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Chicago Bulls (20-14) V. Phoenix Suns (12-26) Preview: It’s Always Sunny, Unless It’s Not

January 12th, 2013 at 4:54 PM
By Avi Saini

Fresh off of the win against the New York Knicks last night, the Chicago Bulls return to the United Center to host the woeful Phoenix Suns. Normal logic dictates that a team a playoff team that has recently had big road wins against some of the leagues best teams (New York and Miami) should be able to come into a game against one of the league’s worst and win. But the Bulls do not appreciate logic.

As we’ve seen in the loss to the Charlotte Bobcats and the win against the Washington Wizards, the Bulls have a huge tendency to play down to their opponents level. This isn’t anything new as we’ve seen it all throughout the Thibodeau era and perhaps a little before. While we all expect the Bulls to take down the Suns tonight, we know it’s not a given.

Another problem the Bulls may potentially face tonight, which we saw as recently as last night, is their inability to close out games. I’ve lost count of how many times it’s happened at this point but the Bulls have repeatedly blown safe, double digit leads in the fourth quarter of games all season. It even happened earlier this year against the Suns when the Bulls blew an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter, which forced the game into overtime.

Tonight should be an interesting game to say the least. One of the league’s worst offenses (Chicago) matches up against one of the league’s worst defenses (Phoenix). Given that Chicago has the third best defense, I expect the Bulls to pull this one out, but as we’ve seen with the Bulls, nothing is sure-fire.

Key Matchup: Joakim Noah versus Marcin Gortat

There aren’t many good matchups to choose from tonight, but of the ones there were this was the best to me. I consider Gortat a very good big man who is fairly underrated for his skill set. Gortat is a decent defender and rebounder who could make life difficult in both regards for Noah. On offense, Gortat is a strong finisher around the rim and can hit a jump shot with good consistency. In the restricted area, Gortat has converted 65% of his attempts while also converting a respectable 48% of his attempts outside of the paint. Noah is used to guarding players like Gortat (see Bosh, Chris) but tonight could be even more of a challenge as he may have to spend a good deal of time assisting Boozer to limit Luis Scola.

Tags: Chicago, Chicago Bulls, Joakim Noah, Marcin Gortat, NBA, New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns

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