Game On: New Orleans Hornets @ Chicago Bulls

Published: November 3, 2012

The young Hornets have their first road test of the season, as they take on the Derrick Rose-less Bulls

Derrick Rose goes down and people forecast doom and gloom for the Chicago Bulls. This has happened three times now, and we still haven’t learned our lesson. Most people said that the Eastern Conference was a two-horse race with Boston and Miami the only teams picked by the “experts.” But you look up after two games and the Bulls are 2-0, looking as dominant as ever. Their defense is locked in, they are great on the boards, and their offense is extremely balanced and efficient. In this week’s podcast, I compared them to the Patriots team that lost Tom Brady and still went 11-5 because they played good defense and efficient offense. Even without Derrick Rose, this is still an elite team.

What To Watch For:

1. Battle on the Boards

Chicago’s frontline rebounds as well as any frontline in the league on both sides of the floor. Noah is nonstop energy, and Boozer uses his wide body to clear out the paint. Taj Gibson is an elite rebounder off the bench, and Deng uses his long arms to snatch defensive rebounds at an elite rate for a small forward. I wouldn’t expect the Hornets to grab many offensive rebounds, and that is fine, but they can’t afford to give a team like Chicago multiple chances on the offensive end.

2. Energy off the Bench

It is a cliche, but it is also true: bench players play better at home than they do on the road. The Hornets second unit, outside of Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith, has looked shaky so far this year. Meanwhile, the Bulls have an experienced bench led by a guy that would start for most teams in Taj Gibson. Gibson and Nate Robinson come off the bench and play 200 miles per hour. If they get going early, that crowd will carry them, and the game could get out of hand quickly.

3. A Steady Dose of Rip Hamilton

Though Austin Rivers is struggling offensively, he is downright awful defensively, and the Bulls are smart enough to take advantage of that. Look for a lot of opportunities for Rip Hamilton coming off screens and even in the low post early and often in this game. The scary part is that if Rip is torching the rookie, who does Monty turn to? Roger Mason? Xavier Henry? Yuck.

Other News and Notes:

– Anthony Davis was diagnosed with a mild concussion and did not make the flight to Chicago, which is a smart move by the Hornets. It’s sad that Anthony won’t get to play in his Chicago homecoming, but you don’t want to put a guy on a flight immediately after he suffered any kind of injury to the brain. Mild concussions can take anywhere from two hours to ten days to heal, and by heal I mean lose all signs of the symptoms that accompany it- dizziness, confusion, memory loss, etc.

When he plays has a lot to due with the severity of the concussion. With mild concussions, there is a level one and a level two. If it’s level one, I expect him to be back at practice by Monday. If it’s level two, he probably won’t play again until next weekend at the earliest, two weeks from now at the latest. The good news with concussions, is that research has shown that the younger you are, the quicker you recover. That is why Robert Griffin III played just one week after this hit that resulted in a mild concussion.

Vegas Line: Hornets come in as nine point underdogs and the over/under is set at 184.5. The Hornets play everyone tough, so taking the nine points seems like a lock, but we haven’t seen how they play on the road yet this year and they are missing two of their top three players, so I would stay away. I would bet heavy on the under, however, as both teams are coming off of a back-to-back and I don’t see many fast break points being scored tonight.

NBA 2K13: If you are going to play the Bulls with the Hornets, you gotta use a big frontline, otherwise you will get destroyed on the boards. Davis and Anderson are not the rebounders in the game that they are in real life, and Chicago just eats you alive on the glass when you play those two at the four and five. With Korver gone, a 2-3 zone works really well against this year’s Bulls, so use it a couple of times each quarter to give them a different look or when you put Anderson and Davis at the four and five. If you control a guard on the weakside, you can help crash the boards and that should negate the rebounding problem.

TV: The new TV deal with Fox Sports New Orleans has left some fans screaming at the channel guide when they should be screaming at the game. Check out the coverage notes here. Post any questions, verifications, or corrections in the comments.



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