Game On: Bulls @ Hornets

Published: February 12, 2011

Matchup: Bulls(35-16) @ Hornets(33-22)

Off Efficiency: Bulls 103.3(18th), Hornets 103,4(17th)
Def Efficiency: Bulls 97.1(1st), Hornets 100.1(5th)

After a tight win on the road in Orlando last night, the Hornets get to return home and take on the up and coming 2000-2001 Philadelphia 76ers.  Err . . wait, I meant Chicago Bulls. 

Okay, maybe the parellels aren’t the exact same.  Rose isn’t quite Allen Iverson in his ball domination, and Carlos Boozer, when he plays, provides a bit more scoring than anyone on that 76ers team – but it’s still a decent analogy.   Why?  Because that 76ers team got by on tough, hard-nosed defense supplemented by a primary, not particularly efficient scorer.  That scorer was lionized and treated like NBA royalty, despite being the equivalent of what I like to call a “Scoring Role-Player”.

This Bulls team is the same.  The star is their defense, which allows them to have a great efficiency margin of +6.2 points per 100 posessions despite a middling offense.  The scoring role-player is Derrick Rose, and the lionization of him has been swift and over the top.

The key point is this game is going to be a defensive bloodbath, and whichever team manages to struggle their way to just a little bit of offense is going to win tonight.


Bulls: Noah remains out.
Hornets: Okafor remains out.

Positional Analysis

PG: Derrick Rose v Chris Paul
Advantage:  Even
Before most of you flip out, we need to address a few things.  I call Derrick Rose a scoring role-player, but that in no way makes him bad.  He’s got a lot of scoring skills and a good enough court vision to make him extra dangerous(and exciting) going towards the hoop.  He excels at putting in points, and he’s explosive.  What’s more, for this contrast, it matters how a player has been playing recently, and Chris Paul has been slower than usual over the past five games and has had trouble staying in front of quick players like Monta Ellis – and Rose – all year.  Yes, I fully expect Paul to run the Hornets better than Rose runs the Bulls, but you have to think about the eventual end-point of that.  Paul will generate regular, wide open shots for Willie Green, Trevor Ariza, David West, and Aaron Gray.  Rose will generate a shot for himself – or run a pick and pop with Carlos Boozer.  Given those sets of finishers, is Paul or Rose more likely to generate more points?  It’s hard to say.

SG: Keith Bogans v Willie Green
Advantage: Hornets
Wow.  It’s not often that Willie Green is more productive than his counterpart, but in this situation he is.  Bogans plays for his tough defense, and I fully expect Willie to not look like he did last night as a result.  Still, Bogans is so abysmal offensively he can only get 17 minutes a game and both Willie Green and Trevor Ariza are more efficient scorers.  Ouch.

SF: Loul Deng v Trevor Ariza
Advantage: Bulls
I’m a big fan of Deng.  His length makes him a great defender, and he’s got enough offensive talent that he will contribute efficiently enough every night.  He’s paid like a star, and he’s not one, but he’s still a good player.  In essence, he’s kinda what I wanted Ariza to be.  Alas, the Hornets forward’s offense consists of bad threes and worse shots at the basket in traffic.

PF: Carlos Boozer v David West
Advantage: Hornets
Usually I give Boozer the advantage over West, but Carlos hasn’t yet figured out his spots in Chicago and his classic efficient scoring hasn’t arrived yet.  As a result, both he and West are about equal as scorers, West tops Boozer as a defender, and that only leaves rebounding.  Looking at the season numbers, Boozer has him, but that’s only if you ignore what West has been doing since Okafor has gone down.  West has picked up the load and been pulling down 13 rebounds over the last five.  Attaboy, Fluffy.

C: Kurt Thomas v Aaron Gray
Advantage: Even
Again.  Wow.  Kurt Thomas has been an undersized center his entire career, getting by on savvy and tricks to make his way in the league and still be a solid contributer.  Though he’s playing better than he did last year, he’s still not what he once was, and though his mid-range shot is still there, his rebounding has crashed and burned.  On the other end, Gray finishes his shots at a high rate, and rebounds like a monster despite his defensive problems.  If he could stop turning the ball over at a bottom-20 worst rate, he’d be a good backup center.  I’m not really holding my breath about that though.

Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, Taj Gibson, CJ Watson, Omer Asik vs
DJ Mbenga, David Andersen, Jason Smith, Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli
Advantage: Bulls
Here’s where the Bulls gain a major advantage over the Hornets.  Other than CJ Watson, this bench is about as solid as they come.  Asik and Gibson are great defenders with moderate scoring ability, as is Ronnie Brewer, who would start for the team if he could shoot from deep.  Kyle Korver is the designated shooter, and has re-found the shooting stroke he misplaced in Utah.  Jack is typically bad against tight defenses, but the Hornets do have some hope that Andersen and Belinelli, who have looked solid off the bench, could mitigate this disadvantage some.  Oh, and maybe Marcus will play and have one of those explosive games he puts together twice monthly.

Again, not holding my breath.  About the explosive game – or the thought he might play.

Enjoy the game!


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