This Monday edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews upcoming 76ers opponents — features tonight’s foe, the Chicago Bulls, who are arguably the hottest team in the NBA.
This is going to be an interesting game to watch tonight as it is match up of teams going in completely opposite directions. On one hand, the Bulls are absolutely rolling right now and have their sights set on the #1 seed in the East. Meanwhile, Philadunkia’s home team has struggled of late – losing 2 in a row and 3 of their last four. To be honest the Sixers have played solidly from tip-off to final horn in only one game (W at ATL) since the big home win over Boston on March 11th.
If it wasn’t for the fact that the Knicks can’t do anything correctly right now, the Sixers would be clinging to the 8 seed instead of sitting comfortably as the 6th seed. Hopefully Collins can pull a rabbit out of his hat and help this team put together a complete game tonight, because the 7-6 will need it to down the Bull in Chi-town.
From an X&Os standpoint, we think the Sixers are in a lot of trouble tonight. First, the Bulls feature All-Star Derrick Rose, one of the best scoring point men in the League. We know that starting Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday is a defensive standout, but even Holiday will have a lot of trouble containing the MVP candidate. In the Sixers 105-99 win over Chicago back in January, Rose lit the Sixers up for 27 & 9 assists and he did it on 8 of 21 shooting from the field.
Chicago is no slouch on the interior as well. Loul Deng, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson can all score and hit the glass. They should have no problem dominating the Sixers bigs and putting up serious buckets. On top of a nice inisde-out game, the Bulls are also young and athletic (Just like the Sixers.) and can push the rock for easy fast break buckets. Finally, the Bulls also shoot the 3-ball decently (36.1% — 13th in the NBA) so that will make life hectic for the Sixers defense.
To top it all off, the Bulls have also turned it up a notch at the other end of the floor and become a very, very solid defensive club under Tom Thibodeau. They’re second in the NBA in opponent’s scoring average (91.1 ppg.) and first in opponent’s FG percentage (42.8%).
Honestly after their uninspiring performance against the Kings on Sunday afternoon, we’re hard pressed to find a way the Sixers can win this game. The Bulls are more talented, they are playing better right now and they’re rested. As we mentioned earlier, in addition to not being as talented as Chicago, the Sixers are struggling right now. Plus tonight’s game is the second half of a home, then road game back-to-back set for the Sixers, so they’ll be tired. Lastly, there is no chance that the Bulls are looking ahead to their match up with the T-Wolves on Wednesday, so Chicago will be totally focused on defeating the Sixers.
For a little more insight into the Bulls team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Matt McHale from bullsbythehorns.com to answer two questions on DA Bulls from us here at Philadunkia as well as provide us with two points of analysis on this Chicago squad from an insider’s perspective.
Philadunkia : The Bulls have won 4 straight, 12 of their last 13 and are 13-2 in their last 15 games. What has been one of two of the keys to the Bulls dominant play over this last month or so?
Matt McHale @ bullsbythehorns.com : The main key to Chicago’s success, both recent and throughout the season, has been the team’s defense. D has been the team’s mainstay, as much or possibly even more so than Derrick Rose’s nightly brilliance. Even on nights when the offense is sputtering or Rose is off, the Bulls find a way to put the clamps on their opponents, particularly during the second half. Teams need to score to win basketball games. Chicago prevents that better than anybody else right now.
Philadunkia : Where do you stand on the Derrick Rose for MVP movement that seems to be gaining a ton of momentum right now?
Matt McHale @ bullsbythehorns.com : If Rose wins the MVP, that would be great, but it’s not a big deal to me, and it’s not the team’s focus (although, by all indicates, Derrick would certainly like to get it). The team’s hierarchy of goals, from most important to least, is: getting better every day, the next game (regardless of the opponent), getting the first seed in the East, the playoffs…and somewhere waaaaay past those things is Rose’s MVP candidacy. And that’s pretty much the way it should be, right?
Personally, I think it’s gotten too much press. There are lots of people who think he’s earned it and plenty of people who think he doesn’t deserve it. Which makes it a pretty standard MVP race. On the plus side, it hasn’t been a distraction for the team.
Two Points of Analysis from Matt McHale @ bullsbythehorns.com :
1) According to 82games.com, Rose ranks seventh in clutch points (43.2), 10th in clutch assists (9.7) and, despite being a point guard, compares favorably in clutch rebounds (11.3) to Dirk Nowitzki (11.6), LeBron James (12.1) and Kevin Durant (12.9).
2) The Bulls are currently only one-eighth of a point out of the 10th spot in Offensive Efficiency (and a mere two-tenths out of the 11th spot). Based on their recent play — they’ve had Offensive Ratings of 110.4, 143.2, 135.4, 114.9 and 108.4 in their last five games (that last of which was achieved on the second night of back-to-backs on the road against the league’s fourth ranked defense based on Defensive Rating) – the Bulls could concievably finish in the top 10, thus rendering the whole “mediocre offense” more myth than reality