Thursday, November 8, 2007

11/8/07 Bulls vs. Pistons

I'll be leaving thoughts tonight here throughout the game. The Bulls are still looking for their first win and tonight they play the undefeated Detroit Pistons. Tonight's game is apart of a TNT doubleheader.

-In the pregame, Charles Barkley said that it is a "copout" to use distractions of the Kobe Bryant trade rumors as the reason for the Bulls' rough start. I couldn't agree more with Barkley on this.

-The Luol Deng-Tayshaun Prince matchup will be especially interesting. Both are long and versatile players who play tough defense. It will be important for Deng to start out the game strong and continue the momentum from his strong game Tuesday night against the Clippers.

-How come we haven't heard about Chris Webber's plans for this season? He is still a free agent and could be a great fit with the Pistons again this season. Webber brings the passing ability from the post that they do not have from any of their current big men. Amir Johnson, Jason Maxiell, Antonio McDyess, Nazr Mohammed, and Rasheed Wallace is a nice collection of post players, but they lack that extra veteran that Webber would bring. Mohammed is signed to a long-term contract, but he brings very little to the team. The Pistons thought that Mohammed would bring rebounding and shot blocking, but they have not gotten any consistency in either area. Beyond Detroit, you would think Phoenix, Cleveland, Boston, New Jersey, Orlando, and the Lakers were have interest in bringing Webber in.

-Although he's had some character issues in the past and picks up way too many technical fouls, Rasheed Wallace has an incredibly high basketball IQ. He knows exactly how to play basketball and is great at identifying mismatches for himself and others. Wallace simply has a great feel for the game.

-Tyrus Thomas often gets too excited after he makes a great play and does too much. This happens most frequently when he'll steal the ball on one end and then try to bring the ball down himself and turn the ball right back over. Thomas needs to get the ball to a guard and continue down court and try to get rewarded with a dunk or easy basket.

-On a positive note for Thomas, he has shown some moves on offense tonight that he hasn't shown before. On one play early, Thomas recognized a slower defender on him, dribbled hard to the left and finished at the basket. On another play, Thomas caught the ball in the post, crab-dribbled twice and turned and scored on a baby hook. This is the type of offensive development the Bulls need to see from Thomas to become a legitimate starting power in the NBA.

-It is alarming to see the differences between an NBA game called on Comcast versus on TNT. Listening to Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins you actually learn things and they identify things you hadn't seen before. With Johnny "Red" Kerr, Tom Dore, and Stacey King, there is very little analysis and a lot of easy criticism. Everything they talk about is "energy" and "hustle" and basketball, especially in the NBA, is much more complex than that. The TNT broadcast is simply a higher level of thinking and analyzing than the regular Bulls Comcast broadcast.

-The Bulls defensively continue to struggle in doubling in the post and fronting post players. They are not rotating well and get burned on it continually. Tonight, Rasheed Wallace is single handidly carrying the Pistons. In previous games this year, Vince Carter and Michael Redd took advantage of small defenders and set themsevles up in the post and the Bulls struggled to handle this situations effectively.

-Doug Collins said he believes the Bulls' struggles are simply due to "missing shots" and "not finishing games". I couldn't agree with him more. He feels like they could have won three of the four games they've played this season and seems to be optimistic on his thoughts around the Bulls. Outside of the 76ers game where they were outscored in the second half by ten points, they have been right there at the end of each game. In New Jersey, the Bulls couldn't convert on a game winning possession. In Milwaukee, the Bulls were down five points with the ball with just under two minutes left. Against the Clippers, the Bulls were up by four with four minutes left, but then did not make another field goal the rest of the game. Although they are winless, they have not played as bad as some have made them out to have played.

-The Bulls are up six points right now with eight minutes left in the game. For Chicago to hold on and get their first win, they need to defend Rasheed Wallace effectively and rotate well off him. On offense, they need their big three of Hinrich, Gordon, and Deng need to stay aggressive.

-Andres Nocioni's three point attempts during his four years with the Bulls, coming into tonight: 2004-05 - 1.20
2005-06 - 2.90
2006-07 - 3.94
2007-09 - 5.00.
I question why he has become less aggressive going to the basket and has been settling for three point shots. I can understand taking a three off one of the guards' penetration, but a lot of his three point shots have been forced.

-Tonight was Luol Deng's best night scoring from the post position or low block. He has great balance and a large wingspan and really takes advantage of that. One problem thus far has been when the opposition sends a double team he does not recognize it well. This should be corrected as he and the rest of the team becomes more experienced with Deng in that spot. Another reason the Bulls have not had as much success with Deng in the post position is because of difficulty throwing the entry pass. This seems like a fundamental issue to me, but the Bulls have had a handful of turnovers trying to get Deng the ball on the block.

-With four minutes left in the game and the Bulls up five, it's interesting to see that Scott Skiles is going with Joe Smith over Ben Wallace. Smith has been the Bulls' most consistent big man this season and he has a hot hand tonight. Hopefully, he will continue to knock down the midrange shot in the next several minutes and the Bulls will come away with the victory.

-The Bulls came away tonight with the victory because they got big stops when they needed it. It really felt like a playoff atmosphere tonight at the United Center, and I am sure everyone within the organization is relieved to get their first win. However, they can't enjoy it for long because they have to come back and play Toronto on Saturday night before going on the road for six consecutive games.

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