked, losing 101-80 in a game that probably wasn't even that close. The game was close for a quarter despite some terrible, terrible offense from the Bulls, but then the Clippers' bench took on the Bulls' bench and things got ugly fast.
So, from that perspective, there's some good news and bad news. The good news is that Marco Belinelli has looked so much better since his promotion to the starting lineup that he almost looks like a different player and the bench as a whole has somehow looked better even as the rotation has been shortened. Belinelli has scored in double-figures in each of the last three games after doing so just three times through the first 16 games. And against this team, the Bulls desperately need something to help space the floor a bit. They couldn't score inside for anything in LA, and couldn't make jumpers to compensate.
Oh, and the last time these two teams played, the Bulls were in the midst of a defensive slump, allowing 100 or more points to four consecutive opponents. More recently, the Bulls have throttled the New York Knicks, one of the best offensive teams in the league. So, you know. There's that.
On the other hand — this would be the bad news — the Clippers are pretty freaking good. They are, according to HoopData, the fourth best offensive team in the league and the seventh best defensive team. Their bench is just as good as it ever was, so one can't help but think we're in for a repeat of history here. But the Bulls are at home, so that's something.
Key Matchup: The Bulls' frontline v. DeAndre Jordan
If the Bulls want to have any chance in this game, they need to turn around the inside percentages from last game. Last time, the Bulls went just 18/44 from nine feet to the rim. That's bad. LA, meanwhile, went 26/37 from the same distance. That's good.
DeAndre Jordan simply wreaked havoc on the Bulls inside. He had 7 blocks and altered a ton of shots inside. Hard to say exactly what it would be, but the Bulls need to figure out a way to neutralize him to have a chance. Carlos Boozer actually did well last time, going 10/19 from the floor for 22 points and 12 rebounds, including 7/8 at the rim. But Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah need to step up from their combined 1/9 at the rim last time.
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