Game On: New Orleans Pelicans @ Chicago Bulls

Published: December 2, 2013

I would like to thank Nick Lewellen for compiling tonight’s preview. I had a lot on my plate and was unable to put something together. So, without further ado, here is his take on tonight’s Pelicans-Bulls game.

Last night most fans were understandably more concerned with the health of Anthony Davis than the outcome of the Knicks game. Well, we won the game, but we lost our best player for at least some time. No one really knows the feeling of losing your best player like Chicago Bulls fans.

Derrick Rose was only able to play in 10 games this year before getting hurt, and he struggled to return to his previous MVP form. It is hard to say how losing him will affect the Bulls, because the data is just too small. All in all, the Bulls have been pretty average this year. They are 7– 8 (6th best in the Eastern conference), but they have played well at home, posting a record of 5-0.

The Bulls are a pretty simple team. They play solid team defense.  They have one of the best defensive ratings in the league (96.9), but there isn’t much of a secret to their success. They are one of the best defenses at protecting the rim and guarding inside shots, allowing only 57.0% and 33.3% of shots in the restricted area and in the paint respectively. However, they have been a bit vulnerable at the 3-point line. They don’t allow a lot of shots, but teams do shoot fairly well against them (39.6%).

Bulls Shot Chart

On offense, they try to wear you down on the inside. They don’t really score a lot. All of their offensive ratings and efficiency stats are pretty low. They are slightly below average from 3, and they only take about 15 threes a game.  Luckily for the Pelicans, they attempt the second lowest amount of corner 3’s a game (3.3). Teams shoot the corner 3 at a rate of 47.6% against the Pelicans. Only the Bulls and the Cavs allow a higher rate, though the Bulls give up about 2 less a game.

The hard reality is I’d be pretty optimistic about this game if a healthy AD were there to anchor our defense. With him out, one has to worry about Deng and Boozer getting easy shots against the defense. Still not all hope is lost. I think there are 3 keys to the game for the Pelicans

1) Push the pace – The Bulls have one of the lowest pace ratings in the NBA. You have to make them get out and run to defend you.

2) Hit your 3 pointers – The Bulls don’t give up a lot of 3-point shots, but when they do teams hit at a pretty high rate. That means we need our shooters to capitalize off of every open look they get. Another great shooting night from Ryno certainly wouldn’t hurt.

3) Protect the Middle on Defense – This is the hardest key without Anthony in the lineup. The Bulls simply aren’t a good offensive team without a healthy Rose or someone like Nate Robinson or Marco Belinelli coming off the bench. Still, we have to really make them work for their shots.

Frankly, I have no clue how this one is going to turn out. The Bulls are kind of an odd team, and we have only seen the Pelicans play most of one game without Davis. This one is a bit of a puzzler, but it should be a good game.

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