Tonight the Pistons will be in Chicago to play against the Bulls at 8pm est. Both teams are on a single days rest, although the Bulls have played 4 fewer games overall than the Pistons. The Bulls are good, but how good are they really?
The Them: The Bulls came into the season expected to be one of the top teams in the east, and while they might be underperforming a wee bit, they have generally held up their end of the deal with a 15-8 record that is good for 2nd in the eastern conference right now. HOWEVA, the record is a little misleading. The Bulls have a very solid record, but they the advanced stats are not actually all that favorable for them. Their OffRtg of 98.0 is very mediocre, but to go along with a DefRtg. of 96.2 is obviously very good. But it comes out for a NetRtg. of 1.8, which is towards the middle of the pack, and not far ahead of the Pistons. But then again, that is still a pretty solid rating. Essentially what I am trying to say is that, yeah, the Bulls are a very solid team, but by no measure have they been stellar this year. Despite a pretty solid record so far. The Bulls have a lot of very good players on their team as well, and that is a big strength for them. (lol that may not make good sense, but I can't think of a better way to put it. They are almost like a better version of the Celtics because their players are better but unless Rose has a miracle happen they are lacking that super-duper star.) Jimmy Butler has pretty clearly settled into the role of best player at this point, scoring 20.8ppg at a fairly efficient clip, and also playing very good defense. Pau Gasol still remains as a hugely capable offensive player who can have the offense run through him, although he is not a good defender and (as has been stated many times other places) his rebounding numbers are largely empty, but that does not change the fact that he is a very good player. Derrick Rose takes a lot of shots, and misses a lot of shots. Although he has been shooting much better the past few games, on the season he has shot absolutely miserably. Nikola Mirotic's shooting has perked up lately as well and even though he is not always that good, he is generally a pretty good scorer. Doug McDermott has made himself into a decent player, and appears to have found his shot. Taj Gibson is (expected) to be the starter at PF tonight and is still a very capable defender and can still score inside. Tony Snell is a decent 3 and D type except that he is not that great a defender. (As Greater Morris showed last time these teams played.) Joakim Noah still does not look totally right, but has been better as of late as well. Aron Brooks can score in bunches. Kirk Hinrich is a white guy. E'Twaun Moore is a decent shooter. People have not really said this much, but now that I think about it, I actually like the "Better version of the Celtics" tag for them. Assuming Derrick Rose does not have a revival (which at this point is pretty much a fact) they do not have any super duper star, but have a whole lot of really good players. Jimmy Butler is legit, and who knows, maybe Derrick Rose is still good too. This is a good team, and they play the hell out of defense.
Matchups to watch:
- Andre vs. Bulls Frontcourt: The Bulls have 4 solid front court players and a lot of dudes who are tough as hell. The Bulls are also an excellent rebounding team overall. As such the thought would be that Andre might struggle a wee bit in this game, but there is one problem for the Bulls. Andre destroyed Pau Gasol on the glass in the last meeting on his way to a 20/20 game. Simply put, Andre might just be a lot better than any guy the Bulls can throw at him. But this team is very good at rebounding so it will be hard work for Andre.
- Reggie vs. Not Horrible Derrick Rose: Rose is (allegedly) not having as many issues with his vision and whatnot and has played a lot better the past few games after a truly horrible start to the season. If the assumption is that he is playing at a similar level, this should be a good matchup. Two very athletic and good PGs who are good attacking the rim. At this point I am not going to assume that Derrick Rose is actually good or not, but hopefully he is pretty good. Regardless, last time these two played Reggie was clearly better.
- Pistons vs. Guarding Jimmy Butler: Last time KCP took a lot of the burden and did a pretty solid job, but Butler in theory should be big enough to give KCP some issues. And also is the simple fact that he is really good. The Pistons are starting to give me faith that they can scheme pretty effectively for guys who are excellent scorers but it is still a worry. The Pistons will need to coax another not so efficient game from Butler, because he is the Bull's best scorer.
- Bulls vs. Guarding Greater Morris: Greater Morris ate the Bulls alive last time. Tony Snell pretty clearly showed that he could not guard him at all, and yet Snell is slotted to start tonight at SF. If Morris is torching Snell again expect the switch to Butler on Morris to come faster, and the Bulls to not allow a switch back to Snell very easily. Regardless, the way that the Bulls forward rotation works out is that Morris should have several possessions where he can attack mismatches, throw in the fact that the Bulls defense is geared to allow midrange shots, which is Morris' bread and butter. If he has a game like last time the Bulls might have to try and make drastic changes to counter him (which they did at the very end of the last game) which would open things up for Reggie and Andre.
- Bench vs. Bench: The Bulls have a decent bench, and the Pistons do not. The Pistons bench has managed to find some unlikely sources of efficient points the last few outings however (most notably Aron Baynes as well as Steve Blake hitting almost every 3 he takes.) and while it would be super nice if that kept up, it probably won't. On the plus side, if Blake can keep up his hot shooting, Baynes keep scoring well, or literally any other bench guy pulls some buckets out of his ass. They only need to manage it for a little bit longer, because the calvary is coming. (hopefully)
So in conclusion
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Andre is eating Gasol alive.
Tony Snell is having visible nightmares of guarding Morris.
Derrick Rose actually sucks.
Run for the hills if:
The Pistons cannot stop Jimmy Butler.
Derrick Rose is actually good.
The Bulls find a way to keep Andre off the boards.
The Pistons Bench lays an absolute dud.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre has a big game.
Greater Morris has a huge impact, even if it is just drawing Jimmy Butler away from the PnR.
Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose trade blows down the stretch in a close game.
Andre rebounds all the misses in the PG duel to give the Pistons the edge down the stretch to give the Pistons a close win.
The Bulls are good, it is a divisional game. And the central division is really stinking good. If the Pistons can get a win tonight it would be big. HOWEVA, this might not actually be that entertaining of a game. Both teams are very good on defense so there might be a lot of missed shots (there were last time.).
P.S. FINALS ARE DONE WOOOOOT. Today got thrown off by something but my posts should be back to normal times again.
P.P.S. Anyone in GR should come see the Drive tomorrow because Brandon Jennings will be there. And if you do, keep a look out for me. I'll have my "Form A Fucking Wall" shirt on :)
P.P.P.S. Someone made a comment that people should click on the link to my blog site. If I had any concern over the views on my blog I would say something about that lol. I have the site because it is easier to type these up there first, I think it is a little bit more readable, and so that I have a concrete place where all of it is archived basically. So if you actually prefer to read on the blog, then by all means do so. But the best thing you can do is leave a comment giving your thoughts on whatever my post is about. I might touch a bit more on this in the recap since this post is super late already though.