Game On: Hornets @ Bulls

Published: February 28, 2012

The Hornets travel to Chicago to try and upend a tough Bulls unit. I give you the keys to victory.

The Bulls are a stronger team this season than they were last season. Though the points per game for all four of their points leaders last year (Rose, Deng, Boozer, Noah) have dropped, so have their minutes – and instead they are spreading the scoring around the team a little more – making it harder to defend them. This has caused the Bulls offensive efficiency to leap from 12th in the league to 3rd.

Pair that with a tough brand of defense and this team is going to be hard to control – particularly with a trio of big men – Boozer, Noah and Taj Gibson, who all are playing efficiently and had a 10-game stretch before the All-Star break where ALL of them averaged a PER over 20. With Okafor and Smith expected to return, the Hornets can match their quantity, at least, if not their quality.

The Bulls will be missing Rip Hamilton and Loul Deng is questionable. The Hornets will be missing Eric Gordon. Smith and Okafor should return tonight.

The Keys to Victory:

  1. Open the game with Ariza on Rose. Without wing scorers Deng and Hamilton, the bulls are reduced to players like Watson and Korver who are purely spot-up shooters, making Ariza not necessary to guard them. Last year, in the playoffs, the Heat showed the way to hamper Rose is to put a long, athletic player on him and then hedge with a mobile big on pick and rolls. Sounds like Ariza and Ayon to me.
  2. Start Ayon.  The Bulls have a lot of advantages in every game they play, but their biggest is their domination of the glass.  They lead the league in offensive rebound rate.  Smith does not help on the glass.  Ayon does.  Let him, Okafor and Kaman control the potential damage there.
  3. Do not foul.  The Bulls, despite Rose’s attacking nature, do not draw a lot of free-throws.   The Hornets need to make sure this trend continues because the Bulls don’t give away free throws either.   The Hornets will need to play them to at least a draw on free throw attempts to keep this one close.

Enjoy the game!


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